A year ago, I was in a very different place.
My horse, AP Prime, and I were focused on our first four-star, and nothing else in the world mattered. This incredible creature, who I had found four and a half years earlier on the track for $750, had been making all of my dreams come true for our entire partnership, never missing a step. The Rolex Kentucky CCI**** was the pinnacle of those dreams, and we were within striking distance.
As it neared, the “the event that shall not be named is 37 days away” comments started, and needless to say, I became obsessed. When AP and I tripped and fell in the show jumping at The Fork and he banged his suspensory branch, the full extent of my neurosis became all too apparent.
From compulsive phone calls and texts to everyone involved in our program, to the sleepless nights, to the relentless palpation of his leg, I had turned into a full blown psycho! Up until the last minute, AP looked ready to go, but the plan was to always check the leg one more time before cross-country. Even though he was still sound, the ultrasound was not normal. As I made the very easy—but heartbreaking—decision to save my best friend for another day, all the tightly wound strands of my pre-Rolex compulsion began to unravel.
I must say, I held myself together pretty well that weekend. There were only a few people who triggered tears, and I kept my spirits up rooting for my fellow competitors. After Kentucky, I got the rest of my horses home to Illinois where we were all scheduled for a week of rest, and that’s when things started to get rough.
To say that I felt sorry for myself was an understatement! I gained back all of my pre-three-day weight loss by indulging in cheese curds and marathons of Law & Order: SVU for a week. I would mope around, some days never changing out of my pajamas.
Were it not for barn chores, I’m sure there would’ve been days that I never left the house. For the prior three months, I had defined myself by this goal. Without fulfilling it, I was a pathetic mess. Now, I humorously look back at that week as the “dark times.”
On Day 5 of the “dark times,” I texted my jumper trainer, Diane Carney, and asked if I could come take a lesson on one of her horses. In doing so, I gave myself the kick in the butt I needed to get myself together and have never looked back! The young horses all went back to work and had great seasons over the summer, and I stayed focuses on getting AP back from 95 percent to 100 percent
So this time around, I sat outside of AP’s stall at the Carolina International, after a great weekend, with a completely different outlook and perspective. At the beginning of the season, my dressage trainer, Peter Gray, told me the advice he had recently given to someone else. “Plan for your goals, and then just enjoy your horses.” That’s exactly what I’ve done!
Leah Lang-Gluscic and AP Prime jumping to 10th in the advanced division at the Carolina International CIC and Horse Trials. Photo by Lindsay Berreth
My calendar now holds all of the things that I fretted about last year, and I am committed to letting all of those worries live there and only there. I’ve changed my approach to my lessons. It’s no longer about riding for the competitions, it’s about me and my horse becoming more educated and technically more correct. It’s about the look in his eye when I hop off and whether or not I have made him feel better both mentally and physically with my ride.
My events are where I put our hard work to the test and let my competitive streak have an outlet. This year, the events are not who I am—they are an opportunity to show off my efforts to become the best rider, trainer, horseperson, and keeper for my wonderfully amazing horse, AP Prime!
Still five weeks out from Rolex, the full blown cray-cray is still a ways off; however, I feel like my outlook and attitude are going to stick! I’ve already had to make the toughest decision of my career and came out on the other side of it better and more prepared than ever. The hard moments really show us our priorities and values, and now, knowing myself that much better, I can go to Kentucky with the knowledge that I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to have my horse’s back.
With that frame of mind, there’s not much left to do other than stick to my horse’s meticulous program, work hard to get better, and enjoy the process, hoping that our first four-star is in the cards this year!
Leah Lang-Gluscic’s living every young eventer’s dream—competing at the upper levels with an off-the-track Thoroughbred horse of a lifetime who cost less than most saddles. But Lang-Gluscic didn’t jump right into life as a professional eventer. After graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in finance and accounting, she spent two years working at an investment banking firm. Even then she found time to ride, but in 2010, she decided to dive in and bought her facility in Freeport, Ill., and begin LLG Eventing.
Lang-Gluscic made waves in 2015 by entering her fairytale OTTB, AP Prime, in the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. She withdrew after the dressage, but is aiming to return to the Kentucky Horse Park again this spring. We’ll be following along as she blogs for www.coth.com!
Read more about Leah and AP in the 2015 COTH article “One To Watch: Leah Lang-Gluscic Will Represent OTTBs With AP Prime At Rolex Kentucky.”