While change can be difficult for some, Alberto Michan is thriving on it. The two-time Olympic and World Equestrian Games veteran for Mexico changed nationalities to represent Israel this year. Joining forces with Ashlee Bond, Danielle Goldstein and Daniel Bluman, he will be a part of the first ever Israeli team to compete at a major show jumping championship, having been named to the country’s team World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC.
Alberto, 39, also started his own business in the past few months, partnering with his brother and fellow show jumper, Daniel Michan; ADM Equestrian is now based in Wellington, Fla, and North Salem, NY. With the new endeavor came new horses, and when Alberto found himself without a WEG-ready horse, his teammate stepped up with a mount. Alberto will ride Daniel Bluman’s Bacara d’Archonfosse at Tryon in what will be their competitive debut as a pair.
“I was very lucky and fortunate that Daniel lent me one of his horses,” Alberto said. “She’s a very nice mare and she has a lot of miles under her wings. That for sure gives me confidence to go and try to do the best I can.”
Photo by Sportfot
Alberto began working with the 11-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare just a few weeks out from the Games. Partnership will be key, as both horse and rider have a wealth of success on their respective resumes. Bacara is a five-star veteran and won two four-star ranking classes at the 2017 Hampton Classic. She also jumped Daniel to runner-up honors in this year’s CSI4* Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake and notched two top five placings at CSI5* Berlin on the Longines Global Champions Tour. In addition to Alberto’s Olympic and WEG appearances, he’s also a Pan American Games team bronze medalist and was fifth individually at the 2012 Olympics in London (GBR).
“At this level, the horses really have to trust their riders. I’m trying to spend as much time as I can with her and trying to form a bond, but she’s a very simple, very kind mare,” Alberto said. “That’s a big advantage for me with such a short time to get ready. I think that’s her main strength. She really wants to do well. She has a great mind and just wants to please.”
Alberto and the rest of Israel’s contingent arrive at Tryon on Sunday, Sept. 9. He said there’s a unique excitement level to see the full team come together.
“It’s all very special,” Alberto said. “We all have big dreams – that’s how it all started. We feel such pride, honor and respect for Israel. If we can do something good for them in this sport, with this image of a very diverse group of people working together for a big goal and a love for this country that desires peace and love and unity, it’s very awesome. There are so many people wanting this team to succeed, and that makes it special.”
Photo by Sportfot
Like Alberto, Daniel and Ashlee changed their nationalities within the past year to make the team a reality. Daniel is similarly a two-time Olympic and WEG veteran, having competed for Colombia. Ashlee, riding for the United States, jumped in four World Cup Finals. Danielle has represented Israel the longest, having become an Israeli citizen in 2010 after riding for the United States. She jumped at the 2014 WEG in Caen (FRA) for Israel as an individual.
“It’s a nice thing. We come from everywhere. We have a group of riders with experience and who have represented countries and done big championships with big success,” Alberto said. “But we still have a dream to have a big medal on our chest and to get our national anthem played in a big stadium after a big championship. We’ve found a place where we can fight for that.”
What is Alberto packing for WEG? He revealed some of his must-haves:
Equiline Show Apparel — Alberto always wears his Equiline breeches on Grand Prix days. “I’ve been riding in Equiline for two years, and I really love it,” he said. “I have my lucky pants, socks, shirts and ties. It’s really important to me that I have gear that I’m comfortable in and that makes you feel like you’re ready for game day.”
A varied spur collection — Alberto always travels with a bag that contains several types of spurs. They vary in size and help him feel prepared for however his horse is feeling on a given day.
Samshield Riding Gloves
GPA Team Helmet — Alberto will be equipped with a brand new Team Israel helmet at Tryon.
Tie Pin — How many times have you seen a rider’s tie fly up in the ring? That’s not happening with Alberto. He always has some extra tie pins with him at the ring.
Photo by Sportfot
Boot polish — Ring presentation is very important.
- Rain Gear — If you can’t tell by now, Alberto is prepared for every possible situation at the ring. I can get behind that kind of organization! Alberto says he always has his rain clothes with him. “Especially at an event like WEG, if it’s raining, you have to go!” he said. “[Championships] are long days, and sometimes you are fortunate to go in the nice weather, and sometimes you are not. Having all your gear there makes a big difference.”
Feature photo by Erin Gilmore
Written by Catie Staszak
Catie Staszak can typically be found doing one of three things: talking about horses, writing about horses, or riding horses. A broadcast analyst and journalist at FEI competitions, she spends her time traveling to shows and getting behind the microphone to break down courses and get people excited about equestrian sport. Normally spotted with her dog Omaha nearby, she's grateful to be able to combine her greatest passions into a career she loves.