Frederik the Great: stallion and social media star
New York (AFP)
His name is Frederik the Great and he is decked out in black, with hair coiffed in long manly locks that he shakes in the wind, turning heads as he walks through New York.
He is debonair, known first and foremost for his devilishly good looks and the fact that as a consummate stud -- i.e. a stallion -- he makes more money and has more fans than most human counterparts.
Sometimes called the "Kardashian of horses," this well-known Friesian, who earns close to $20,000 a month according to owner Stacy Nazario, was recently in New York for a prestigious horse show and late-night TV appearance.
With his enviable social media presence and soon-to-be shampoo line and TV series, the equine star has become a veritable cash cow.
It wasn't always all glitter and glam for Frederik, however, whose stellar career has just as much to do with Nazario's marketing skills as the horse's resemblance to Black Beauty of literary fame.
After viewing thousands of pictures of Friesians -- a breed that comes from the Friesland region of the Netherlands -- Nazario, a former construction company owner, bought Frederik in 2007, bringing him from Europe to the rural US state of Arkansas.
After inviting a professional photographer to a photo shoot she quickly realized her new stallion was extremely photogenic.
"Right from the start he was performing like a true model, looking straight into the camera, a true showman," Nazario told AFP during the horse's recent visit to New York.
"He is a gentle giant, he can put his nose down on a newborn without hurting him," she said.
Soon she created an online presence for the horse -- posting his photos on the internet, building a website and starting a Facebook page and Twitter account.
And little by little, the internet -- with its insatiable appetite for animal photos and videos -- took notice.
With many baptizing the creature "the world's most beautiful horse," the YouTube clicks multiplied, climbing all the way to 15 million views.
And Nazario, who now manages Frederik's busy career full-time, knows how to feed the machine, scheduling photo and video session every two to three months to refresh his online presence.
Frederik's number one asset, his mane, is subject to the most care, requiring daily combing and braiding sessions. An annual haircut, during which nearly three feet (one meter) of mane is trimmed, keeps Frederik's hooves from becoming tangled in his tresses.
- Waiting list -
The horse, who visited New York in late September, was not only one of the stars of the Rolex Central Park Horse Show but made an appearance on CBS's "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" -- the same week as First Lady Michelle Obama and rock legend Bruce Springsteen.
With great fame comes great restrictions, however, and Nazario does not disclose the location of her Arkansas ranch for security reasons.
Nor does she accept every movie offer that comes her way -- she has already turned down two, preferring to focus on a mini-series that will feature Frederik's everyday life, beauty and personality. If everything goes as planned, it will arrive on small screens in approximately a year.
Requests to stud the horse -- for which Nazario charges $5,500 -- pour in from across the globe, but, the selective owner says proudly, "there is a waiting list."
Like any self-respecting celebrity, Frederik could soon have his own beauty line. Nazario is working on an all-natural, horse and human shampoo and conditioner that she hopes will hit shelves at the beginning of 2017.
The windfall that is Frederik the Great will not last eternally. The horse is already 15, and Friesians generally do not make it past their early twenties.
But in the meantime, Frederik is living his best horse life, strutting his stuff, and glowing in the social media limelight.
Asked if she sees the resemblance between her stallion and the clan of social media doyenne Kim Kardashian, Nazario said she doesn't really notice the similarity.
"Except maybe the fact that he's got a big booty," she said.
© 2016 AFP