By Amber Heintzberger
Aboard her striking black Danish Warmblood gelding Goerklingaards Dublet, Kasey Perry-Glass has done the USA proud: in addition to participating in many Nations Cups for Old Glory, the pair was instrumental in clinching the team bronze medal in Rio in 2016. Now, they’ll ride once again for the red, white, and blue as part of the United States Dressage team at the FEI World Equestrian Games in just a few short weeks.
So how is the California girl preparing to ride down the centerline at Tryon? With just days to go before the Games begin, Kasey and Dublet are partaking in trendy fitness programs (Orangetheory for her and the Aquatred for him), listening to strong lady anthems, and simply enjoying the ride.
When the pair returned to Wellington, Fla. after Aachen, Kasey gave Dublet a week and a half to decompress, be turned out and have time off after his extensive summer competition schedule. “Right now we have been getting his condition back, taking things slow because we have a couple of weeks until the WEG,” she says. “He knows all his ‘tricks’, so we want to cover everything from the ground up – with him it’s important not to overwork the movements, but to keep him good in his head and focus on the connection and thoroughness.”
To maintain Dublet’s fitness without adding wear and tear, he’s been pounding the (underwater) pavement. “I do a lot of Aquatred with him. There’s a misconception that it’s only for horses that are injured, but for him, he needs the extra fitness, and he’s not a horse I can go out and hand walk in the afternoon,” shares Kasey. “The Aquatred helps keep him fit and stretch through his body, so he’s doing that three times a week now and when he’s in full work, he’ll do that twice a week. It also gets him fit without me on his back. My vet looked at me a little weird when I suggested it but I really wanted to try it. The water is super cold so it’s also a good icing tool; his legs are nice and tight when he comes out. I love it.”
Kasey acknowledges that the water treadmill might not be right for every horse. “I think you have to experiment a little with it. Dublet—the poor guy— can get fat. He’s not a hard keeper at all!” she laughs. “He really enjoys the Aquatred, though, and he will do anything to get a banana afterward. Every time he does therapy, he gets a banana afterward. He really loves them.” Above all, Kasey wants Dublet’s workouts to be positive experiences. “He’s so lazy, and I don’t want to chase him around with a whip! Anything I do with him, I want to be pleasant.”
When it comes to her own exercise plan, Kasey has done almost everything possible to keep herself fit, including running marathons and half marathons, cross-fit, and all the latest fitness trends.
“It started with wanting to lose weight and I just fell in love with moving,” Kasey says. "I switch it up: I do Orangetheory one or two days a week, I’ll go to the gym and do some weight training or cardio, and I do a form of Pilates called Lagree – it’s amazing! I took Adrienne [Lyle] for the first time last week. It’s an upbeat atmosphere, but focuses on your core and butt and legs and really stretches you out and keeps you lean and toned, with a little bit of cardio, too. I think it’s perfect for riders and I knew she’d love it.”
"Anything I do with him, I want to be pleasant.”
Of course, barn work is no easy task, so Kasey has had to adjust her workout plan according to her riding load. “When I did crossfit I got really bulky. We work so hard at the barn, so we didn’t want to kill ourselves at the gym. I can handle Orange Theory a few times a week but I’m already tired from working in the barn!”
Though she likes to eat out and has a penchant for indulgences, Kasey also tries to eat as healthy as possible. “I try to limit [unhealthy food] but I don’t restrict myself,” she says. “My favorite place is Texas Roadhouse. I love their bread! So, I might have two meals a week that are something I want and crave, and the rest of the week I try to eat healthy foods and be mindful of what I eat,” she says about balancing her diet. “I started counting macros and when I started doing that, even if I wasn’t weighing my food, I started to notice how much fat or calories are in something. It made me more aware, which is good, but I do love food so I make sure I keep eating things I want to eat.”
With all that time spent workin’ on her fitness a la Fergie, Kasey has developed a workout mix playlist that mainly includes songs that are confidence-boosting, upbeat and positive. “I’m not into stuff like the Rocky theme song, but I like music that makes me feel confident. A couple that I enjoy are Get Back Up Again from the Trolls movie soundtrack because it’s like Fight Song [by Rachel Platten]. It makes you feel good,” she shares. “My journey with Dublet has not been easy and that song makes you want to get up again. How Far I’ll Go from Moana is another good one, and [so is] the Olympic Rise song from Katy Perry. Meghan Trainor’s music is strong and fun to get pumped up to – I love that. I listen to lots of Meghan Trainor and Taylor Swift.”
Those tunes also help ease Kasey into the competition mindset. A self-dubbed overthinker, the one thing that helps her the most is trying to block out any negativity before walking into the ring. “My dad’s a psychologist and has helped me through a lot of things, but when I tried sports psychology, it made me think too hard about things. I just can’t do it,” she says. Instead, Kasey tries to keep her mood as positive as possible: “I try to be lighthearted. I really don’t do well being super serious because it makes me try too hard and then I get tense and have bad rides.”
"...I like music that makes me feel confident."
In addition to packing her trusty Equipe saddle, Kasey will take a couple special items to Tryon. Though she’s not big on good luck charms, the unicorn rubber ducky gifted from her mom and sister at Rotterdam has made the cut. “My mom gave me one of those furry good-luck things a while ago and I did really badly at that show, so I was like, “‘Throw it away!’” she recalls. “But the rubber ducky can stay. I also have a portrait that my niece did at Rio of Dublet and me with the American flag, and I’ll take it in my tack trunk. That’s about it.”
Above all, Kasey and Dublet are just trying to soak in every moment of the World Equestrian Games. “I got really lucky to have a top horse like him that doesn’t have a mean bone in his body,” she says about her partner. “He travels well, [and] he’s a good babysitter for any horse having a hard time. He’s a very loving horse and loves attention.”
As the clock ticks ever closer to the opening ceremonies, Kasey is trying to keep her upbeat attitude. “A lot of people think if you’re joking around or laughing you’re not serious, but I take every team and event seriously. There’s also a line you have to draw and not joke around all the time, but I’ve got to be happy and have fun, too.”
Photos by Shannon Brinkman.