Debbie Rosen and her big chestnut gelding, The Alchemyst, have one of those stories that will long be remembered as inspirational. Debbie and “Al,” who is coming 15, have enjoyed a nine-year partnership that has spanned the country, including four trips to Rolex and countless Advanced and three-star competitions, as well as Debbie’s own battle with breast cancer.
So it’s with much thought and deliberation that Debbie has decided to move Al to Jennie Brannigan’s program to sell following their last hurrah together in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final Advanced division at the American Eventing Championships this weekend.
“It’s been bittersweet. I had a super good fall last fall and a great spring, so I decided to try Rolex again, and I think that he’s been around a couple of times, and I know he doesn’t want to play there anymore,” Debbie said. “I think at the three-star level and below, he can really excel still.
“Jennie is an old friend, and I saw her at a wedding recently. So we came up with this plan where I would come to the AECs and then send him to her after that,” Debbie said.
Debbie is hoping to find Al a new junior or amateur partner who is looking for upper-level experience and miles. Al is ready to be a teacher, she said, and moving on to a new home where he can do that will be a good next step. “I could keep him and we could live at the Advanced level, but he just gets a different light in his eye when he gets to teach someone now, so it’s the right thing to do,” Debbie said.
“Prelim is pretty easy for him. He packs around Prelim and Intermediate, so I imagine any (level) would be fine as long as you’re sensible about it. You just have to be mindful that the horse is used to going fast, but he goes in a snaffle, and he’s super manageable,” she said.
Jennie will be the acting agent for Debbie, who chose to send him to the East Coast in the interest of finding a good fit for perhaps a young rider who is looking for a 2015 mount. “(Jennie) has a gift for matching horses and riders, and it’s paramount that he goes to a good home,” Debbie said. “I trust her, and she knows him; she’s known him since before I got him, and he needs the right person.”
Debbie had entertained the idea of selling Al previously, giving the ride to James Atkinson in 2012 with wonderful results. “I thought that it was a good time to look into selling him, but I wanted to make sure that someone else could ride him first,” Debbie recalled. “James got along really well with him, and I would have loved to be an owner in that situation, but it just didn’t work out. If I were to give a horse to anyone, it would be James; I just wasn’t in the position to do it.”
After James, junior rider Jerica Coert took over the reins and rode Al around her first one-star and Intermediate. “She did great, but then came the acceptance letter to the university, and so that’s how I ended up riding him again.”
Debbie realizes that her goals are different than Al’s at this point. She’s got a few younger horses coming up the levels currently and hopes to find another four-star mount, as she’s got Rolex in her sights still. “I think it’s time for (Al) to be a teacher; we’re both very goal-oriented individuals, and I think he will do well showing someone else the ropes.”
This weekend, Debbie plans to have a good time for her and Al’s last event together. She’s walked Capt. Mark Phillip’s course once and is planning out her attack strategy for the challenging track that awaits the Advanced pairs on Friday. “I just have to make sure I’m in the right frame of mind to go out there and do it justice,” Debbie said. “I certainly imagined it would be hard, and I think it will take a very accurate type of ride.”
It will definitely be a weekend full of emotion for Debbie and all of Al’s fans who are here in Texas cheering the pair on. Their story is one that will not soon be forgotten even though they are going their separate ways come Sunday. We wish both Debbie and Al the best of luck in their next endeavors, and we’ll be cheering them on as they contest their last event together here in Texas.