Saturday, May. 18, 2024

Glorieus Makes His Derby Comeback A Winning One At Pin Oak

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When her husband first suggested Courtney Lenkart try Glorieus in a hunter derby at Pin Oak in 2019, she was hesitant. Scott Lenkart had been showing the stallion in 1.40-meter jumper classes but felt the big bay wasn’t ready to step up to grand prix just yet. However, with three top-dollar hunter derbies offered at the three-week Texas show, Scott thought the ring change was worth a shot.

“He was like, ‘Why don’t you just get on and try a couple jumps and see, would it be a good idea for him to do those classes,’ ” recalled Courtney, who wasn’t initially sure she and the powerful stallion would be a good fit. “His first class that week, I think I got an 88, and Scott jokes, he was like, ‘I lost my horse in a minute and a half. He’s gone.’ ”

The 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Lucky Boy—Toberlina S, Corland) owned by La Primera Hacienda LP took to the slower pace immediately, earning a reserve championship in the 3’9″ green hunter division and winning the first round of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Pin Oak Charity.

“We just try really hard to listen to the animals, and you could tell that he [was thinking], ‘I was made to do this, actually,’ ” Courtney said. “You could tell that’s what he said. As soon as he did it he was like, ‘Oh, that’s so fun.’ ”

Glorieus made his return to the international hunter derby ring a winning one on April 14, topping the $30,000 class at Pin Oak Charity (Texas) with Courtney Lenkart. Andrew Ryback Photography Photo

From there Glorieus became a consistent ribbon-winner, earning his first derby win at the 2020 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival IV (Michigan). That fall, Courtney piloted him to victory in the WCHR Professional Challenge at Capital Challenge (Ohio) earning them a spot in the USHJA WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular during the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.

But they never got a chance to compete in the class. Courtney showed him in two classes earlier in the week to keep him fresh, however on the day of the Hunter Spectacular, he wasn’t quite right. Diagnostics revealed an injury that kept Glorieus out of the ring until late September 2022.

“Up until a few months ago we weren’t sure if he would [come back 100%] honestly,” Courtney said. “We kept trying and trying. He does treadmill; he does tons of handwalking; he did light rides twice a day, all that kind of stuff. But he just wasn’t quite himself, and then all the sudden he’s taken a turn, and he feels so—so good—and we’re just praying. We’ll show him as long as he’s healthy and happy, and then he’ll have a nice retirement.”

It’s fitting that Glorieus’ return to the international hunter derby ring came—more than two years later—at the same place he made his debut, the Pin Oak Charity in Katy, Texas. On April 14, the pair took control of the leaderboard after the classic round, and with even larger scores in the handy, they earned a decisive victory.

“I was so nervous because it had been so long,” Courtney said. “He felt really good, but he didn’t to me feel exactly the same that he did before.”

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“Before that class we were in the schooling ring, and my husband set a kind of small but wide oxer, and he just powered over it, and I’m like, ‘Oh, we’re good. We’re good,'” she added. “It felt like it did before. And we went into the ring, and it was.”

See Lenkart talk about her win, courtesy of Pin Oak Charity Horse Show:

For his part, Glorieus seemed to wonder why he had to wait so long to get back in the spotlight.

“He was so upset when the trailer would leave and he wasn’t on it,” she said. “Oh my goodness, so upset. He loves going, [and] for that night class too, he just is a different horse—’All right, let’s go; this is my jam. I’m ready.’ ”

When Courtney returned to the barn following her win, she was met with a large contingent of clients and friends from her South Haven Farm in Bartonville, Texas, including Glorieus’ owners, Angela Dominguez and Michael Barber.

“When I walked back to the barn, I would say there were probably 30 people in the barn—people that ride with us and parents and grandparents and the amateurs that ride with us,” she said. “It was the best feeling. They were just screaming so loud. It was so cute. It really made it feel like you were part of a family.”

Glorieus even got into the festivities.

“They put champagne in his little trophy thing, and he was drinking out of it, and everyone was doting,” she said. “He was soaking it all up. He’s ridiculous.”

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Glorieus enjoying the spoils of victory. Video Courtesy Of Courtney Lenkart

While Dominguez and Barber have been longtime clients of the Lenkarts, Glorieus was the first horse they purchased intending to be a professional’s ride. They found him during a 2018 horse shopping trip in Europe with the Lenkarts. After Scott test rode the then-stallion, Glorieus made an impression on Dominguez back in the barn.

“He basically was following her around, and she just fell in love with him right then,” Courtney said.

Though now gelded, Glorieus retains his stallion’s physique, but on the inside he’s a big softy. While he was injured he was on extended stall rest, and he showed signs of depression. Looking for something to boost his spirits, Courtney suggested to Dominguez that they try getting him a stuffed animal. While she’d never participated in the trend of giving high-performance horses children’s toys, she’d heard stories of horses bonding with their toys.

Dominguez took her assignment seriously, purchasing him a 48-inch bunny that now hangs over his stall.

“It changed his whole life,” Courtney said. “It’s his companion. He goes underneath the bunny, and it lays on his back. It goes on the side of his neck, the side of his shoulder. I mean he’s always with his bunny. It is the craziest thing.”

Glorieus with his beloved bunny. Photo Courtesy Of Courtney Lenkart

Glorieus became so attached to the bunny that he now has a second one that travels to shows with him. His attachment became clear following a well-meaning joke where the bunny was seat-belted into one of the trucks on the farm and accidentally left behind when the South Haven team headed to Pin Oak.

“His groom—he felt so bad he didn’t have the bunny—but he was like, ‘I’m concerned about Glorieus,’ ” Courtney said.

The horse was acting sick, so Courtney called a vet to check him and possibly run fluids. The vet arrived, checked him, and didn’t see anything amiss. That’s when Courtney made the connection to his beloved stuffed animal.

” ‘I’m afraid he’s depressed because he doesn’t have his bunny,’ ” she recalled telling the vet. “He looked at me like, ‘What? You have got to be kidding me.’ The next day his mom came down and brought the bunny, and he was back to normal. It is the craziest thing, and now he’s attached. He has to have it with him. It’s really cute because he’s like this beefy football player dude, but he’s so sweet.

“And then of course everyone in the barn is like, ‘Can I get a —?’ I’m like no, we cannot take a U-Haul with 35 ginormous stuffed animals to the horse show. I’m sorry. I can’t. We can’t do shipping on stuffed animals,” she said with a laugh.

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