Lordan is on fire. On Sunday, he and Nayel Nassar won the $129,500 CSIO4* Nations Week Finale Grand Prix at Thunderbird Show Park. Just a few weeks ago he brought home the blue in the $60,000 Blenheim Grand Prix of California, and earlier this year, he bested a tough field to win the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier at HITS Thermal.
That first win of the year was particularly poignant because the 12-year old bay Hanoverian gelding had just returned to the ring after a long recovery period from a stifle injury sustained in 2014. The pair had previously proven themselves as top competitors with big wins at Del Mar, Thermal, and WEF, and then gained the world’s attention by claiming the top prize in the 2013 Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties.
Nassar brought Lordan along himself after purchasing him as an “ultra-spooky, undersized 6-year old in Hungary.” Lordan had been previously sold and then returned because he refused to jump liverpools. “Nobody had any expectations for him, but I did,” Nassar said. “That’s what makes our bond so strong—we wouldn’t be where we are without each other.”
After Lordan’s injury, Nassar was unsure if he’d ever fully recover. But he’s back and better than ever. He never fails to put on a great show with his exuberant bucks, lighting fast ground speed, and fierce jumping style. But what’s he like away from the bright lights? We went behind the stall door at Lordan and Nassar’s home barn in Encinitas, Calif., to find out.
- While he’s ferocious in the ring, at home he’s a gentle, quiet guy. Unlike some of the other horses in the barn, “he doesn’t say much,” said longtime groom Linda Algeborg. “He’s like a student who just wants to please you. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
- In keeping with his gentle nature, Lordan loves to cuddle. “He’ll rest his head on your shoulder and practically fall asleep that way if you let him,” said Nassar. “His head just gets heavier and heavier until it actually becomes strenuous to support it on your shoulder.”
- One of his favorite things to do is to go on hand walks and inspect the many flowers planted on property, occasionally sampling the tastiest ones. Besides flowers, his favorite treats are carrots, apples, watermelon, and Paddock Cakes.
Lordan, with groom Linda Algeborg.
- He doesn’t get lunged because he doesn’t need it. He’s generally calm under saddle and even gets to go on trail rides around Encinitas. “He is a pleasure to ride because he wants to be a model student,” explained Algeborg, who sometimes gets to hack Lordan.
- The only time he gets demanding is when he travels via plane. “It’s like he knows he’s VIP and that I’m there to attend to him,” said Algeborg with a laugh. “He gets a little noisy, and a little greedy for treats and attention.”
Lordan on the lookout for treats while on the plane.
- Lordan is on the small side. How tall is he exactly? “I wish I could tell you,” said Nassar. “We put the measuring stick next to him once and he freaked out and wouldn’t stand next to it. But he’s definitely under 16 hands!”
- He has a mascot in his stall, a stuffed animal from IKEA. Lordan has chewed it so much it’s almost unrecognizable, but Algeborg explained that it’s a dog with a rabbit on its back. “The dog is Lordan and the rabbit represents Nayel, and Lordan can do anything with Nayel on his back.”
- He has learned that when he gets braided, things are about to get serious. Algeborg says he often falls asleep during braiding, but when its complete he takes care of business in his stall and then is ready to show.
Nassar added that “when he’s braided he’s remarkably more rideable, focused, and brave. He’s a different horse braided versus unbraided—it’s like he matures from young horse to old horse during the braiding process. It’s crazy!”
- While Lordan is always game in the show ring, he can be clever when it comes to getting out of work at home. Nassar explained: “Almost every time I pick up the reins to start him off, he roots a few times to get me to drop them. Or he pretends he needs to scratch his face so I let go of the contact. He’s smart like that. He thinks he can fool me, and he often does. I mean, what kind of rider would I be if I didn’t let my best horse scratch an itch?”
Lordan out for one of the hand-walks he loves.
- Lordan is one beloved horse. Algeborg’s affection for him is evident, and she gushed that he’s “the kindest horse” she’s ever known.
Nassar agreed that Lordan is “the sweetest horse there is” and his “best friend.”