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Fri, 2015-01-09 10:32

From Racecourse to Rolex in Record Time

Authored By: Katie Andraski
Leah and AP Prime at the 2014 CHC International. USEA/Leslie Threlkeld Photo.

His thoroughbred bloodlines were excellent, but his days in the winners’ circle were long over. So how did a tapped-out fairgrounds racehorse in southern Illinois, bought for just $750, end up qualifying for the Rolex just two seasons later? It all comes down to his owner and rider, Leah Lang-Gluscic.

“When I walked in to the barn where AP Prime was stabled, I noticed him before they even pointed him out,” says Leah, an Advanced-level event rider and owner of LLG Eventing. “He has the most gorgeous eye and face and you really can't help but respond to his self-awareness.  I just remember thinking to myself, ‘Well it's not likely they will pull out the most gorgeous horse in the barn,’ but they did!”

When Leah met this grandson of racing great AP Indy, she was on her way to Tennessee to buy a trailer and was looking at prospect horses along the way. When she pulled into the nondescript fairgrounds in Martinsville, Illinois to look at a racehorse at the end of his career, she had no idea she would find a talented athlete that would become her first three-star horse. AP Prime’s owners wanted $2,000 for him but that was too much without a vetting. Leah was surprised when they accepted her $750 offer, and she picked him up the next day.     

“We brought him home and he immediately took to the work. He enjoyed jumping small jumps to the point that he dragged me to the mounting block and jumped over it. I knew then he would be an event horse. Skinnies would be no problem.

“Over the next year I moved him up as things got easy. He did one beginner novice, two or three novices, and six trainings, never noticing the difference between those levels. He moved up to preliminary level the next year and that was incredibly easy for him. He moved to intermediate a year and two months after he began his eventing career.

“We spent the next year establishing his career at that level. He was one of five horses at Richland to make time out of 54. At Fair Hill he was one of ten horses out of 80 to go double clear when half the division got eliminated or withdrew or had mandatory retirements. At that point he proved he was an upper level horse.

“He moved up to advanced this past spring and that too was effortless for him. He doesn’t notice the difference between the levels other than the fact that it’s just more fun. When we made that move up and it was so easy for him, Rolex became a very strong possibility. AP makes advanced feel the way most horses make training level feel. He is brave, thoughtful, and has an incredible sense of determination as well as self-preservation out there. Sitting on his back in cross-country is like being home.”

Success at this level is the result of the right nutrition, the right training—and the right saddle. Leah describes the excellent care she gives AP, from extensive vet exams twice yearly to joint supplements and probiotics. “Because of what I expect of him, everything within his program and my training system has to be top of the line. When he came off of Bromont, and he was tight in his withers and shoulders, I knew I had to change saddles.             

“When I researched different saddles, County was the only one that talked about providing freedom for his shoulder. The difference isn’t so much when I’m in the saddle, but when I’m putting my horse away after a jump lesson and I run my hands across a part of his body that has been dealing with chronic pain for almost a year, and now he doesn’t even flinch. And this was only riding him in a County for a little less than a month.

As far as being an Olympic hopeful, Leah says, “I’m sure everyone can relate to wanting to represent their country in the highest level of competition as well as come together to celebrate incredible achievements across so many sports. For me it would be a dream come true.” 

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