It’s said that good things come in small packages.

In Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet’s case, it’s a small, speedy, often opinionated package.

“She’s super hot, super fiery,” said world #75 Karl Cook (USA). “We would say like a gamer. She gets the game and she loves doing it—sometimes too much where she leaps in the air and it’s a bit wild. But you know, she just understands the point of the game and it makes it so much fun to ride.”

Previously campaigned by Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca up to the 1.40m level, Cook took over the ride in 2019. Save two 3* shows in California, the pair were absent from the international ring until 2021. They’ve been posting a steady stream of clear rounds since.

The California native and Belgian Warmblood mare (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Goldfee van’t Zorgvliet) have jumped clear—and to top 10 finishes—in 14 of their 15 FEI appearances since August, ending the year with a 2* Grand Prix win at Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, CA.

They’re riding that phenomenal streak in 2022, too. The speedy pair took the victory in the $40,000 Go Rentals Grand Prix, the feature class of Week I of the Desert Circuit, on Saturday. Twenty-nine combinations contested Ken Krome’s 1.50m course. Six found clear paths around the 16 effort track to qualify for the jump off.

Brazil’s Cassio Rivetti and Cristal de Menardiere were the first and ultimately only other pair to post a double clear, stopping the clock at 41.288 seconds. Canada’s Lisa Carlsen and Livestream 2 caught their time (40.292s) but also a rail to be relegated to third. Last to return, Cook and Katinka were the only combination to cross the timers under the 40 second mark. They clocked the course in 39.981—all while adding strides.

Listen to Cook’s take on the ride:

If Cook’s resident energizer bunny looks like a handful in the ring, she’s a different horse in the stable.  

“In the barn, she’s very sweet and easy and calm, and everything in the barn is super easy. When you go to ride her, she’s very hot. Some days, like earlier this week, I flatted her for an hour straight and she was still pulling and bucking,” he shared.

“You know, it’s just so much energy that you just have to stay on top of it so it doesn’t get out of hand.”

Not out of hand is her height. “Technically, she’s 16.1,” said Cook. “But when you are next to her it’s more like 15.3 at most. She is very small.”

Look for Cook and Kalinka in next week’s international division at Desert Horse Park where they’ll be looking to improve their skills and their record.

“I’m just hoping to continue what was going well here this week to next week,” he continued. “There were a couple issues in the first round, particularly towards the end, where my riding was not as accurate as it needs to be. And so I need to, you know, fix those those issues so that it I give her an easier job.”