Kerrigan Gluch Prepares for the USEF Dressage Young Rider European Tour with Vaquero HGF

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kerrigan Gluch and Vaquero HGF Photo: Lily Forado

Nineteen-year-old dressage rider Kerrigan Gluch, having qualified as a United States team member to compete in the upcoming summer USEF Dressage Young Rider European Tour, prepares for the top competitions with Hampton Green Farm’s Vaquero HGF, 9-year-old by Cuatrero IV x Encina HGF (Idilio II) a PRE (pure Spanish) stallion.

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) announced the athlete-and-horse combinations who will be participating in the USEF Dressage Young Rider European Tour’s two European competitions, CDI-Y Compiegne (FRA) - May 19-22, and CDIO-Y Hagen (GER) - June 7-12, 2016. As part of the Tour, Kerrigan, along with two others, will gain valuable experience competing against top European Young Riders.

The Beginnings

It was only four years ago at the age of fifteen that Kerrigan participated in the very first Emerging Dressage Athlete Program's Robert Dover HorseMastership Week in Wellington. Because winter temperatures in Florida and Michigan greatly differ, Kerrigan left her horse behind feeling that taking it from freezing temperatures to warmer temperatures and then back again to frigid temperatures just two weeks later would be too much. Kimberly Boyer, owner of Hampton Green Farm’s PRE breeding and two training facilities generously provided one of the farm’s schoolmasters with HG Camaron IX for Kerrigan to ride during the educational event.

Impressed with the youngster’s riding abilities and how quickly she adapted to an unfamiliar horse, Kim offered Kerrigan an opportunity to learn at her Hampton Green Farm northern location in Fruitport, Michigan for the summer near the young teen’s home. With permission from her parents, Kerrigan spent the summer there and she and Kim quickly forged a mutually respectful working relationship. In a very short time, the young Kerrigan began to prepare several of the Hampton Green Farm’s horses for the next Florida winter season and returned with the Boyers to their southern Hampton Green Farm location in Wellington. Her mother, a schoolteacher, set Kerrigan up to complete her schoolwork on the internet through the Michigan online school system, and Kerrigan set in motion her dressage training for the competitive arena.Kerrigan Gluch and Vaquero HGF Photo: SusanJStickle

Kerrigan has been slowly and steadily climbing the dressage levels on Kim Boyer’s various horses. One horse on which she is preparing a great future with is Vaquero HGF, born and raised at the Hampton Green Farm in Michigan; Vaquero’s sire (Cuatrero IV) is a half-brother to Grandioso III, Kim’s international Grand Pix and Olympic horse. Originally, Vaquero was selected by Courtney King-Dye as a 3-year-old to be her next up-and-coming mount to develop, but Vaquero was instead sent as 3½-year-old to Spain to Jose Daniel (“Dani”) Martin Dockx for training after Courtney’s unfortunate accident.

Dani and the gifted horse qualified and competed in the young horse divisions at the 2012 and 2013 Spanish National Championships for FEI 5 and 6-year-olds (Vaquero was the first American-bred horse ever entered in a Spanish competition). Vaquero continued to remain the top ranked PRE in Spain at the FEI level for his age for the next few years.  

Robert Dover soon convinced Kim to keep one of her top PRE pure Spanish horses in the United States to influence growth in the breed. Because Dani loved Vaquero and had hopes for its future, the decision to move the horse to the U.S. was a very difficult one for Kim (her top horse Grandioso will always remain with Dani). Although she firmly believes PRE horses are scored more respectfully in Europe, Kim is promoting the American-bred PRE line through the U.S. PRE Association. It is her strategy to show a talented Spanish horse with very good gaits (Vaquero HGF) as he rapidly climbs the levels through the Young Rider divisions.

Before Vaquero was relocated to the U.S., Kerrigan spent the summer of 2014 in Spain to work with Dani and make a smooth transition for the stallion. Dani set them both up for success and only a month or so later, due to the long quarantine for the stallions, Dani traveled early to Florida to compete in the 2015 Adequan Global Dressage Festival with Grandioso and also brought several of Kim’s other horses along with him.

Another horse Dani brought with him was HGF Brio, which Kim bought when she saw distinct qualities in the young Grand Prix stallion at a small countryside farm in the south of Spain trained by a wonderful promising rider for Spain. The now 11-year-old Brio competed in one national competition in which Kim saw a video and knew he had a gifted talent and a huge heart. Because he in on the small side and very green, she felt he would be a good horse for the future. Dani worked with the horse for several months in preparation for his trip to Florida and it was decided that Brio would be a good U25 horse for developing to Grand Prix.Kerrigan Gluch and HGF Brio Photo: Dressage Headlines

During that 2015 winter AGDF season in which Dani competed, Dani stayed at the Hampton Green Farm’s Wellington location and Kerrigan worked closely with him on Vaquero and soon Brio in preparation for young rider competitions and the U25 Grand Prix. “I took full advantage with both Vaquero and Brio in working with Dani to understand his training system,” she readily and gratefully admitted. “Both horses are amazing. As a rider, I have learned to ride with a lot of patience. I am so thankful to Dani.”

At the end of the 2015 winter season after Dani returned to Spain, Kerrigan began to train with the renowned trainer Oded Shimoni. Trailering 5 days a week for less than 5 minutes from Kim’s Wellington Farm to Oded’s farm, Kerrigan’s routine consists of working with one stallion starting at 8:00 a.m. and with the other a few hours later in the day.

Kerrigan has also received tips from Lendon Gray during her annual Dressage4Kids Winter Intensive Training Program (WIT) held each year at Hampton Green Farm, January through March. An integral part of Kerrigan's growth as a young rider early in her development; Lendon’s positive feedback has always been a great asset for Kerrigan. 

Kerrigan’s Scores and Rankings

Kerrigan Gluch and HGF Brio Photo: Dressage Headlines

During the summer of 2015, success came quickly for Kerrigan and Vaquero HGF at the USEF Festival of Champions Young Rider Reserve Champions at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois. In July, they scored well in both the Team test and the Individual test and the pair competed at NAJYRC in Kentucky to place 5th individually overall scoring 67.368% and were also bronze medalists in the Young Rider Freestyle division scoring 69.050%.

This year in the FEI YR Young Riders PSG Team Test of week #8 at the Palm Beach Derby, Kerrigan and Vaquero HGF placed second with a score 67.053% and second with a 68.202% in the FEI Young Riders Individual Test. During the International Florida Youth Championships Kerrigan placed 5th overall from all the youth divisions including Pony, Junior, Young Rider, and Under 25 Grand Prix with Vaquero HGF.

Preparing with Vaquero and Brio

Kerrigan described Oded’s coaching method, “He’s always thinking on the basics. How effective I can be. At the beginning of last summer, we pulled everything apart and started all over again. We picked apart the full pirouettes and I had to relearn step-by-step how to ride them the way Oded learned and trained. It’s also been a combination of my learning to communicate well with each horse and the basic biomechanics of each movement. I understand that each horse has a different personality and that they both move differently. Oded’s taught me how to ride every single stride or step. It really can be done. I’ve had a lot of lightbulb moments and now I know what to do.”Kerrigan Gluch and HGF Brio Photo: Dressage Headlines

“I rode in the Young Rider tests last year and will continue with Vaquero in Europe, but it’s been a big jump in learning the U25 Grand Prix on Brio,” Kerrigan disclosed. “I have to say that I lost confidence at one point jumping from the small tour to the large tour tests because I had to relearn how to ride again. I needed to learn to ride more effectively and to know that I could make it in the Grand Prix ring.”

She continued, “It’s a whole different process for the Grand Prix test. It’s all high collection, learning the transitions, the tempi changes, and more. You need to have your horse so much more with you for it to work. Especially with a Spanish horse because rhythm is something I have to think about all the time. A Spanish horse can choose to have 5 different trots, 5 different passages and finding that right one in the ring is something I’m learning how to do really well.”

“With Brio this past winter season, we really waited. I was very new at it and he’s the type of horse that will go and go until I ask him to stop. He’s always that way, so we decided to do quite a few U25 Tests in the national shows so I could work well with his mind and really get him on my side. He’s amazing, such a joy.”Kerrigan Gluch and HGF Brio Photo: Dressage Headlines

Working with Vaquero is a different story, “He likes to work and likes a constructive, consistent schedule. You have to convince his mind, but in his body he has an ease of adjustability, bend and balance. It’s all about wanting to go into the ring to set him up for success. If I’m not 100% confident in the both of us, it’s really not right. But, we’ve built a great relationship over the last two years and I plan out his warm-ups a few days in advance to get him game-perfect.”

HGF Brio will be staying home with Oded during the short five- week Young Rider European Tour, allowing Kerrigan to focus on Vaquero HGF for the weeks ahead and, after they return, to begin preparing Vaquero for the Under 25 Grand Prix. This summer and next winter season, she will have two young and gifted Under 25 Grand Prix horses to compete for high scores on top PRE, pure Spanish horses.

The Michigan Farm’s Many Horses

Fascinated with top PRE breeding lines, Kerrigan has seen the well-defined characteristics of the different lines that Kim Boyer has on her farm, lines that have produced Olympic horse Grandioso and horses with a great temperament whose movements are ready for the dressage arena. “Horses like Vaquero and Grandioso are so nice to work with and to be around. You can see a lot of similarities in their lines. I’ve learned that they’ll try their absolute best. It’s really cool they’re so similar.”

Grateful, Kerrigan’s appreciation continues, “If it weren’t for Kim, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I’m so thankful.”

Kerrigan Gluch and Vaquero HGF Photo: Lily Forado

Kerrigan Gluch and Vaquero HGF Reserve Champions at the 2015 USEF Festival of Champions Photo: Hampton Green Farm

Vaquero HGF, Kerrigan Gluch and Kim Boyer at the USEF Festival of Champions Photo: Hampton Green Farm