In a blinding snowstorm, Leah Lang-Gluscic was clear-eyed and confident as she drove to an Illinois racetrack to place the bet of a lifetime.
The onetime investment banker who’d parlayed a degree from Wharton Business School into a two-year career in Washington, D.C., kept her hands steady on the wheel as she piloted her truck through the blizzard, excited to turn her life around.
Deciding to give up banking to focus full-time on a career with horses, she approached the small fairground in Martinsville, Ill., with very low expectations that the big bay she’d seen advertised by CANTER Illinois would be much of anything.
“When my sister Lindsay and I walked in to the shedrow, AP Prime was standing in his stall and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I hope that’s him!’ He was so big and handsome; he was the kind of horse who just looks you in the eye with confidence.”
When he emerged from his stall, he was clearly in good overall health. He was perky and attentive and about the worst thing you could say about his physical condition was that his toes were just a little too long.
Crediting the owner for taking such good care of his horses, Lang-Gluscic haggled a bit on price, and then wrote a check on the spot: For a $750 investment her fledgling career as a top-level Race name: AP Prime
Dam: Czarina Kate
Foal date: March 14, 2005eventer, trainer and coach was closer than she could have calculated in her wildest dreams.
Willing to follow Lang-Gluscic anywhere, AP Prime hopped onto the trailer and embarked on a six-hour, snowy drive to his new home at LLC Eventing Stables in Freeport, Ill.
It was December 2010, and aside from the hair-raising drive, it was smooth sailing that winter. Determined to let AP Prime unwind and settle in, he spent that first few months in a low-key fashion, she says, doing flatwork as she prepared him for jumping.
Perhaps she went a little too slow for AP, because one day as she rode him on the flat, he cantered her over toward the mounting block, got into position, rounded up and sailed right over it.
“I knew in that moment that this horse was destined to event!” she says.
As the spring show season got underway, Leah-Gluscic decided to take AP along for the ride. She competed her other two horses at formal shows, and when she had time, schooled AP on an adjacent foxhunting property.
He took to it like a duck to water!
“The last week were there, after schooling over little logs everyday, I decided to try him at a pretty tough triple-bar jump. It’s an upright jump with three wooden telephone poles, and it’s not inviting at all,” she says. “Most foxhunters ride around it.
“But, I pointed AP to it and about 10 strides out he just locked on, and that was the moment (April 2011) I thought, ‘OK, this horse is really, really cool.’ ”
Two months later, she started him in Beginning Novice eventing. He barely deigned to acknowledge the puny jumps. “He really didn’t jump them; they were just a big canter stride for him.”
So she quickly moved him up to Novice Level, and once he grew bored stiff with that, they advanced to Training Level and in April 2012, he moved up to Preliminary.
As they’ve barreled across country fields, the pair has impressed prospective buyers who have more than once offered to buy the bay Thoroughbred on site. They even caught the attention of superstar Boyd Martin, with whom they eventually trained.
It was while she was out walking a course one day, that she met top eventer Martin, who predicted AP would one day compete in four-star events, and who offered to give the duo a lesson.
“That’s the kind of exposure you need to make a career in this sport,” she says. “You really can’t go for a Boyd Martin lesson with just any horse.”
Now, as she readies her champ to compete in Two Star events this April and move up to the Advanced level, the former investment banker has to chuckle at her own luck.
She was wishing for a good horse. That is always the hope in this business. And as a lady who once emptied her savings account to import a horse who could not do half of what AP does, she understands that success in the competitive horse world is so often about luck and chance.
And the day she rolled into a far-flung racetrack and put down $750 on a horse she didn’t know, was a day that hit like a jackpot for the rising equine professional.
“He is truly a horse of a lifetime with really big things in his future,” she says. “If I hadn’t seen the ad on CANTER, and had never found AP, I very much doubt I would have a serious contender aiming for future Rolexes, like I do now.”