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Now Appearing Center Stage...Sally Gallagher

by Bob Funkhouser

How fitting that at a horse show where exposure and great publicity for the American Saddlebred to the general public is a premium, that a wonderful story emerges with the old adage, “It’s never too late to start.”

It’s one of those modern day stories in which two already made families are joined and horses are the centerpiece. Successful businessman/pilot/sports car enthusiast Nick Grewal and his two children, Kerri and Cory, joined with Sally Gallagher and her horse crazy daughter Lea Emery to make one big happy family. Wanting to share the horse interest, Grewal purchased Callaway’s Rhapsody In Blue, a.k.a. Callie, for the children to ride, but with all of their other interests and activities none of them had time to show her this year.

“They [Michael and Lisa Richardson] told me a couple of months ago that I better start practicing that someone was going to show her,” said Sally. “I had never ridden a gaited horse, I’m just a trail rider.”

The Grewal/Gallagher family has four horses at home in Sandborton, N.H., three Saddlebreds and one Morgan, to pleasure ride. Sally always wanted a horse as a child but never had the opportunity so when her daughter Lea showed interest they started in the Morgan business.

“We started with Bonnie Sogoloff and Pixel Acres with the Morgans and enjoyed it, but it seemed that the traits they were looking for in the Morgans, the Saddlebreds had,” explained Sally. “We switched to Saddlebreds and have loved them. When they [the Richardsons] first asked me about showing “Callie” I said, ‘Oh gosh, I’ll try it.’ Then when I did ride her for the first time, I thought, ‘Oh my God, what did I do.’ I had never felt so much power before. She is absolutely the most wonderful mare. We are so blessed to have a horse with such power and ability and yet be so kind.”

Riding Callie for the fifth time, Sally entered the ring in front of a large crowd at the Big E and won the Amateur Five-Gaited qualifier. “I said to David [Cater], ‘What do I do now?’ when they called out my name,” said Sally. “I was so shocked. I don’t really like being on center stage, that’s my daughter’s thing. I just wanted to make it through with a smile on my face. That was my goal.

“Back in the championship they told me I had to ride harder. They said, ‘Ride like you’re at home,’ so that’s what I did. I couldn’t tell you how I did, but we won again.”

With two experiences like that the children might have a hard time getting back in the saddle. Mom is feeling much more comfortable now. And what does thrill seeker Nick think about Sally’s newfound love? “He can’t wait to see Louisville next year. I think we’ve started something," added Sally.

“They are just great people,” said Lisa Richardson. “This mare is so wonderful for them and Sally has done a great job in a short period of time. It’s a lot of fun to see something like this come together.”

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