The water jump was frightful. Talented riders could barely stay in the saddle, some nearly fell; horses struggled to keep their feet on the ground.
From the sidelines Leah Lang-Gluscic watched with her coach Jennifer Rousseau, as they prepared. With mere minutes before it would be her turn to tackle the Richland CIC** last weekend, the young rider promised to stick to their plan: Move through it with enough impulsion and power to tackle the elements of the obstacle, including a tricky jump up to a downhill landing. Never deviate from the plan.
By the time Lang-Gluscic and her off-track Thoroughbred AP Prime leapt from the starting gate to gallop toward that and other obstacles, on a course where jumps were tricky and time faults mounted for even the very best of the best, the young rider was sure they would conquer the field.
“AP was so on. He didn’t take a wrong step. And at every combination I could feel his brain just turning and figuring it out,” she says. “I knew no one was making time on this ride, but as I started getting out ahead of our minute markers, I knew we had a chance. He just never let up.”
In the end, competing against the royalty of the sport, Lang-Gluscic and the OTTB she bought two years ago off the track for $750, finished in 14th place out of 50 competitors. In addition, he was double clear in the cross-country round, one of only five competitors!
“I’m really over the moon about AP,” she says. “He is really starting to feel so educated. He is starting to make those decisions about how to jump in a pretty significant way. He’s only 8 and I think he’s just hitting his prime, and that if we keep going like this, Rolex could be in his future.”
As successful as the cross-country and earlier showjumping round went —he only had one rail down in a field of competitors with few clear rounds—dressage remained the biggest sticking point.
Tending to be a little hot in the Dressage ring, AP managed to work very accurately and obediently, but was nonetheless lacking in his collection, engagement and showmanship, she explains.
“I was actually pretty disappointed when the weekend started. We were in 39th place in Dressage,” she says. “But then I have to remind myself he’s only been off the track for two-and-a-half years.”
The team gained back 10 points however, during the show jumping round as she rode with the boldness and confidence she had been practicing under the tutelage of her show jumping coach Diane Carney. “I literally took my coach’s advice, which was, that I had to be unwaveringly dedicated to my track. After walking the course twice, I had planned where I wanted to go, and I had to stick to that. And I had to have the power and quality of canter to get each of those jumps done.”
First featured in an Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com article in January, when Lang-Gluscic made a chancy bet on a cheap Thoroughbred, the former banker has been seeing her small investment return giant dividends in the form of sheer showing accomplishment.
Now pointing toward the Fair Hill** in October, Lang-Gluscic is hopeful of upping the ante and adding to the accomplishments the pair has racked up.
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