Friday, Mar. 1, 2024

Ringside Chat: Perry-Glass Brings A Change In Perspective To An Exciting New Ride

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It’s been nearly four years since Kasey Perry-Glass retired her longtime partner Goerklintgaards Dublet from the CDI ring.

Perry-Glass traveled the world with Diane Perry’s Danish Warmblood gelding (Diamond Hit—La Costa, Ferro). They contested two FEI World Cup Finals, earned a team silver medal at the 2018 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina), and earned team bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games (Brazil) in addition to several Nations Cup appearances and CDI Grand Prix wins.

Perry-Glass, 36, who splits her time between farms in Orangevale, California, and Wellington, Florida, had a brief stint in the small tour CDI ring in 2020 with Mistico TM, but when he retired, she was left without a successor to “Dublet.”

In the interim, she and husband Dana Glass welcomed a daughter, Tru Lynn Glass, in November 2021.

A year later, Perry-Glass went on the hunt for her next horse and found Heartbeat W.P., a now-12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Charmeur—Showtime, Ferro) in Europe.

Perry-Glass and “Heart” made their Grand Prix show ring debut in a national class at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival I (Florida) earlier this month, and last weekend, they came out to show again at the Gold Coast Opener (Florida), held Jan. 18-21 at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center.

Heartbeat W.P. with groom Meghan Laffin (left) and rider Kasey Perry-Glass, at the Gold Coast Opener (West Palm Beach, Fla.), where they won a Grand Prix class in their second show at the level. Photos Courtesy Of Kasey Perry-Glass

The pair finished second in one division of open Grand Prix (68.42%) and won a division of open Grand Prix (69.18%).

We caught up with Perry-Glass to learn more about her new horse and how her life has changed since Dublet’s retirement and becoming a mother.

Tell me about Heartbeat W.P.

I think his name describes his whole being. I feel like he’s always using his heart, and he leads with his heart, and I love that about him.

He came from Holland. Always the first ride you’re feeling a bit iffy about it. We had other horses to try, and he was always the top of the list of the horses we were trying. He was the only horse we went back for a second ride on. After the second ride—I went with my mom [Diane Perry] and groom and best friend Meghan [Laffin]—we all fell in love with him.

He did two Grand Prix nationals with a Dutch rider [Thamar Zweistra], so not a whole lot of experience at that level.

He ended up coming in with pneumonia, and he got really sick. He had several months off to recover. I think with the shipping from Europe and spending a day getting out of quarantine—the whole thing was a three- to four-day trip, and for him to be by himself, and he’s never flown—all that I think the stress of it was a lot for him.

I started riding him in January [2023]. We stayed in Florida for the summer instead of turning around and shipping him to California because we wanted to make sure he was fully in a system, training- and vet-wise.

He is a nervous horse. He’s very sensitive. The old owner sent us this well-written letter about what he liked and didn’t like and what he ate. I totally appreciated it. In it she said he really loves his people. I took that seriously because Meghan and I are very close to our horses. But he really does love his people. When new people come around him, he almost gets a bit cautious and stand-offish, and I have to tell them to come at him slowly and don’t overdo any touching. He’s very, very sweet.

I did a national [Intermediaire II class] in July, and that was just to go out and get my feet wet with him and see what we had. It was really up until the closing date of that show that we were even thinking about showing him.

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I’ve been working with one of my teammates, Ali Brock, with him, and it’s been so good just getting my confidence back in the ring because I’ve been out of it for a while. 

Even with the Grand Prix, we decided we weren’t going to sign up for anything until the closing date to make sure we were really prepared and somewhat solid in our Grand Prix.

Perry-Glass gets a congratulatory hug from her mother, and “Heart’s” owner, Diane Perry, after their win at the Gold Coast Opener (Fla.).

Had you taken on a horse of that level before?

Yes, Dublet was slightly trained at the Grand Prix. I think he had done one national at that point. 

To take over a ride like that, I think the misconception is that it’s easy. Everyone rides so differently, so just because they have those training aspects to them doesn’t mean that you can just hop on and go.

With Dublet I had several years at the small tour just to get to know him. With Heart, we took him on, and we were excited about him, but we had no pressure or any type of goals at that point. After having a baby, I really got lucky to have a mom that wanted to contribute to my riding career, so we went over and looked.

There was a lot of adjustment that came with his training for myself. It’s been quite the year.

You mentioned you lost some confidence in the ring. What do you mean by that, and how did you overcome it?

After retiring Dublet I had two quite tricky horses, and I didn’t show much. I think it’s also a skill to have a show mindset and a champion mindset, and just going in and being able to control my nerves and focus on the job takes repetition and takes some time, and I also don’t know him in the show ring.

There’s pressure that comes along with bringing a horse of caliber like him out and wanting to do good and show that you have a solid horse. I don’t want to let him down. For me it was gaining that confidence back that I can put in a solid Grand Prix test and go mistake-free.

Obviously, that didn’t happen, and it wasn’t mistake-free, but it’s getting back in.

What have you learned about yourself and Heart as you’ve gotten him into the show ring?

He is a total showman. Every time we go out, I feel that he has such a presence about him. He just creates so much power, and I think with him, he’s just going to get more and more confident with that and become such a show horse.

I’m really excited about it, because Dublet was the same way, and it’s really fun to have a horse that just wants to go out there and try their hardest. To build that confidence together—we’re really working on that. I think that he is, by nature, a nervous horse, but he’s very confident. It’s harvesting all that together and giving him confidence in these big international show rings.

What will you be aiming towards this season?

I think we will probably shoot for another national class. We’re going to be bringing Debbie McDonald in to be a part of this journey with us again and polish everything up and make sure we’re on the elite side of training. 

I think that the main goal with him has just been taking it one step at a time and not forcing it with him and making sure that we feel somewhat ready, even though you’re never ready.

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What were some of the highlights of your winning test this weekend?

The highlights for me were a very rideable test. His changes are always amazing. I think our twos were really good, and his piaffe/passage is really good. It’s just being able to get it in the show ring.

You got a chance to ride Heart in a commercial with other top dressage riders to promote Paris 2024. How did that come about? 

It was so fun. USEF contacted a couple of us to be a part of this commercial, and of course we were all like, heck yeah! It was a bit cheesy, but it was so well-produced, and it was going to shed good light on our sport. We were on national television during football. I think that’s amazing for our sport.

He was a superstar. He was not nervous. They had giant green screens and cameras, and they had us working on a little over a 20-meter circle, and he just took it like a champ. He was so, so solid. He’s a bit of a showman. All the other horses did well too. I was quite surprised because it was a bit overwhelming for most of the horses. It was fun too.

What was life like after Dublet? You traveled the world and had so much attention on you. Was it strange to step out of the spotlight?

Dublet did so much for me, and I did not want to push him for Tokyo, especially because it got pushed back another year. When I retired him, it was a letdown for a little bit, but then my husband and I were able to start a family, and I think that that has brought so much perspective to my life. 

I thought that I could handle pressure and stress until I had a child! Now it’s juggling being a mom, being a full-time rider, and every little detail that comes in between that. I don’t really have a schedule that’s set every day like I used to. I have to be adaptable when it comes to my daughter. 

But I think that every elite rider craves being back in the top of the sport, and I wasn’t quite ready to retire, you could say. I wasn’t ready to leave the elite side of things. We’re ramping up again, hopefully. It will be a whole new experience because I have a family—just balancing the workload between keeping Heart and my horses at home happy and also spending time with my daughter.

I feel a bit torn every direction every day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a lot of fun. All these other riders are having kids, and we can all commiserate together on feeling crazy and overwhelmed and knowing that it’s completely normal not to feel like you have it all together because most days we don’t.

What’s it like being a first-time mom?

It’s a lot of fun, and I’m excited for it because I think having Tru has made so much more perspective on life and on my confidence also. I think that being a mom, it gives you another area to dabble in other than focusing on if my horse does one-time changes correctly or not. Now I’m potty training. It’s a different world for sure.

Daughter Tru Lynn Glass “spends plenty of time in the barn”gets the full barn experience all the time,” Perry-Glass says.

She’s here every day. I have a lady that comes and watches her from 9-3:30, so she starts the morning in the barn with myself and Meghan, then when she comes, she goes and does fun stuff. At the end of the day she comes down and helps Meghan and I feed the horses and pick up poop and drag the arena. She gets the full barn experience all the time.

My husband has two cow horses that she just loves riding. We have her in soccer. We’re trying to keep her well-rounded. She’s a fun girl.

Who else do you have in the barn?

I have a 4-year-old Jameson Vitalis baby that I think is going to be really cool. My husband just broke him, and he’s been under his program for a little bit now. I have one client horse and then we have a horse for Meghan to ride, so we keep a small barn here. 

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