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Cowboy Kabeer


Just call him Cowboy Kabeer.

Don't fret Packers fans - the stud defensive end hasn't been traded to Dallas. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has been working this offseason to develop skills as a real cowboy by taking up horseback riding.

Gbaja-Biamila says he's always been fascinated by equines and is using his downtime in the offseason to become a proficient horseman.

"I always wanted to ride horses when I was a kid, but you can't really do that in Los Angeles," he said. "Now I live near some stables, so I thought this was a good opportunity."

Although the lessons that he has been taking with his wife, Eileen, are not the first time Kabeer has ridden a horse, they are his first training sessions.

"I've ridden before but never had proper training," he said. "If somebody I was visiting had a horse, I just jumped on it and started riding. But here I'm actually paying to get the proper training and learn the proper techniques of how to control the horse and how to take care of it from riding it to cleaning up after it."

While some might be concerned for the lineman's safety while riding, KGB is certain he's safer at the stables than on the football field.

"Playing football is more dangerous than riding horses," said Gbaja-Biamila. "Is it a risk? Yeah, but you have a trainer. I'm still at the walk, trot, and canter - slow canter. I'd like to go a little bit faster, but my trainer always stops me from going too fast."

Gbaja-Biamila has formed a good working relationship with one horse in particular at the stable.

"My horse's name is Buddy," he said. "I've been riding Buddy a lot but they're going to change it up because every horse is different. Right now when I get on Buddy, I know what I'm getting so my trainer is trying to get me to ride another horse so I can see the differences in the horses."

As comfortable as Gbaja-Biamila is getting with his hobby, he's not going to be entering any competitions and performing jumps or anything like that.

"I want to do more Western style things, just for leisure," he said. I'd like to ride on a farm or wherever."

Riding horses hasn't been the only new thing Gbaja-Biamila has been learning over the offseason, though. He's also been working to learn the new defense that will be installed for 2005 by defensive coordinator Jim Bates.

"I've gotten to talk with Coach Bates and he seems like a very nice guy," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I'm looking forward to working with him. I'm excited and he seems excited. He has that energy about him that I really like and (I like) his philosophy about the fundamentals of the defense."

Gbaja-Biamila, who in 2004 became the first player in Packer history to post four consecutive seasons of double-digit sacks as he tied his career-best with 13.5, knows that the defensive coaching staff will most likely have some changes in mind to improve his game even more.

"There's going to be some changes that they will want from me, but the changes will be to help me - help me be a better player than I am now," the lineman said. "It's going to be working towards my strength - getting off the ball and playing with speed, reacting with speed. I'm really excited about that."

While he's excited to get into the new defense, KGB will have to cut back on his horse hobby as the team's offseason program gets underway.

"I was riding almost every day earlier in the offseason," he said. "Now I'm going to be riding on my own and only have the trainer about once a week."

Soon enough, he'll have to trade in his saddle for shoulder pads and settle for riding offensive tackles into the backfield as he hunts down quarterbacks.

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