We hear all the time about horses at the top of the sport, but what about the next generation of equine talent? EN’s Got Talent introduces the future superstars of the sport, interviewing riders about how they’re tackling training with these youngsters. Have you spotted a spectacular young horse at an event you think should be highlighted in this column? Tip me at [email protected]
Transitioning from one discipline to another is no easy task, but Michigan-based eventer Jennifer Gallas credits her cross training between show jumping and eventing with a lot of her confidence and education. A former hunter/jumper rider who still plays in the big jumper ring, Jennifer is now making strides through the eventing levels with E’Lupicor, a coming 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding she’s owned since he was 10 months old.
It was a journey of fate for Jennifer, who acquired a 10-month-old “Louie” as a stud colt. “The feed store had called and begged me to take this stud colt who was at their family’s farm,” Jennifer recalled. “They had bought him as an investment show jumper. I couldn’t stand him because he almost ripped my trailer apart on the ride home.”
Sadly, Louie’s owner passed away suddenly, and it was Jenifer who decided to keep the horse. “There was just something special about him,” she said. “He definitely wasn’t easy but he was special.”
E’Lupicor is a Dutch Warmblood by Lupicor H out of Geneva KS. As he grew up, Jennifer gradually made the switch over to eventing, and she tapped Louie as her project to bring up the levels when he came of age.
“I wanted him to event,” she said. “He was bred for show jumping and I grew up show jumping so that is definitely both of our strength.”
Keeping Louie a stallion while he was young presented its own set of challenges. “I kept him a stallion for five years, and he was extremely difficult. I never left the barn without lavender of Vick’s Vapor Rub! He was a handful — if you weren’t careful, he’d break away and take off, but he was just so talented and such a good jumper.”
Starting their eventing career together in 2015, Jennifer and Louie competed at their Florida home base, Rocking Horse, at the Novice level, finishing in fourth place. “He was a bit more timid about cross country starting out,” Jennifer said. “I just kept taking him out schooling until it wasn’t a big deal anymore.”
From there, Jennifer and Louie began to hit their stride, completing three Training level events before making their debut at Prelim at Rocking Horse Winter III in March.
“Moving up to Prelim was my goal for Florida this year,” she said. “The dressage was ok, I know we can do better as we continue to get stronger. Show jumping was strong as usual and I think our best round of the winter. On cross country, he was very brave and forward the whole time — I cried a little when I crossed the finish line.”
Living in Michgan isn’t the most eventer-friendly home base, but Jennifer does what she can to get herself out competing and getting miles. She plans to continue to compete Louie in the show jumping ring too — in fact just today she sent off her stall reservation to contest her first Grand Prix in July.
As for her talented horse, Jennifer is grateful to have the opportunity to ride him. “It’s definitely been a difficult road — patience is a huge virtue in this sport, I’ve learned,” she said. “But the education I’m receiving out of this is the most beneficial thing that’s happened in my riding career.
Jennifer plans to aim for events in Kentucky as well as Richland Park this year, both events that require a fairly long distance haul. “Sometimes it’s hard to get places — to school or compete — but sometimes you just have to go the extra mile and put the extra hours in to reach your goals.”
In the meantime, Jennifer would like to eventually do her first one-star on Louie and is grateful for the opportunity that presented itself all those years ago, even in the most unfortunate of circumstances. “This is the first horse I’ve produced from scratch,” she said. “He hasn’t been easy, but he’s definitely worth all of it and more.”