waiting for the pre-game show to begin in the University of Texas Frank Erwin
Center, I found myself momentarily lost in a daydream. The cavernous amphitheater
was jam packed with rowdy football fans anxious to watch the first game of the
season for the Austin Wranglers, a new professional Arena Football team.
That day was to be the debut appearance of Hasan as the Wranglers’ team spirit symbol. Hasan is a special kind of equine athlete whose wide reputation gained him the opportunity to prove that he was as reliable in the strange indoor environment as he has always been at horse shows.
My reverie was shattered when the crowd started shrieking and stomping their feet. My eyes drifted upward, and there he was on the multiple screens of the Jumbotron! My heart skipped a beat and tears came to my eyes as I found myself in a crowd of thousands of wildly cheering fans. Hasan was shown galloping through the trees, with hooves thundering to the growing intensity of the dramatic drum roll. The music reached a frenzied pitch as Hasan approached closer and in slow motion he paused to rear high as his rider, in classic western style, drew a pistol and fired directly at the camera. Then out of a heavy veil of smoke drifting from a huge inflatable football helmet he appeared in person at the end of the playing field! The spotlights were on him and the pyrotechnics show exploded around him as he galloped around the field. He paused and reared high over the team logo at centerfield, and then continued on in a mesmerizing dance-like “Passage” to the far end zone, where he executed a hind leg walk and landed perfectly centered on a pedestal. He pivoted around, saluted the audience and then stood motionless as a double procession of rumbling Harley-Davidson motorcycles circled him and ferried in the cheerleaders. With more fireworks booming and the song “Born to be Wild” blaring, Hasan presented a stunning statuesque picture of equine perfection and poise. Of course Allen Pogue, who raised Hasan, has been his trainer and constant companion for the stallion’s entire 17 years was there to embolden and ride him through the performance.
Hasan is a stallion like no other, the kind of horse that most folks only dream about. He is the epitome of beauty, grace and a credit to his Arabian heritage. A horse that can take your breath away, just as he was doing to over 12,000 spectators that day.
There had been a rehearsal for the pre-game show, but there had been no pyrotechnics, no smoke and no shrieking audience. The motorcycles, the loud music, the entry through the giant inflatable Wranglers helmet all went perfectly. But at showtime that afternoon, it only partially inflated just seconds before Hasan was due to charge through to make his entrance. The show was being televised and so there was no time for repairs and the tunnel-like entrance was completely filled with an impenetrable wall of smoke. The director signaled for Allen and Hasan to start through! Now imagine what Hasan was faced with… music so loud it vibrated the concrete floor, 12,000 shrieking fans, a foreboding smoke-filled low tunnel opening onto a darkened field with wildly ballyhooing spotlights. As Allen nudged Hasan forward the horse dropped his head and entered the tunnel with the fabric draping around his neck, dragging him back as he moved. Yet Hasan emerged unshaken to begin his spotlighted routine. This was truly a test under fire and he performed admirably!
Hasan did not begin his advanced training until he had entered mid-life, yet he stands alone as one of the most uniquely talented horses in all of Texas, and possibly in the world. He is a wonderful ambassador of the Arabian breed, so fine in every way that while he has entertained many, his real life’s work has been to inspire respect for his inner beauty from those who have had the chance to meet him up close. Hasan has spent every day of his life in very close proximity with Allen, which has afforded this unparalleled level of trust and compliance. The two seem as one in spirit and in performance.
Hasan was acquired by Allen shortly after weaning and grew up in a rather conventional manner. Saddle schooling began at around three years of age and Allen and Hasan enjoyed years of camaraderie as they created and then rode a maze of trails along Onion Creek in south Austin. As Hasan matured, Allen noticed that the young stallion showed more than the usual Arabian intelligence and an inherent willingness to first attempt and then conquer difficult challenges. Hasan’s obvious intelligence motivated Allen to challenge himself to match the stallion’s ability to learn, thus began his quest to become a world-class horse trainer. Allen’s inquiring mind is never satisfied with the status quo, or what he calls “dull normal”. So to make life with horses more interesting he began to delve into the long held secrets of classical circus equitation by acquiring every book available on the subject and by seeking out those very few trainers available who had been down that path.
Hasan’s education did not stop or even slow down after he had learned the basics of the trick horse world. Allen was enthusiastic about Hasan’s vibrant, audacious personality and so the two embarked on the long quest to master the “Airs Above the Ground”. These technically difficult to teach and physically demanding maneuvers are usually only seen presented by Lipizzaner or Andalusian horses. Hasan is one of only a handful of Arabians ever to master these feats of equine athleticism. In addition to the airs and gaits of the normal Haute e’Cole, Hasan perfectly executes Piaffe and Levade while on a high pedestal and his huge Courbettes over a ground pole are remarkable. Allen has taught Hasan to execute the ancient battle move, the Lancade as a strike-off into the Spanish walk. Hasan effortlessly performs Terre a Terre, a Baroque gait that requires the horse to canter almost on the spot in two-time and to insert a tidy Levade in between each stride, something almost never seen in this country.
In the year 2000, Allen decided to present Hasan and his daughters to the public. This was done at the constant urging of one of Allen’s great friends, Miss P. J. Oliver, a trick rider in her younger years and a well-respected third generation racehorse trainer. The filly Alyah, whom P. J. had nicknamed “Smoochie”, and Hasana joined their sire in Allen’s troupe of Liberty Arabians. The act was soon named “Imagine A Horse” and began performing throughout the state of Texas.
The Liberty act features these three beauties performing high speed sorting routines, unusual tricks and High School gaits to lively rock and roll music. Although many national opportunities have presented themselves, Allen chose only those events less than a day’s travel from home so he would not have to subject his beloved horses to the rigors of life on the road.
Word of Allen’s wonderfully effective and totally unique training methods have traveled at the speed of the Internet and his work has received recognition in national magazines and in several European countries. He hosts a global horse training discussion group with almost 1,000 participants in places as far off as Tazmania and yet he is as approachable as the guy next door.
You may visit his world on line at www.imagineahorse.com where you will find pictures and stories of his horses, both young and old, doing things you probably would not have “imagined” horses could do. Illustrated versions of his Horse Gazette articles, training instructions, and unique horse training equipment, which he has designed are also featured on the web site.
Allen has begun a Lusitano-Arabian breeding program, one of the very few in America and has just completed our new barn, which will soon be filled with baby horses. The barn sports a lively red, white and green color scheme and if asked about it, he will offer his handsome grin and tell you that, “ Every day is like Christmas when you wake up with trick horses in your barn.”
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