Kasey Perry-Glass on Making USA Olympic Team
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
To watch Kasey Perry-Glass ride Dublet on to America’s Olympic team she has appeared focused and cool heading to the biggest competition of her life after just five months at top sport. But since coming to Europe as part of the U.S. squad competing for one of the four places on the team for the Rio Games she admits going through a roller coaster of emotions.
“In my training I always have it in my mind that we have come so far in a short amount of time,” said Kasey. “I’ve always dreamed about being in this spot, but making it a reality is kind of surreal.
”I’m so in shock I’m here. But Dublet is happy and healthy. He’s smart, smart and lazy who lays down a lot.”
He has also won the admiration of judges, the panel in France awarding the pair 77 per cent that was the highest Grand Prix score for any American combination in Europe this year although just starting Big Tour.
Kasey was giving herself 24 hours to be in tears with the excitement of being selected for the team, or as she put it, “letting loose a little bit with my emotions.”
“Surreal” is understandable—she is the youngest rider at the age of 28 on the team with three-time Olympian Steffen Peters on Legolas, Laura Graves on Verdades that were team mates at the 2014 World Games and Allison Brock who also has not competed at major championships but went as a groom for Susan Blinks on Flim Flam that was owned by Fritz Kundrun as is Rosevelt.
Before coming to Europe two months ago, Kasey’s U.S. team experience was on Nations Cups at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington Florida—on Dublet at small tour in 2015 and then at Grand Prix taking gold this year.
In Europe, she and the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Diamond Hit x Olympic Ferro) led the U.S. team to victory in the Nations Cup at Compiègne, France and was part of the silver medal team at Rotterdam.
Kasey says she doesn’t get nervous at competitions and is used to the gypsy-like experience as she has been living out of a suitcase for most of the past two years–training that took her from her home in Orangevale, California to both sides of the country and to Europe last year before deciding to settle in Wellington to work full time with Debbie McDonald, who also trains Laura Graves. In addition to being regarded today as one of the top coaches anywhere, Debbie has been there, done that winning medals at one of her two Olympics, at both World Games and the fist American to claim the World Cup title.
“Everyone has some type of nerves when it comes to this kind of elite performance,” Kasey confided to dressage-news.com, “hearing a lot about the atmosphere at these big events. I told myself not to be nervous but to take my time and make double sure my attitude is positive.”
The length of time away from home will end up being greater than any previous American team–it’s already two months and by the end of the Olympics in mid-August it will be up to four months.
And having just Dublet she tends to “hyper focus” all her attention on the horse that can be emotionally draining on a bad day.
“I think you have to be mentally tough to be in this kind of situation.
“I’ve always been very determined and passionate about the things I’m working toward. It comes a lot from my dad who pushed me and helped me adapt through basketball and college.
“My personality is to keep going and find solutions to problems. If I am having a hard time I find ways to get out of that mental rut.”
Kasey credits her family and Debbie’s experience and always available ear “of working me through my emotions” along with her team mates giving her the extra push to succeed. She’s also working out a lot with her sister, Holly, who is grooming for Kasey.
Although her father is a psychologist, Kasey has pursued hypnotherapy that she says has helped a lot in dealing with her emotions.
She admits she was “nervous about my husband coming, it was a change of routine. I hadn’t seen him in three months. I was hypnotized not be nervous, I woke up and said, ‘OK’.”
In preparing for Rio de Janeiro, Kasey has concerns about the Zika virus and has researched blood tests she can take, but… “I hate to say it but you can’t really pass up the Olympics.”
“You have to enjoy the experience of riding for your country. It’s not just Global (Dressage Festival) any more.
“It’s exciting to be with the team every day that is so encouraging, keeping our heads straight and not being over zealous though we want to be on the podium.
“We’re having so much fun.”
Watching the “masters” Günter Seidel on Zero Gravity as well as Steffen and Shelly Francis that will be the traveling reserve on Doktor she describes as “awesome.”
Laura, Ali and herself “all have own personalities and do feed off each other to motivate each other positively. I don’t know how this team got so lucky to have such a good atmosphere.
“I think it’s very exciting for the USA.”