Harry Alban and MNK Made to Play
Photos by Howard Schatzberg
At 25-years-old, MNK Made to Play, or Playboy, as he's been known since he was two-days-old, has a lot of life and living yet to come. He greets Harry and his wife, Lyn, each morning with a nicker- either of greeting or annoyance if he believes his breakfast is late.
Although sired by Park Saddle Champion, Chantwood Charterson, Playboy's young owner decided that he WOULD BE a Western Pleasure horse, and so he became one, garnishing many wins and championships under AOTS (Amateur Owned Trained and Shown) rider, Denielle Peters. When Harry and Playboy teamed up in 2001, Denielle encouraged Harry to continue Playboy's show career at A-Rated Morgan shows, and the Illinois State Fair, and so they successfully did.
Playboy did triple duty as Harry's trail horse, and a lesson horse for several young riders. In 2012, it was decided to retire Playboy from the show ring and he became a full-time trail horse par excel-lance. Playboy and Harry have ridden hundreds of miles over difficult trails in the Shawnee National Forest in southern IL, the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, the Mark Twin National Waterways in Missouri, and many others - riding all day, every day for a week at a time. And yes, Lyn and her Morgan, Edgewood Harley D Rider, are right there beside them!
Playboy was retired from these trail trips in 2011, but he wasn't ready for pasture just yet. Harry and Playboy wanted a little bit more of a challenge, so they started taking lessons in Western Dressage and have shown every year here at Jubilee since Western Dressage became a recognized USEF discipline, and although with each passing year, there's a little more silver in Playboy's tail, and a little less hair on Harry's head, they will continue to do so as long as both are able and willing.
Harry, a retired engineer, loves technical details and finesse, and while the trail rides were soothing and a lot of fun with friends, he and Playboy welcomed this new challenge. Who'd have thought riding a simple circle could be so darn hard? But, then again- for an engineer, the geometry and precision are thrilling. At 76-years-old Harry is still going strong but often thinks there isn't enough Ibuprofen in the world to deal with the process of aging.
On August 31st, Harry and Playboy rode Western Dressage Basic 2 test before judge Marie Johnson at the Jubilee Regional Championship Morgan Show to qualify for the Century Club, scoring a 66.52%. This is truly an accomplishment for anyone, let alone a team who meets the requirements for this exclusive club.
Congratulations to Harry and Playboy!!!
(Text by Deb Halsted and Lyn Alban)