Pony Club Alumni contest Rio!

As we all know the 2016 Rio Olympics are in full swing. Thanks to USPC staff member, Jenny Van Wieren-Page, we can share a few awesome Q & A articles with some of the US Dressage Team members who are Pony Club Graduates!

Traditionally when you think of Pony Club Alumni who go on to become Olympians you think of the sport of Eventing. While, that may still be true, many Dressage Olympians also have a history of beginning with Pony Club. The 2016 US Dressage Olympic Team has two athletes (Kasey Perry-Glass and Allison Brock), Chef d’Equipe (Robert Dover), a groom (Holly Gorman- sister of Kasey Perry-Glass) and Team Leader (Hallye Griffin) who all started their equestrian career with Pony Club. The following are some interesting insights from former members, Kasey Perry-Glass and Allison Brock as well a what they are most looking forward to at the 2016 Rio Olympics

Kasey Perry-Glass riding in her first Olympics with Goerklingaards Dublet (owned by Diane Perry) C-3, Sierra Gold Pony Club.

Kasey and Dublet in Rio Photo Courtesy of Robert Dover
Kasey and Dublet in Rio
Photo Courtesy of Robert Dover

What did you find most useful from Pony Club that you still use today?
Perry-Glass: The Horse management can be a major factor in success when traveling overseas with a horse.

Do you still use your Pony Club manuals?
Perry-Glass: While I don’t have the PC manuals with me now while on the road, I have used the principles I’ve learned from them every day! I believe they provide tons of very useful and relevant information for everyday horse management. Since I’ve been travelling so much the last few years, I keep the manuals at my family barn in Orangevale, CA for safe keeping. In general, I believe it’s a very good idea to have them in the barn!

You and your sister grew up riding together, was that competitive or supportive?
Perry-Glass: My sister Holly and I have always been both competitive and supportive of each other. Over the years it has changed a lot – when we were younger is was more competitive just because I always wanted to be like her or beat her in competition. In return she never wanted her little sister beating her, either! Fortunately, we never fought over it, and now we are very supportive of each other. She has taken the role of being my groom, and is absolutely amazing at it. She knows everything about my horse and his needs, and is there at every competition. It’s great that we have the same background in Pony Club, it has given us the same methods of working with our horses which only makes us stronger as a team.

If you could go back and redo anything in your Pony Club career what would that be?
Perry-Glass: If I could change anything about my career in Pony Club, it would be that I wish I would have stayed longer. I would have loved to be a higher rating when I was done with Pony Club.

Are they any changes you would like to see in Pony Club?
Perry-Glass: When I was involved with PC we would only meet once a week to have meetings and lectures. I would love to see more weekly education so the members could learn more about horse and stable management.

Your family is a huge support system for you, was it a family affair in Pony Club as well or did your parents have a smaller role then?
Perry-Glass: It was definitely a family affair. Even though my other siblings weren’t involved in PC except my sister Holly, my parents were very involved. My mom would always take us to the weekly events and practices. When we would participate in rallies like EBTH both parents would go and support.

Your father was a professional baseball player, did he see the value in a sport focused youth organization like Pony Club? Or was it a way to keep their horse crazy girls busy?
Perry-Glass: Both my mom and dad always wanted us to find something we had a passion for, and they encouraged us to participate as much as possible. They both felt that Pony Club was a great environment for us to make life-long friends and learn about what we loved, horses. They believed that if we really wanted to stay into horses and be competitive we had to learn all we can about them. It was important to them that we had to be responsible in caring for our own horses.

Has the Olympics always been your goal?
Perry-Glass: I’ve always dreamed about going to the Olympics. Once I finished college, I decided to direct my full attention to my riding career which entailed my focus on going eventually making an Olympic team.

What non-riding skill you use most often in your Olympic path, ex: patience, organization, focus, etc.?
Perry-Glass: I use a lot of these! Patience, organization, focus, determination, never quitting even if it gets hard, and compassion for the horses.

What are you most looking forward to on this Olympic journey?
Perry-Glass: I am looking forward to being a part of a dream team! Taking in all the ups and downs of this journey. Learning from my mistakes and excelling from them.

What does it feel like to be named to your first Olympic Team?
Perry-Glass: It feels unreal! I think I will be in shock till we board the plane to RIO! I am so lucky to be on a team with such dedicated, strong, caring, and loyal people.

What Pony Club lessons will you rely on during the Olympics?
Perry-Glass: I will rely on several of the core values of Pony Club; Horsemanship with respect to healthcare, nutrition, stable management, handling and riding a mount safely, correctly and with confidence. Organized teamwork including cooperation, communication, responsibility, leadership, mentoring, teaching and fostering a supportive yet competitive environment. Respect for the horse and self through horsemanship; for land through land conservation; and for others through service and teamwork.

Allison Brock riding in her first Olympics with Roosevelt (owned by Fritz and Claudine Kundrun) C-3, Lio Lii Pony Club

Allison and Rosi in Rio Photo courtesy of Robert Dover
Allison and Rosi in Rio
Photo courtesy of Robert Dover

You grew up in Hawaii, was Pony Club the main horse outlet on the island?
Brock: No, but it we had a big club and nearly every kid that rode English was in Pony Club at one point or another.

Do you still use the Pony Club manuals?
Brock: No but maybe I should! I am sure I still have mine at my parent’s home.

What is your favorite Pony Club memory?
Brock: We would have an annual Pony Club camp either at Mokuleia or in Kamuela on the Big Island. They were usually a long weekend and so so fun!!! We always had jumping, dressage, and cross country lessons as well as lectures and it was just really fun!! I’ll never forget cantering thru the mountains in Kamuela as a group. It was really special.

How important is your Pony Club background to your dressage career and your success today?
Brock: I think it definitely started me off on a disciplined, organized and educated path. It gave me a structure to my riding and horsemanship that is such a key backbone to becoming a successful international competitor.

You were a groom for Olympian Sue Blinks (D, Ponkapoag Pony Club) do you think your Pony Club skills were more useful as a groom or rider? Why?
Brock: I think they are equally important for both grooms and riders. Both have to be extremely detail oriented and structured.

One of you coaches, Michael Barisone (H-A, Mendon Pony Club), is also a Pony Club graduate; is it a coincidence that you have so many fellow Pony Club graduate in your career?
Brock: Probably not!!! I think many top professionals probably got a big chunk of their early education in Pony Club.

Who was your equestrian idol growing up?
Brock: I had a few; but Reiner Klimke, Isabel Werth, and Kyra Kyrklund were especially important to me!

Has the Olympics always been your goal?
Brock: The Olympics have certainly a goal, but my first goals have always been to learn to train and compete International Grand Prix horses to a level over 70%. I think going to the Olympics is a natural by-product of the original goals, and having the timing right with the right horse.

What does it feel like to be named to your first Olympic Team?
Brock: It is incredible. It is such an honor to represent the US at any international event, but being an Olympian is a very special club.

What Pony Club lessons will you rely on during the Olympics?

Brock: Be prepared for everything!! Pack accordingly and pay attention to detail!! Create and follow a plan for the daily care and training!!

What is the one thing you are most looking forward to doing at the Games?
Brock: Going down centerline for sure and the Opening Ceremony. I have been told that we will get to participate in it.

Do you have a pre-ride ritual or routine?
Brock: Absolutely. Please keep in mind that I have a groom to braid and clean Rosie, so I am leaving those parts out. Two hours from getting on to warm up I will visualize my test repeatedly so that I see an ideal real time “movie” in my head. I usually also watch a top GP test online as well. After that, I get dressed and tack the horse out in a precisely timed out order down to the last minute before I leave the barn. I set all my clothes out and get dressed in my whites about an hour from getting on. 30 mins out I will put my hair up, my stock tie on, and my riding boots. I put the saddle on 20 mins out. Rosie gets at least 3 handfuls of Gumbits before I put the bridle on 10 mins out. Then I hand him over to my groom who holds him while I put my shadbelly, radio, helmet, and gloves on. I never rush. I try to do everything very calmly and slowly so that he isn’t worried. I always try to not leave the barn before the exact time I decided on. Rosie is cold backed and needs to be walked a bit before I get on him so I make sure I always do that for a couple of minutes and then back him up at least 5-10 steps before I get on him. We have a very set routine!

What are you most looking forward to on this OG journey?
Brock: Spending time with the group of outstanding horses and riders we have this year. They inspire me to ride better, try harder, and keep pushing myself to improve – for me and for them. I feel so lucky to be part of this group! GO TEAM USA!

Looking ahead, do you think there is a need to increase the Pony Club connection with Olympic pipeline youth today?
Brock: Yes! I think would be a major educational stepping stone for kids and maybe we need to open more channels so that the kids have access to Olympic riders.

Any advice for current Pony Club members?
Brock: Take advantage of any opportunity Pony Club can offer you!!

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