Kasey Perry-Glass and her sister, Holly Perry Gorman, have shared a love of horses for as long as either of them can remember. But when Perry-Glass asked Gorman to be her head groom eight years ago, they had to learn to share a workspace, too.
“Sisters, they argue,” Gorman said with a laugh. “In the beginning, it was definitely a rocky road.”
Gorman and Perry-Glass are the youngest of five siblings. They started riding when Gorman turned 6 and Perry-Glass 5, both following in their mom and older sisters’ footsteps at a local barn in Sacramento, California. They learned to event with Carmela Richards and Olympian Gina Miles, then shifted to dressage during their high school years.
After graduation, their paths diverged. Perry-Glass went to California State University to study entrepreneurship and took a brief break from the saddle, while Gorman took a working student position with dressage trainer Gina Duran. She hoped to ride professionally one day. But then she met her husband, Randy Gorman, a generator diesel mechanic for an aviation unit in the U.S. Army.
“I got married in 2011 and pretty much immediately stopped riding,” Gorman said. “It’s an expensive sport, and I just wasn’t able to afford it.”
Gorman had settled into life as a military spouse on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Olympia, Washington, when Perry-Glass’s international riding career started to take off. In 2012, Perry-Glass and her parents purchased Goerklintgaards Dublet (Diamond Hit—La Costa, Olympic Ferro) with Olympic dreams already in mind. And for Perry-Glass, family was always a part of that dream.
“Family is the most important thing for me, always,” Perry-Glass said. “Going into this big adventure with ‘Dublet,’ I wanted someone who was my best friend with me. The only choice I had for that was Holly.”
Perry-Glass asked Gorman to be her head groom and their mom, Diane Perry, to serve as CEO of her training business. Another sister, Amanda Perry, became head of marketing while their dad, Robert Perry, took the slightly less glorified role of truck driver, with no complaints.
For Gorman, the job came at just the right time.
“Of course I still had a passion for horses, because honestly who could not? They’re like the best thing to be around!” Gorman said. “But also, my husband was just leaving for his first nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, so it gave me a distraction and a way to keep busy while he was away. I had already planned to move home for the deployment, so it really worked out perfectly.”
Working for Perry-Glass gave Gorman plenty of distraction, although not always in a good way at first. Only 1 1/2 years apart in age, she and Perry-Glass were both in their mid-20s at the time and neither had much experience in their new roles.
Add in a little sibling rivalry, and fireworks were inevitable.
“We definitely went through a period of constant fighting,” Perry-Glass said. “Thankfully, we’re really good about keeping that between us and not creating fights amongst everyone else, because it took us a good solid year to find a rhythm together. Holly is very different than I am. She’s very laid back and doesn’t stress about a whole lot. I’m the complete opposite and stress about everything! It took a lot of adjustment.”
In time, Gorman realized that her relative nonchalance could be an asset working for Perry-Glass—a yin to the yang of her sister’s competitive edge.
“It was a growing experience for both of us,” Gorman said. “At first it was challenging, and we had to rely on our mom to kind of play both sides. Kasey is very particular about how she likes things, which any professional dressage rider would be. As we grew, I just kind of learned to keep my mouth shut and take everything with a grain of salt. Now, I know that whenever she gets a little irritated, it’s mostly because of nerves or something deeper inside than just being upset with me. If she’s upset, I’ll get it done, then later on go to her and be like, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ and we’re able to talk everything through.
“I think a lot of that has come with age and maturity,” she concluded. “In the beginning, we were both on uncharted ground.”
Despite initial turbulence, Gorman quickly came to love her work. She has a soft spot for Dublet, whose “steady Eddie” attitude mirrors her own.
And as Perry-Glass’s competition calendar began to fill, so did Gorman’s passport.
“I am blessed to be able to go along to all these cool places. Not everybody gets to do that, especially with their sister, mom and dad,” Gorman said. “I’ve been able to explore London, different cities in Belgium, then Sweden last year, which was really beautiful. I feel a little bad for my other sisters who don’t get to come!”
Part of that travel has involved getting to know the other grooms for Team USA, who have played a part in Gorman’s education as well as her best memories.
“For the most part we all get along really well, although by the end of [the 2016 Olympic Games] we were all getting a little irritated with each other. We’d been together for three months before we even got there, and that’s just too much togetherness,” Gorman joked. “But we have a great camaraderie. It’s always great to see Steffen [Peter’s] groom, Eddie [Garcia], who’s ancient—he’s been there forever. We bicker back and forth like brother and sister. Ali Brock’s groom, Kerri [Coufal]; Laura [Graves’s] groom, Emmalie [Clapp] and Adrienne [Lyle’s] groom, Morgan [Klingensmith]; they’re all great people. It’s an honor to work alongside them.”
These days, Gorman only works competitions, flying to the show grounds a few days before the jog and flying home to Washington after the trailers are loaded. She loves the Pacific Northwest and is excited that Perry-Glass’s slower schedule this year means she’ll actually get to spend a full summer at home—her first since moving to the Evergreen State in 2011.
She doesn’t have horses in Washington, although she still takes care of two dogs, two cats and two bunnies (named Cotton and Candy). Even during show season she only hacks out on rare occasions. But Gorman doesn’t have any regrets about the way things turned out.
“I definitely don’t have the drive that my sister does,” Gorman admitted. “She’s always been very driven, very anal-retentive, which I think you have to be. Is it a bummer that I don’t get to ride horses very often anymore? Yes. But I’m not sour about it at all actually. It’s a lot of work, and I definitely applaud Kasey for all the work she does. I’m blessed that my mom and Kasey have tons of horses, and I still get to play around with them and sometimes get on. It’s really a win, win.”
For Perry-Glass’s part, she can’t imagine her career without Gorman in it.
“When I go to shows, I’m really looking to [Holly] for guidance,” Perry-Glass said. “She puts me in check when I have a bad attitude, and we’re so opposite, she’s able to keep me relaxed and focused just by being there. I think the last several years have really brought us closer together as sisters, and closer together as teammates.”
While grooming for your younger sister is definitely unique, Gorman thinks that their relationship isn’t actually all that different from other grooms and trainers. Her best piece of advice for others is to lean into the closeness of the relationship, even without a familial bond.
“Just listen. Be a therapist to your rider,” Gorman said. “That’s what I feel like I am. Be a listening ear so they can sound things off to you.
“Oh, and don’t go anywhere without a sheepskin mitt,” she added seriously. “Not a very exciting tip, but seriously—it’s dusty everywhere.”