They say that love makes people do crazy things. For some, specifically a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by the name of Cerise (Cicero Z Van Paemel—Relfe II Des Brumes, Non Stop), food is an even greater trigger.
Two days before her stay at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show in Upperville, Virginia, came to an end, Cerise made a carefully planned escape from the stall to nearby grass. While TMZ failed to catch it on camera, her publicists [grooms Corey Gallais and Quinn Reed] relayed the rundown on what happened; she went under the stall guard and walked through the gates of freedom.
Competed by Belgium’s Catherine van Roosbroeck until August 2016, Cerise was purchased by Sagamore Farms that winter. She competed in the amateur-owner jumpers and small grand prix classes with Debbie Dolan-Sweeney until McLain Ward took on the ride this winter.
This February, she competed with Ward at the CP Palm Beach Masters in Wellington, Florida, where they won the $25,000 Upperville Colt & Horse Show 1.40-meter class. Later that month they finished third in the $35,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45-meter Classic CSI***** only a couple blocks away at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Since January, the pair have continued to pick up top-ten placings as they get to know each other.
Get to know Cerise behind the stall door! She requests that you bring treats, as long as they’re not bananas.
• As long as Cerise is around, no food shall go to waste.
“She has the cleanest feed tub in the barn,” said Reed. “[She] licks it clean, every morning, every night; she gets every bite.”
“She loves her food,” added Gallais. “She loves the grass and could stay outside in the field all day. Right now, she could drag me [across the field] for food, and I’d go running behind her.”
• Treats or it didn’t happen?
“[When] she comes out of the show ring, the first thing she does it look at whoever’s there with her. She’s like ‘Oh, so they have a treat?!’ When she knows you more is when she tries to push at you, like ‘Oh, you’re going to give me something?’” said Reed.
• Cerise is a true professional at the shows.
“At Old Salem [Farm (New York)] it was pouring raining for the speed stake,” Reed recalled. “We were [in] the top of the order, and I think I took her out of the FEI barn three times, and they were like ‘No, go back, we’re pushing the class back.’ [Cerise] was just like, ‘OK, back again.’ She didn’t care at all [and wasn’t] worried. She was so centered, and she kind of stays that way.”
• It takes her awhile to warm up to strangers.
“She’s kind of shy and quiet when you’re first around her, but she comes out of her shell the more time you spend with her; she opens up, and she wants to be in your space,” said Reed. “She’s fun to be around; she’s quite cool.”
“When she doesn’t know someone she’s a bit scared,” added Gallais. “Once she knows you, she’s OK. When I started taking care of her I couldn’t brush her head, she’d start panicking. Now she’s very good.”
Once she comes out of her shell, there’s no going back.
“She’s very lovey [and is] all in your face,” said Reed. “You can walk in the barn and say ‘Cerise!’ and she’ll spin fast and [stand] right at the front of her stall waiting to say hi. Food’s a bonus, but she just loves the attention and being around people. She loves Corey so much.”
“She loves everyone,” Gallais said with a laugh.
• She’s a big kid at heart who loves to play with water.
“She loves baths, and she’ll [smack] her lips,” said Gallais. “When she’s wet she puts her head between her legs to catch the water. It’s funny because she grabs the water, but she doesn’t really like when you wash her head. When you use a sponge, you have to be gentle.”
• Cerise shows affection in her own way.
“She kind of gives you kisses and leans up against you,” said Reed. “We were at the ring the other day, and as we were waiting she put her chin on my shoulder and just stood there, just resting her head. She’s so sweet in that way.”
“She’s massive but she’s so [kind],” added Gallais. “When she kisses you she’s not rude, she’s very nice. [She doesn’t give a lot of kisses], but she’ll give.”
Brownie points if you give her a scratch or two on her sweet spot.
“[She likes to be scratched] right above her tail. She goes crazy, and she curls her lip,” said Reed.
• There is one thing Cerise doesn’t necessarily care for—her blankets.
“When we put her blanket on she bites [at it,]” said Gallais.
“It’s only the front strap, she never bites you,” added Reed. “One time she got my jacket and had a heart attack; she never wants to bite you.”
• The apple of her eye is fellow stablemate Upsilon De La Liniere, a 10-year-old Selle Français gelding (Tinka’s Boy—Firenze VH Waterschoot, Querlybet Hero).
“She was with him at [Devon (Pennsylvania),] and now she is next to him again [at Upperville,]” said Gallais. “At home, when he leaves for the ring she cries.”
• Although she’s pretty laid back, Cerise does have a quirk or two.
“Sometimes when we leave her with one horse she’ll stand up in the stall,” said Gallais. “[Other times] she’ll stand up and buck when all her friends are there, and nothing [had] happened, so we don’t know [why she does it.] [After] two or three times she stops and eats her hay.”