Kerri Grosslight wasn’t really in the market for a horse when Sapphira Wade came into her life. “I really didn’t expect to enjoy her as much as I do. She was one that I kind of said ‘Great, thanks for the opportunity to ride her,’” Grosslight said.
Grosslight, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., keeps her horses in Oregon with trainers Rich and Shelley Fellers. Sapphira Wade was in former trainer Betty Beran’s barn in Arizona as a sales horse. “She was being tried by another client of Betty’s and they opted to go with another horse. Betty said ‘Hey, if you want to just ride her go ahead and have some fun.’ I really hit it off with her and loved her. I was just happy to have something to ride while I’m here in Arizona,” Grosslight said. “But then I just didn’t want to part with her. I thought about someone else buying her and I said ‘I just can’t let that happen.’”
That was in May, and six months later at the Las Vegas National (Nev.) on Nov. 12-17, Grosslight scored the win in the North American League West Coast Adult Amateur Jumper Final aboard her unexpected partner.
“Las Vegas was really just a culmination of so many things coming together,” Grosslight said. She won two adult amateur jumper classes at the show aboard her other horse, Quidam Van De Kapel. “For the [NAL Final], I was double clear on both of them and then had the winning jump-off round on Sapphira Wade. It was one of those wonderful surprises. I’m so fortunate to have two horses in that class and place with both of them,” she said. “It was very special. The horse show management and sponsors made it very special. It felt like it was a great finale for the year.” Grosslight was also fifth on Quidam Van De Kapel.
This year brought a lot of changes for Grosslight. Not only did she add Sapphire Wade, or “Suede” to the family, but she also switched trainers. She’d ridden with Rich and Shelley Fellers for more than 10 years until she moved to Arizona in 2003, when she started riding with Beran. “I had great horses and lots of success with Rich and Shelley, so it was hard to move,” she said. “It was a real change in lifestyle going from Portland to Arizona. The horses had to go from grassy paddocks to the desert. It was different!”
Grosslight’s move south came due to her job as executive vice president for risk and compliance, technology and operations at Wells Fargo. “Essentially, I cover anything to do with risk. Today in the financial services industry, that’s a big deal,” Grosslight said. “There’s a lot happening within the industry and economically. Every single day, I wake up and I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing! Every day there’s something new to contend with. I’m very passionate about my job and really enjoy it; it does keep me busy!”
Grosslight, 54, grew up riding, but didn’t show much. Her experience as a junior was mostly in summer camp or lessons. It wasn’t until she graduated from college and settled in Southern California that she caught the showing bug. She rode with Julie Smith to start, then started her relationship with the Fellers’ in 1991 when she moved to Oregon.
Grosslight’s job keeps her on the road (or, in the air!) much of the time, so when she reconnected with the Fellers’ this winter at the HITS Desert Circuit (Calif) shows, it didn’t seem unreasonable to send her horses home with them. “I love their program, so I decided to give it a shot and so far it’s paid off really well. It felt like going home because I’d spent so much time with them,” she said. She still keeps Suede at Beran’s and rides as much as she can when she’s in Arizona. But she also flies to Portland two or three times a month to ride her horses there. “When I am able to ride, I try to do it multiple days in a row in order to try and improve,” she continued.
Grosslight has two horses with the Fellers’—Quidam Van De Kapel who Grosslight shows in the adult division and Sable, an 8-year-old. Suede, a 14-year-old warmblood of unrecorded breeding, competed in a variety of divisions with a number of rider in 2011 and 2012 before Grosslight bought her. She hopes to move up to the low amateur-owner jumper division in 2014.
Other NAL West Coast Final winners included:
Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper – Hannah Holik on Santiago
Children’s Jumper – Annie Miller on Amore Mio
Adult Amateur Hunter – Mindy Coretz on Stone Town
Children’s Hunter – Abby Barrett on Quilambo
For in-depth coverage of the $50,000 Las Vegas CSI-W from the Las Vegas National, detailing what brought California native Andrew Ramsay back to the United States after four years in Europe, see the Dec. 2 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.
That issue is also the Amateur Issue, with a story about maximizing your clinic experiences, a humor article about some new imaginary amateur rules, and profiles of newsworthy and inspirational amateurs.