Major career changes are not something new to me. Thirteen years ago, I was working as an investment banker when I decided to quit my job and pursue three-day eventing professionally. I blogged about that change and my journey to the CCI5* level that followed, and now I’m back again to share my journey as I embark on another new avenue in my riding career: show jumping. This time, it’s not a complete career change, but rather an expansion of my wheelhouse, as I set my sights on working my way up to the grand prix jumper ring while continuing to develop event horses to the four- and five-star levels.
A year ago, I could not have fathomed the idea that I would currently be shopping for a young show jumper and be dedicating as much time and energy to show jumping as I put toward preparations for five-stars. Sometimes, things just start to fall into place and, if you have an open mind and heart, opportunities present themselves, and belief in yourself starts to take hold.
For the 2023 season, I decided that my longtime five-star horse, AP Prime, now 19, would only run CCI4*-S competitions. He showed no signs of the top level of sport being too hard on him, but the risk of injury in the CCI4*-L and CCI5*-L is higher. After running around the Kentucky CCI5*-L cross-country clear four out of four times, he had nothing to prove. Taking a step back in the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S at Kentucky and the Adequan Advanced Final during the USEA American Eventing Championships (Kentucky), he had one of the elusive double clear cross-country rounds at both venues, but show jumping proved challenging. At the AEC, more rails came down than at any point in his career. These factors made two decisions very easy: “AP” would retire from eventing, and I needed to get to work on show jumping!
Last summer, I started taking lessons with Kayla Benney, a grand prix show jumper based in Ocala, Florida. After my four rails at AECs, I called her and said that I wanted her to teach me as though I knew nothing, and I would come twice a week with both AP and my three-star eventer, Bollywood, a 9-year-old U.S.-bred Oldenburg. I told her that I wanted the same lessons she would teach to a true beginner. After 10 lessons with nothing but poles on the ground, I was completely hooked on the system that she utilizes. AP also was really enjoying himself. Having passed his performance exam in September with flying colors and never having coped well with time off or a job that’s “beneath him,” I decided that AP and I would show jump until he gives me any indication that he is over it.
All the while, I was starting to shop for a young horse. Originally, I was looking for another eventer, but that quickly morphed into an eventer also careful enough to do 1.35- or 1.40-meter jumper classes. This winter, I started bringing both AP and Bollywood to the World Equestrian Center—Ocala, and I have truly had a blast show jumping for one of the first times in my life. Seemingly aging backwards, AP is jumping better than ever and is more and more excited to show every time we go to WEC, and Bollywood, who has never show jumped clear past 1.10 meters, has put in clear rounds in both the 1.20- and 1.25-meter! It didn’t take long for my horse shopping criteria to shift from an eventer to a proper show jumping prospect with the potential to do grand prix classes.
I’m not leaving eventing—the sport is my first love, and with Bollywood prepped for moving up to advanced this year, I have an incredibly exciting season ahead of me. I also have a beautiful young horse bred by Wits End Eventing to produce and sell, as well as a client’s horse to campaign and compete at the two-star level this winter. I am so grateful for these opportunities with my eventers, and I’m chasing new goals in pursuit of being more competitive at the four- and five-star level than I was in the past. That said, there is something truly thrilling about starting a completely new climb to the highest level of a new sport.
Leah Lang-Gluscic is a five-star eventer who operates her training, competition and sales business, LLG Equestrian, in Ocala, Florida. Her focus as a trainer and coach is producing safe, uncomplicated and successful horses and riders, and she specializes in connecting with and helping horses who have been misunderstood or lost the confidence and exuberance in their work. Lang-Gluscic is best known for her horse of a lifetime, AP Prime, a $750 off-the-track Thoroughbred she competed through the five-star level who never had a cross-country jump penalty in four trips around the Kentucky Three-Day Event.