Canadian Olympic eventer Peter Gray had a secret. While eventing was his first love, he’d always secretly harbored a desire to try out the highest levels of dressage.
“I love show jumping too,” he admitted. “I love all types of riding. In the late ‘80s I was living in England, and at the point Carl Hester was still eventing. I helped him with his jumping, and he helped me with my dressage.”
So when Gray decided to explore his interest in dressage, it was Hester he called while searching for a horse. That led him to Collo 5, a 16-year-old Holsteiner Grand Prix schoolmaster. Hester had him in his barn to sell for Jane Clark.
“As soon as I saw him, I knew,” said Gray. So he bought the enormous 18-hand gelding and asked Hester if he could expect to start riding Grand Prix in six weeks or so.
“When Carl said a year, I was devastated,” admitted Gray. “But it’s not as easy as I thought. I’m learning so much. He’s a great professor, but you have to develop a partnership.”
Gray contested the small tour classes in his first CDI at Wellington over the weekend and placed in the middle of his classes with respectable tests. He’s been training with Belinda Nairn-Wertman and Lorraine Stubbs in Canada.
“I haven’t told anyone I was doing this,” said Gray. “That way if it didn’t work out, no one would know.”
And Gray said that a year after purchasing Collo, he is close to entering his first Grand Prix. “It’s certainly helping my eventing dressage,” he said with a laugh.