Conor Swail (IRL) only actually owns a home in Florida, but he seems more at home in Thermal than anywhere. The Irishman took another major victory Saturday in the $117,000 Kubota CSI3* Grand Prix aboard Count Me In, one of his fabulous string of extremely consistent top contenders.

In their third year together, Swail can recount some of the best moments of his career with 17-year-old “Crosby,” but he knows he’s still got an incredible partner on his hands with quite a bit to go.

Three riders on a podium.

Ali Ramsay (CAN), Conor Swail (IRL) and Peter Petschenig (AUT) on the podium after the $117,000 Kubota CSI3* Grand Prix. (High Desert Sport Photo)

“He has been an incredible horse for me,” Swail said of the Hanoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes). “He’s the best horse I’ve ridden. Two years ago he took me to places [I’ve never gone]; we did Aachen, the World Cup Finals, if I’d had one less [rail] down I would’ve been on the podium. The Aga Khan – that was the best, jumping day of my career, so the horse has just been amazing for me.”

And he’s still amazing. In Saturday’s class, the pair was one of seven to jump clear over Joey Rycroft’s course, and they had the pole position of jumping off last. Ali Ramsay (CAN) took over the lead just prior with Conrado 12, owned by Ramsay Equestrian, Inc., but Swail had just enough gas in the tank to edge her out of first place. With Swail atop the podium, Ramsay took second, and Peter Petschenig (AUT) took third aboard Ennebel Van Het Posthuijs.

Swail cranks out wins everywhere he goes, but he’s insanely in tune with his horses, noticing when they’re not themselves, even if the results are still stellar.

“Last year he had a little bit of a dip in form there,” Swail said of Crosby’s performance. “I think he was struggling a little bit mentally. Now the last few starts with him, he won the four-star in Vegas, had one down in the five-star here in December, he won the four-star here and now he’s won three-star. I think that’s his last four grand prixs, so three out of four wins is not bad.”

Swail sees it as “not bad” while many others look at his resume and are speechless. But for Swail, it’s less about the results than it is about keeping his horses comfortable and happy.

“I am trying to mind him a little bit now; he’s 17 and I don’t know how much I want to push him to do all the five-star shows,” Swail said of letting Crosby dictate the level he’s comfortable jumping. “I think if I can keep him comfortable here and winning these three- and four-stars, and maybe the odd bigger one here and there, that’s maybe better for him.

“Some days he jumps better than other days, but the scores are still the same. It’s still a win. He’s just that good. I’m just trying to keep him as happy as I can.”

As happy as the horse is, Swail admits he’s a little like a troll in the stable. “He’s very grumpy,” Swail said of Crosby’s behavior once tucked in. “Actually one of my girls calls him ‘Grumpy.’ If you go in his stall he is ears back, and he’s very grumpy, but when you take him out of the stall, he’s totally fine. He’s nice, kind and quiet.”

Swail has spent the past few seasons traversing between Thermal and Wellington, but this year he put all his eggs in one basket, and that basket stayed in California.

“I decided I’d come here and dedicate all my time this winter to Thermal,” he explained. “I thought it was a better decision for my horses as well and the footing is excellent here. The grass ring is amazing and we switch a little bit between here and the sand ring and both are excellent, world-class [arenas]. Everything is working very well. The horses are jumping great. It’s not just one horse; all my horses are in good form and it’s really paying off for me so it seems like a good decision.”

Swail, himself, has donned a lucky shamrock belt this week while jumping, but he admits he doesn’t have true superstitions that he’s aware of. But that doesn’t mean his team is without superstitions.

“JohnJoe, my [groom], we just changed our stirrups this week you know and I won the first day and he won’t change them,” Swail joked. “Whichever warm-up jump we use, if we go clear he wants the same jump. Actually he doesn’t like to change anything. If we’re clear wherever he was standing he’ll go stand in the same place. I don’t think I am superstitious but I suppose we all are a bit.”

Up next for Swail, he returns to CSI4* action, choosing two of his trio of winners that are still in the desert to join him.

Results here.