Now the bay gelding is tried and tested and I hope to ride him across Kazakhstan, he can finally be unveiled as the new Zorbee, or should I say KaZorbee! A worthy representative for our sponsors Vidazorb, as he is calm and steady, but also has a bit of a kick, rather like the marvellous Vidazorb probiotics he is named for! And of course a natural product.
He is the right age and size, and a comfortable ride. Although not as bombproof as Bajiu, he is pretty unflappable. A slight attitude problem leads me to believe he has been getting away with things with someone in the past, but that is hopefully being ironed out. He can be tethered absolutely anywhere without mishap and is easy to lead. He is essentially a friendly chap and good to handle, though can bite and kick if he is unhappy. But that is undoubtedly the result of past handling, and it certainly did not deter Vladimir the wonderful farrier at Sergei Buikevich’s Equestrian Centre, who made an impressively calm and efficient job of reshoeing him without any Asian-style methods of restraint, and with a excellent set of shoes.
He is relaxing in luxury at the centre (at Butakovka near Almaty), which is like a rather grand equestrian health farm equipped with every sort of horsey amenity - he even had a wash in their equestrian shower room on arrival, before his manicure. Quite a rise in the world for a meat horse, as he rubs shoulders (not literally) with some stunning and no doubt extremely expensive horseflesh.
Here is Sergey with his Grand Prix dressage stallion Voltan - to my surprise he is an Akhal Teke, but nothing like the whippet like creatures I am used to. A big strong lad, he is apparently descended from the famous stallion Absent, who was the same type. In the meantime Marat the guide and I have been completing arrangements for my 4WD and driver.
The 4WD is an experienced but serviceable Lada Niva which I have bought from Valentina who is trading up. And to drive it I now have a charming young English speaking Uighur from Karakol in Kyrgyzstan by the name of Bakhram. I seem to be doing a line in Uighur drivers. Here they both are posing together in the mountains behind Almaty when we went for a recce today.
Unlike in China, I will actually be able to drive the Lada myself, and I intend to use it to get to Atyrau when I have finished riding next month.