Kasey Perry-Glass Aiming Dublet for World Cup Final After Being Denied World Games Freestyle Competition
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Sept. 28, 2018
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Kasey Perry-Glass is bummed she didn’t get to ride Dublet in the World Equestrian Games freestyle to keep up the momentum that this year vaulted the American pair to the top tier in the world. Not to be denied, she has set sights on next year’s World Cup Final, the annual global championship focused on musical performance.
Kasey and the 15-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding have produced results in the last six months that have been the best in their career and among the best in the history of American dressage in a remarkable comeback from eight months out of competition.
The results have put them in a scoring league in 2018 surpassed only by Olympic bronze and WEG double silver medal team mate Laura Graves on Verdades, the incredible Isabell Werth on double World Cup champion Weihegold OLD, world championship double gold medal mount Bella Rose as well as Emilio and Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Cassidy.
The freestyle score for Kasey, who will be 31 years old in a couple of week, of 85.205 per cent in the prestigious Deutsche Bank Prize freestyle in Aachen, Germany in July, the last competition before the Tryon WEG, placing her runner-up to Isabell on Bella Rose.
Before Europe, however, Kasey had to earn her place on the squad from which the WEG team would be selected. Olympic bronze medal in 2016 didn’t count.
Needing a break both physically and mentally for both horse and rider, she began a break after a European swing in July 2017.
Originally from the Sacramento-area community of Orangevale in Northern California, she had moved across country to Wellington, Florida to be at the heart of resurgent American dressage that each winter staged the world’s longest running at 12 weeks and richest circuit.
And to work with Debbie McDonald, a legend as a competitor on Brentina to become the first American to capture the World Cup, two Olympics and two World Equestrian Games including the nation’s highest medal finish with silver in 2002. At five-foot nothing (152cm) and slight enough to be blown away in a breeze, Debbie had to rely on feeling and a close partnership with the horse–not strength or tricks–that was attractive to a new generation of riders on both sides of the Atlantic–especially to Kasey, Laura Graves and Adrienne Lyle.
“I think I’ve evolved a lot, learned a lot,” she explained. “I like being a softer rider. I don’t want to force anything with my horses. They’re happy. I like keeping things soft, supple and loose.
“I can’t ride with strength. Debbie, and Christophe Theallet whom I rode with before, gave me so much good training with riding light and effectively.”
As a member of the Rio Olympic bronze medal team in 2016, Kasey’s choices were confirmed. Kasey’s focus throughout the previous two years had been on achieving that goal. By the end of the European summer circuit at Aachen in July 2017, it was time for a break.
Return of the duo to competition in 2018 was last-minute. They squeezed in a CDI the last week of the Global Dressage Festival at Wellington the end of March. Then the WEG test event in Tryon four weeks later to pick up a required second CDI result to earn a trip to Europe to compete with eight other combinations for a WEG team spot.
“It was always a risk giving the horse the time off as I did,” Kasey said. “We didn’t get a whole lot of preparation before the first couple of shows. We didn’t have a whole lot of eyes on the ground until he was back in work. I knew there was going to be a lot of pressure on me.
“But it just kept getting beter and better. His body felt better than it did before the break.”
While in Europe, she was wasn’t just focused on herself trying to make the team for the home games, an American youth rider whose horse was stabled with the U.S. team in Belgium was looking for help from a groom to braid the mane. The youth rider was shocked when Kasey jumped in to do it herself. Surprising in that the Olympic team rider clearly enjoyed helping out, not surprising in the American team spirit that has become the envy of many nations.
Rotterdam, the first of the selection events for the Americans, did not see a repeat of 2017 when the U.S. won the Nations Cup. This year, it seemed to some who were there–including this correspondent–to be so overtly Dutch from judging, to staging a Netherlands-only team news conference (initially to be conducted in Dutch before this sole non-Dutch reporter reminded organizers rules require such to be in English or an English translation provided) midway through the team competition that it was close to being unwelcoming to others.
When Aachen, Germany came around a month later as the last U.S. selection event, Kasey showed she and Dublet like the rest of the Nations Cup team were ready for top sport. After the CDIO5* Grand Prix, the United States were in the lead with Laura and Verdades placing first individually to lead the way and Kasey and Dublet in fifth overall.
Germany won the Nations Cup based on combined Grand Prix and Special scores, but Kasey and Dublet moved up to third place individually leading the Americans to silver.
For Kasey and Dublet, the freestyle capped their dramatic return to the top tier of the sport–reserve champion to Isabell and Emilio with Laura and Verdades third.
Aachen was the first time that Kasey and Dublet placed ahead of Laura and Verdades since one other occasion, the Nations Cup in Compiègne, France more than two years earlier.
On to Tryon where, Kasay said, “It went really well for our team. We all went out there and performed the best we could. The team and our friendship is so strong.”
The U.S. took silver behind Germany on gold in the Grand Prix team competition. Laura and Verdades captured individual silver behind Isabell and Bella Rose in the Special. Kasey and Dublet were fifth. After a day’s break the freestyle was next up, but Hurricane Florence had other ideas.
“Obviously, I’m bummed we couldn’t do the freestyle,” Kasey said.
She knew that Laura Graves had tweaked her freestyle to add an American flavor–the music prepared by the show for her Grand Prix at the World Cup Final in Paris in April, Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America,” that Laura admitted fit her program. Adrienne Lyle had worked on a completely new freestyle for Salvino, using music from Bruce Springsteen, an American icon who is a global superstar.
Like many riders from aeound the world, she believes Tryon got a bad rap for “a lot of crap” that wasn’t justified. Most riders and their teams gave rave reviews to stabling, footing and even for groom’s housing, as well as expressing amazememt at the spectacular and extent of the show grounds and facilities.
Kasey thinks Dublet on his current fitness and training program feels like he’s eight year old and getting better who may be “even better next year” when she hopes to qualify for the World Cup Final. Their only previous World Cup Final was in Omaha in 2017.
“I think he’s going to be even better for next year,” she said. “We know him so well now. I’m really excited how we ended up at WEG.”
Dublet is getting a month or so off, mostly in the field having fun at the family’s Northern California farm that has an aquatred, lots of trails to hack and places to cross train. And for Kasey a feeling of home where she wants to spend more time, splitting her schedule with winter in Wellington and the rest of the time in California and Europe.
Meantime, though, she’s excited to get back to work with Debbie McDonald in Florida December.
“Next year I’ll be shooting for the World Cup,” she said, aiming for one of the two places allocated to North America out of a total of 18 starting combinations.
Aside from the World Cup, the Pan American Games are the only major international championship, though with the United States already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the top combinations are not expected to go to Lima, Peru for the mixed Big Tour/Small Tour competition.
For the leading American combinations, Aachen, Germany is expected to be the major draw as it is for the Europeans who regard the lineup of the best-in-the-world competition in dressage, driving, eventing, jumping and vaulting as about as close to annual world championships without being declared so.
Coming closer is Tokyo less than two years away, that Kasey admits she is keeping on her radar–“I think we would be a good combination for Tokyo.
“For now, I just want to keep his body and mind happy. I found a really good way to do that this year and want to continue to do that.”