Monty Roberts has said that “a good trainer can hear a horse speak to him, and a great trainer can hear him whisper.”
Cory Rumsey is a third generation horseman, and as a child spent a lot of time on the backstretch at Whoop Up Downs, which is now Rocky Mountain Turf Club. He has fond memories of tearing around the barn area with playmate (and now fellow trainer) Ryan McLean pretending to be jockeys on their bicycles, urging them on and whipping them home. It’s a pretty good place for kids to play, because there is a big community of people who keep the kids entertained and out of trouble. It’s also a pretty good place for an adult to rediscover a love of horses and stay entertained and out of trouble!
His grandparents Kathleen and Dave Rumsey, his dad Rex and Aunt Gail all worked as trainers, and Cory worked as a groom at Stampede Park, but he didn’t stay on the backstretch. Although he didn’t choose racing as his initial career, Cory owned a few racehorses off and on with different trainers. After being laid off twice in a row in 2014 and 2015 Cory decided to come back to the track last summer, and get back to his horse roots. He’d made a profit with a horse he owned and sold, and thought he’d try his hand at training if he found the right horse. As it turns out, the right horse found him.
Brudda Clyde (by Political Force, out of Flying Kitty) is a 7 year old bay gelding who’s seen a lot in his few years at the races. He was raised in Virginia, sold in Kentucky as a yearling, and raced at Emerald Downs, Golden Gate, Betfair Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, Turf Paradise and Portland Meadows before he made the long way north to Rocky Mountain Turf Club at Lethbridge and even further north to Evergreen Park at Grande Prairie for the meet last summer. Brudda’s race chart shows that while he might not always win, he always tries and like a lot of older geldings who give their all on the track, his legs show some wear and tear. Cory had been watching for a horse to claim and he liked Brudda despite the knotty ankles. He watched race replays from Emerald Downs and decided to take chance on the old gelding, which went against all the advice he’d been getting from other horsemen. When he dropped the claim and had to pick Brudda up after the race it hit Cory that he now actually owned his own race horse, and he decided he’d better get some tack and equipment pronto!
Cory and Brudda have a special connection. In many race barns there are a lot of horses, and a limited number of hours in the day to get all of the work done, but Cory owns and trains one horse. Brudda therefore gets a lot of tender loving care and attention. With big, kind eyes and a very gentle demeanor Brudda is a giant pet, and follows Cory from the walker to the barn without a lead rope, eats crunchies from Cory’s nephew’s bunched up fingers, and occasionally stops himself on the hot walker to take a moment to look around and enjoy life. He’s got the heart of a warrior though, and he’s all business when he watches horses go by to the track or when it’s time to go to work.
Brudda Clyde has found his niche with Cory. Brudda came off of his $2,000 claiming race with a sore foot from a thrown shoe and Cory worked hard to get him ready to race. When Brudda came back to the races after three weeks off, he was sound, happy and healthy and he went from claiming ranks to allowance to two Stakes wins. But more importantly, Cory had remembered his childhood lessons about leg work, was learning valuable skills to be a trainer and was forming a powerful bond with the big gelding. In eight starts the two of them won six races and had a second and a third and earned $17,541 in 2015 (Equibase chart is in U.S. dollars). Eight starts, six wins, a second and a third is an amazing record for any horse during the race season, and Brudda and Cory grew in confidence together.
Cory’s biggest thrill was the Peace Country Stakes at Evergreen Park on August 30. Brudda was in tough company and Cory was so nervous he had to take himself far away from the family and friends who had gathered for his first Stakes race as a trainer. Brudda popped from the gate, went straight to the lead, was ahead at every call during the race and jockey Blandford Stewart never looked back. Although heavy favourite Bobby Handy was charging hard to the wire, Brudda held on for the win. By all accounts, Cory raised the roof off the grandstand with his loud ‘encouragement’ and subsequent jubilation (in his defense, he truly believes that Brudda was listening to him!) and when he realized they won he had to make his way through a gauntlet of well-wishers. First in line was Tom Rycroft, who owns Bobby Handy which shows the solidarity and community on the circuit – competitors are also friends and everyone loved seeing Cory and Brudda in the winner’s circle.
Brudda seems to love his life. When he nickers Cory rushes to take him off the walker. When he sputters a little in his stall Cory goes to check him. When he wants to take it easy, he gets to take it easy, and when he perks his ears and takes the bit he gets to fly down the track. He’s bathed and brushed and coddled and his legs are iced and bandaged and all of the patience and care has paid off. Not only is he a very happy horse, but he was awarded High Point Male and 2015 Horse of the Year at the Alberta Community Thoroughbred Racing Association awards. Cory owns and trains one horse, and his one horse was Horse of the Year. Some people wait a lifetime for that honour and he achieved it in his first year! Cory and Brudda won a Roy Lehner custom racing bridle, an embroidered cooler and a trophy for their Horse of the Year prizes and Cory was deeply touched to win the bridle. His grandmother and Roy were friends, with Roy and his wife Deanna helping her out a time or two or three with her horses. Cory remembers spending many hours in the Lehner tackroom helping Roy with his leatherwork and painstakingly soldering holes for the grommets in his bridles and halters. It brought him full circle to his childhood on the backstretch. When Brudda steps onto the track in 2016 he’ll be wearing his own custom Roy Lehner bridle, and grandma Kathleen will be looking down from heaven with a smile.
Cory is training Brudda for the 2016 season at Rocky Mountain Turf Club, but already has retirement plans for him. Because of his quiet temperament and easy going attitude when Brudda tells Cory it’s time to retire he will go to the Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Centre at Lethbridge and will spend his days being a therapy horse to enhance the lives of children with disabilities. At Rainbow, he will continue to receive the attention and care to which he has become accustomed! Brudda Clyde doesn’t need to speak for Cory Rumsey to know what he’s saying, the two of them have a special relationship. They can both hear each other whisper.