Aleco: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Anne: To follow my dreams.
Aleco: What would you say to an up-and-coming rider as the key to success?
Anne: The key to success, I would say, is to look for hard work. To look for work. Ask yourself, “How could I be better?” Honestly, whoever has gotten to the top in the horse world, rider, veterinarian, they never shy away from hard work. It’s, “What can I do to get something done?” It’s, “You know I am here. Put me to work.”
Aleco: Tell me, why do you like teaching clinics?
Anne: I love to teach, to give back to the sport. I’ve been very fortunate to have a fabulous career, great horses, great owners and the people that I’ve met through horses. All of the ups and downs that happen. But, to give back to the sport, because it has been so good to me, and along with the teaching, it’s very rewarding. It’s a short time to see people and horses change, and to really help the horses with their people.
Aleco: What are the three most important lessons that you emphasize to your students?
Anne: First of all, your position. If you can’t control your position, then have fun trying to control a horse. Your basic equitation. Why we do things. Especially when I’m teaching, to test everyone’s skills that way. So, position and awareness first. The other is to listen to the horse. It’s not a one-way conversation. So much about riding is about listening to the horse, and when you ask, and when you’re training, and when you’re wanting to get something done with them, make sure you listen. Are they really understanding it? Are your signals clear? Your aids and such? So that it’s not just a one-way conversation, it’s very important to listen to the horse. It’s hard work, but on the other hand, be open to learning. Be open and, as much as you can, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the work. Sometimes, I put people out of their comfort zone, when I’m teaching, on purpose, to learn something new and try something different. Be open to that, and at the end of the day, to try and embrace that as well.
Aleco: What do you wish you had known, at the beginning of your career?
Anne: It’s been an amazing journey. The one thing that I’d think I’d say is to enjoy it along the way. I was so driven to get better, to be better, and to get to the next Olympics, and how can I be better. I was going to the gym before going to the gym became what it is today. I was really so driven. Sometimes you’ve just got to enjoy the journey and enjoy all the places the horses take us. So that part of it. You have to have a good balance.
Aleco: In general, what do you wish more people paid attention to?
Anne: The well-being of the horse. You know we’re all in this, all the places horses take us, like people making money and businesses, whether its horse showing or professionals. Really the love of the horse, that’s why I really got into it, and to never forget the horse, or the animal, and giving back to the horse that way. Without the horse, we wouldn’t have a lot of the careers or medals around our necks and the places we’ve gone. So, to pay attention to the horse.
Aleco: If you could change one thing about the sport what would it be?
Anne: Somehow, the financial part of it and that it wasn’t so prevalent today. It is expensive and that’s just the way it is. It takes money to pay for horses. And that we don’t lose talented young riders. Maybe they don’t know how to get help to be a top rider. If there’s any way to change that so that it’s an equal playing field. And yet I think that’s very difficult. Even encouraging young riders, young professionals. To know your talent, even if they don’t have all the funds. You know, you make your own luck. You find the people. You get hungry and make it happen. In a sense, that might be the biggest thing.
Aleco: Please share what was the most memorable moment in your career?
Anne: Of all the wonderful things that have happened, it would be winning the grand prix in Aachen, Germany at the time with Starman. To win that. The mother of all grand prix classes, especially then. Today, it’s still the most famous. It’s the oldest and everyone wants to have won that. It’s one of those wins that you say, ‘Oh my gosh, I really did it.’ We did it and nailed it that day. So that part, I mean all kinds of wonderful things, but that, I have to say, is one of the special moments.
Aleco: How have you seen the sport evolve through your career?
Anne: The sport has evolved tremendously and it’s great, there are more people riding today, I think, than ever before, and the prize money. The money in the sport is fabulous. It really is huge that way. Growing up, I wished it would get more mainstream, and it certainly has. So, all of that is wonderful. I think the breeding of horses has improved. That’s a huge part of it. The riding has improved all across the world. The levels and the skill of riding has improved dramatically. I mean, it’s really huge improvements. With it becoming a big business, however, again I hope to not lose the love of the sport and the basics, and that part of it, and yet the sport itself, oh my gosh, it’s amazing. And you can see it on television. You can turn it on, on the internet, all the time. All of that is magnificent. And yet, to still love the basics and where people start from. And again, the love of the horse.
Aleco: Canyoupleasetellusyourfavoriteexercisestoprepareyourhorseswhileyou’reat home?
Anne: I do a lot of flat work, a lot of basic dressage, a lot of lateral work, leg yielding, shoulder in, half-pass, all kinds of basic dressage. Even with young horses. They need to learn it. So, a lot of that. Some gymnastic work, with bounces, and really setting up the exercises for horses, you know bounces, and real gymnastics, one-strides and two-strides. That kind of work. Also, at home, I have a lovely grand prix field, so I like to get outside and not just be in rings all the time. You know, so much of our sport is now really in rings. But, jumping the natural jumps, and up the banks, and over the ditches, and the water jumps. So, I like to incorporate that, especially when we’re going to those kinds of horse shows. But, that sort of natural galloping and jumping, as well. The variety of all of that. Especially the dressage, and then exercises to lengthen the horses, or shorten the horses, or triple bars to para-verticals, just like the course designers ask for. Getting them to be able to stretch and shorten, and playing with different exercises, to achieve those goals, and some little trail riding through our woods, as well, to keep them happy.
Aleco: What is some advice you would give to an up and coming rider?
Anne: To really follow your dreams, and I mean that sincerely, if that’s what you want, and again, not shy away from hard work. You know, I got opportunities because I was at the barn as much as I could be there, and I was setting jumps, and cooling out hot horses, and I was there and I wanted to learn. I was a sponge, and I made myself available for that, and I’d be sneaking around the barn, where I probably shouldn’t have been when I was a little kid, watching and learning. So, being open to learn. Not being afraid to make mistakes. We all learn by making mistakes, you know, no failure. Just feedback. So that, work hard, be open, and show people that you want it. The minute you think you know it all, forget it. You’ll never get anywhere. So, it’s always about being open to learn. Even today, I’m still open to learning, and watching other riders and other professionals. So, don’t be afraid of hard work. Be ready to work hard. If this is your passion. If this really is your passion, it’s really hard work, no question. Physical, and all of that. But, I’d never trade it for anything. You know, I love that, and yet, if you’re up-and-coming, and you show people that you want to be out there and that you’ll do whatever – cleaning stalls, or doing whatever to get ahead to make your way, and that you can do it, and you learn to drive the manure spreader, you know you learn to do different things. That shows people that you really do want it and that you’re hungry. Today, I feel like you don’t see that enough. And from that, your dreams do come true. It’s not someone handing it to you. It’s that you work for it and you follow it. And that passion, there’s nothing like it, and I’m so thankful for it, for the love of the horses and doing what I can do to be my best.