International dressage rider and trainer Anna Ross has shared a slice of “life advice” with aspiring dressage riders looking to make it in the sport – especially those who may not be “financially blessed”.
Last weekend, Anna competed at the Hickstead Premier League with her two grand prix horses, finishing ninth with 10-year-old Ampere x Sydney mare Habouche (Holly) in the grand prix, and a very close second behind Andrew Gould in the grand prix special with 12-year-old Uphill x Riverman gelding Delgado.
“Holly and Delgado are completely different characters so it’s really important I remember which one I’m on,” said Anna, as she reflected on the show.
“Riding all different horses in the riding school as a kid turned out to be my best asset as an adult professional, as it meant I learned to teach a fast horse to go slow and a slower one to go fast,” she continued, referring to her upbringing in London and introduction to horses via a riding school.
“If you’re thinking of becoming a professional rider, it’s a good idea to learn to ride as many different types of horses as you can, then you give yourself the most opportunities and have more fun,” she advised.
“To be brutally honest, no future employer cares if you ‘like’ riding [a horse] or not – it’s about whether you can or not that is interesting. It’s your job.
“One of my biggest chuckles is listening to people tell me that the horse is that or that, or ‘isn’t good enough’,” she adds, saying that many would be surprised how often she hears this from young professional riders. “I’m thinking, ‘Are YOU good enough?’ I’ll leave you to decide what the answer usually is.”
H&H columnist Anna Ross, who runs Elite Dressage, is known for her straight-talking advice and approach and has proved an inspiration to many riders who hail from non-horsey backgrounds.
Anna herself didn’t ride her first dressage test until the age of 23 and would work in bars, sell sandwiches, and teach to help fund her riding career. She went on to ride for Britain for many years, including at the 2007 European Championships with Liebling II.
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