USA’s Kasey Perry Glass & Dublet Heading to Europe With Olympics as Goal
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, April 28, 2016–Just three months after Kasey Perry Glass competed Dublet in the horse’s first international Grand Prix, the pair embark on a journey aiming for their first championship that also happens to be the pinnacle of sport, the Olympic Games.
The 28-year-old Kasey has made the most of the month since the end of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival from which the pair emerged as No. 4 on the U.S. Olympic rankings to earn the trip to Europe to vie for a place on the American team for Rio de Janeiro.
Dedicating herself to training full-time with Debbie McDonald uninterrupted by shows, Kasey has experienced “the best rides ever” on the 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding as both have “kind of found our groove.”
Since starting Big Tour at the end of January, the pair have started 14 times for a record that Kasey said has “completely shocked” her of nine second places and three third places at Global, the most competitive circuit outside Europe and before some of the judges she will ride in front of if she makes it to Rio.
Her talent and focus combined with a down-to-earth attitude has won respect and endeared her to the dressage community in her new home town of Wellington. Moving up to a higher level bodes well for the pair ranked behind fellow first-time Olympic prospect Laura Graves on Verdades and Steffen Peters, a veteran of three Olympic Games and a slew of championships, on Rosamunde and Legolas.
Dublet, she said after a training session with Debbie a week before leaving for Europe, is “feeling great, he’s ready to go, he is show ready.
“I actually feel like it’s easier this year because I kind of know what to expect, training-wise. I’ve really connected with Dublet and I’m more connected with Debbie.”
Kasey said she’s not intimidated by the prospect of the head-to-head competition against Americans who have become her friends as well as the top riders in the world at some of the premier horse shows–the Rotterdam CHIO in June and Aachen, Germany CHIO in mid-July.
“I’m pretty confident in our training and his mind,” she said, “but I’m sure once I get to Aachen I’ll see the size of it and think I may be intimidated. But once I’m in the saddle, I’ll be really focused and tune everything else out.”
The family is close knit. Kasey’s father who played pro baseball coaches her through the emotional ups and downs and helps her put on a “game face.” If she’s nervous at a show, she can always talk to her sister.
Kasey switched to dressage from eventing at the age of 17 and while earning a degree in business entrepreneurship from California State University in Sacramento began training with Christophe Theallet who graduated from ENE, the French Riding Academy in Saumur, France.
In what was more a giant leap than a next step she asked her family for money to help achieve her goal of going to the summer Olympics in Rio. The business savvy family tasked Kasey with putting together a complete business plan with the history of the horse she wanted to buy, a slide show and the costs of reaching her goal.
The family bought into her dream and Kasey acquired Dublet (Diamond Hit x Olympic Ferro) from Andreas Helgstrand in Denmark
By February, 2013 she was competing Dublet at Small Tour in national shows and two months later made their CDI debut in California. A year later she skipped the California circuit and went to Wellington for its Global Dressage Festival of seven CDIs over winter.
It coincided with a virtual revolution in dressage in the United States, with Robert Dover as the national coach raising money to fund his ambitious program to get more Americans to Europe, and that included Small Tour combinations like Kasey and Dublet hoping to make the team for the Pan American Games.
Kasey believes that although riders go into the sport thinking it’s an individual pursuit she sees it as a team environment and has applied lessons from her years in Pony Club and as a high school basketball player–at 5 ft. 4 ins./162cm she was a point guard with ball handing skills.
Before the Wellington CDIO3* Nations Cup, a big chalk board was set up in the U.S. team stables with ride times so they could cheer each other on, one of the ways the Americans have adopted to help lift up team spirit and performance.
Team spirit will be vital as the six riders and eight horses expected to compete in Europe through July and end up going to the Olympics will be away from home for close to four months.
When she was a kid, Kasey had such fear of change that when she went to a friend’s house for a sleepover she would get so homesick she would have to go home.
But for much of the past three years she has lived out of a suitcase, bouncing around to Spokane, Washington; Southern California; Wellington, Florida; on the road in Europe; Idaho for training then finally returning to Wellington to settle with a husband at a new base.
The biggest change will be for Dublet who has become attached to Scarlet, Kasey’s schoolmaster Grand Prix mount that will not be making the trip to Europe as she did last year.