Behind The Stall Door With: Lucifer V
Since acquiring the ride on Lucifer V in 2018, Egypt’s Nayel Nassar and Evergate Stables LLC’s 14-year-old Westphalian gelding (Lord Pezi—Grandina, Grandeur) have been consistently successful, acquiring a number of impressive accolades including winning the 2019 Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Ocala (Florida), taking several CSI5* grand prix victories in 2019, and they were key players in the Egyptian show jumping team’s qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (which have now been moved to 2021).
Formerly campaigned to the five-star level by Hardin Towell, the gelding has been known to have a rather “devilish” character, but over the course of their time together, Nassar’s formed a bond with the opinionated bay and gained his respect under saddle.
• “He’s definitely the most eccentric horse I’ve ever had,” said Nassar with a laugh. “He’s very smart; almost too smart for his own good, and he knows exactly what he can and cannot get away with.”
• Surprisingly, Nassar noted that Lucifer is usually extremely lazy. “He’s very dull at home, until you start jumping. I think he’s just a horse of habit,” he said.
• He’s a show horse, and he knows it. “He knows when he’s at a show, and he knows when he’s done well,” said Nassar. “He also knows when we haven’t performed so well. When we’re at an indoor show, and he can hear the ring and can hear the music, he won’t touch his mash until the music stops. I really believe that’s because he knows he should be out there.”
• “He’s a really cool boy,” said Nassar. “He’s lovely to ride once you get him going; it’s just tricky sometimes to get him motivated. I think the more energetic the event is and the more buzz a venue has, the more he enjoys it. That atmosphere really gets him going.”
• He can be very attached to other horses. “If a horse leaves the barn or if his travel buddy leaves, he doesn’t mind; it’s more about being around a lot of horses in the warm-up ring. That gets him going and amped up,” explained Nassar. “Sometimes if I’m struggling to get him going, I’ll follow another horse, and if he has a leader then he’s happy to get to work.”
• Nassar has a lengthy list of favorite moments with the gelding, including the HITS Million. “I’m lucky to have had so many good moments with him,” said Nassar. “A lot of really great highs that I’m very proud of him for. He has developed a level of consistency that I wasn’t sure was going to be there for him when we started. He’s become a great horse, one that I can rely on during those big events.”
• The horse is slow to warm up to his riders, including Nassar. “It took a while for us to click,” he said. “I was really always comfortable with him in the ring; it was more figuring out what works to make him peak and what buttons needed to be pressed. As always with a new horse, you figure out how much it takes and learning the nuances that come with a new horse. I think he’s also one to test his rider, particularly when he gets a new one. One of our first rides together, he dumped me really quickly. You have to negotiate with him, and as our partnership developed, he has become a lot more lenient with me, too.”
• Lucifer takes his outdoor time seriously. “He loves to be outside,” said Nassar. “We put him out in the paddock every morning, and he stays out for hours. He really just seems like a happy pony when he’s out there.”
• His emoji? The purple devil of course!
• If Lucifer was a person, Nassar confirmed that he’d be someone very opinionated, who has to warm up to you before he tells you very much.
• Lucifer has favorites. “My groom, Pauline Holmer, does such a good job with him,” said Nassar. “She’s primarily taken care of him for the last few years, and she really loves him. He’s her favorite, and she’s his. She just really coddled him with love, and I think that has made a huge difference.”