Monday, December 22, 2008

Fat Albert

I guess I never gave the low down on Albert, my friend Susan's horse. Susan is the niece of Marge, the barn owner, and when Susan bought Albert Marge asked if I would have some time to help Susan out with him.

Albert is a purebred Arabian gelding. I think he's 15 years old. Susan bought him as a five year old, and he was very broke. He had been used as a kids lesson horse but had never been shown. His registered name is Tariq el Kaiyoum, but he was so fat that they called him Fat Albert. When Susan bought him it got changed to just Albert, because he got put on a diet and went to work.

At first I didn't help her much because he was basically broke and she could cruise around on him without any problems. After a few months I asked her what her plans were for him,and she just kinda shrugged and said "Hadn't really thought about it." I had been doing dressage for a little over a year, and told her I could help her with some dressage basics. She said sure.

We started working on your basic training level stuff, and I was giving her lessons as well as riding Albert. He has really super gaits and has a lot of gas in his motor. He's not very big - maybe 15 hands - but he can feel a lot bigger when he gets on his muscle.

We got Susan to some schooling shows, and she had me take him into some classes as well. He did really well, and qualified for Regionals at USDF shows one year. The plan was that I would show him for Susan, but then I had this little accident at a show, and I didn't think that I'd recover in enough time to show both Kaswyn and Albert at Regionals. So I asked my trainer to show him. She did a fantastic job, and he went Regional Champion! So awesome.

After my trainer won that class for her, Susan started having my trainer work with Albert. Over the years she went on to win a Reserve National Championship and a National Top Ten with Albert. And then in 2005, Albert went out of dressage training.

Susan kept Albert busy by getting him certified as a police horse, and he is part of a volunteer posse that patrols the local parks. But he wasn't in any kind of dressage training. So when I came back to Marge's barn, Albert was fat, hairy, and totally out of shape.

I've been working with him four days a week for months now and he is finally in decent shape. He has a ton of hair right now, and if I'm going to show him I'm going to have to clip him. It's been hard riding two horses after work every night, and getting done in time to pick up my kids from school. However, I do it for two reasons. One, Albert is so talented that it would be such a waste not to do something with him. Two, he gives me such a different ride than Kaswyn that riding him makes me a better rider. And I'm all about progress and improvement, even if it means that I leave the barn dirty and exhausted, but with worked horses and clean tack. The other day Marge called me "the hyperactive one in the barn." I prefer to think of myself as motivated and driven.

Over the past few years Susan has developed severe back pain while riding, so she won't be riding him much while I recover from surgery. For some reason this horse hates to be lunged, but I'm going to beg Susan to either get on him or lunge him four days a week. I really don't want him to lose the muscle and stamina I have tried so hard to develop. Susan, in contrast to me, is not very motivated, and although she would love it if I would show her horse, she would be okay if I didn't. However I really want to get both he and Kaswyn back in the show ring this year.

My trainer made an interesting comment after the lessons with Kaswyn and Albert. She said that watching me ride both horses back to back she could see that I ride them differently. With Kaswyn I was more strict and didn't let him slide on much, but with Albert I was willing to take a little less than perfection. I thought about that, and then said that it's because with Kaswyn I am always searching for that feeling that I know my horse can give me. With Albert, it's more of a learning curve, so I take what he gives me a build on that.

I hope to get some video of Albert up here soon. Unfortunately the area lights are sort of dim and my camera makes the video too dark to see anything. He's really really cute and I get a real charge out of riding him. He's got a little attitude, which I love, because it's not a "f**k you" attitude, more of a "Hey lady, stop telling me to do that casue I don't want to!". But in the end we always come to an understanding, which ends up with him doing what I ask. Eventually.


McFawn said...

Thanks! Now I have photos and videos to look forward to!

Rising Rainbow said...

It makes sense to me you would ride them differently. Albert sounds like a character. That's one of the things I love about Arabians.

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr