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Anna Ross’s top tip for all riders: ‘Never get back on for a third time…’

The British grand prix dressage rider, trainer and H&H columnist shares her top tips for success and explains how she built a successful career despite coming from a non-horsey background in an exclusive interview on this week’s episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast...

When you look at Anna Ross’s dressage training and sales yard surrounded by the beautiful Devon countryside and her successful career to date, including being the highest placed British rider in 10th place at the 2007 European Dressage championships, you might assume she was born into an affluent horsey family and had been competing in dressage from a young age. But you couldn’t be more wrong.

“I’m London born and bred and whilst I loved all animals, and was particularly obsessed with horses when I was young, there is no horsey background in my family at all,” Anna explains to H&H dressage editor Polly Bryan in the fifth episode of The Horse & Hound podcastclick here to listen now.

Anna rode her first dressage test at the age of 23, and while she credits help from a number of different people along the way, one thing that stands out is that she was prepared to work extremely hard to earn her opportunities, something she thinks is missing from some of the current generation.

“If people see you are trying hard, they will help. I did everything – I worked in bars, lots of bars. I used to get up very early in the morning, make sandwiches and sell them, then I used to teach or ride in the afternoon and I worked in the pub in the evening. Along the way there were many people who helped me out – mostly because I think they thought I was nuts, but it was clear I was willing to work incredibly hard.”

And her advice for young riders trying to make their way in the industry today?

“I think the really important thing to do is listen and learn. People tend to set up very early on their own these days — that’s an increasing trend. My advice would be to listen to other people – I think that’s one thing I had the good sense to do.

“Also remember your riding skill means more than anyone else’s gold-baubled stable yard. There are many, many people in this sport who did not start off with all the bells and whistles who’ve done extremely well. I think if people spent more time thinking about what they could do, and less time complaining about what they haven’t got, they would do a lot better.”

While Anna may not have had the flashy lorry or the smart set up at home when she got started, this didn’t stop her from representing her country at championship level with the talented, but challenging, Liebling II.

“Liebling was very naughty as a young horse. He was very funny – he was never nasty, he just thought he was hilarious. He was over-engined and undisciplined – wilful and very nappy. It would be fair to say that I spent as much time running after him as I did riding him when he was a four-year-old, but obviously he taught me an awful lot. He was the first horse I took from a green four-year-old all the way through to championship team.”

Now she focuses on producing the next generation of dressage stars at Elite Dressage, with a focus on breeding horses with “good conformation, that find the job easy, as that helps horses have good temperaments. I’m determined to give myself an easy life by breeding purpose-bred, calm, sensible, well-rounded young horses.”

And the best piece of advice Anna says she has been given in the past?

“Never get back on for a third time – if you’ve already falled off it twice, don’t go back for more!”

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