5 minutes with: Show horse producer Anne Leaver *H&H Plus*

The show horse producer on scary trakehners and a mechanical happy hacker

  • Anne is a show horse producer and judge. Based in Lancashire, she is known for her rides on the cobs Tom Cobley and Father Ted, and more recently the lightweight Whitegate Dazzler, reserve champion at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in 2019.

    If you could have any horse in the world, which would you want?
    It would be my own horse of a lifetime, a dark brown gelding called Chunky Monkey. He wasn’t a show horse but he was the most wonderful all-round hunter and I took him hunting all over the country. He had a lovely attitude and even had his own little fan club wherever he went. He was just perfect. I lost him prematurely two years ago.

    How do you handle competition nerves?
    I would call myself a bit of a box walker. I probably get more nervous than people would assume and if I feel I’ve got a good chance the nerves hit me harder. I like to be on my own and have a little wander to get in the zone.

    What superstitions do you have?
    None, but my father used to be very superstitious. We couldn’t own anything green or pass on the stairs or put the saddle on first, and if we dropped scissors we had to get someone else to pick them up. One New Year’s Eve at an event someone said to me that it was a sin to be superstitious, so I thought that a good reason to drop them.

    Describe your dog.
    Rosie is a 14-year-old Border/Lakeland terrier. She’s the best girl and comes everywhere with us.

    What’s your favourite place?
    South Africa for its vastness and amazing views, and the Greek islands for their beauty and the sea. In the UK I love West Sussex; we are lucky enough to have friends who own a hotel near Goodwood so my husband John and I enjoyed the first weekend after lockdown there.

    What’s your most annoying habit?
    I was born bossy and organised so I spend my life trying to organise other people. Some are grateful and some absolutely hate it.

    What’s been your worst wardrobe malfunction?
    I’m very particular about what I wear so to me this would be a nightmare. Thankfully it’s never happened and if it did I would be distraught.

    The bravest thing you’ve done?
    I don’t consider myself a brave person. When I was 16 I did some Pony Club eventing and won individual and team competitions at the area trials. I jumped double clear but while I was coming to this huge trakehner I do remember closing my eyes and wishing it would stop.

    What kind of sleeper are you?
    I need my sleep and always like to have between six and eight hours; if I don’t get enough I can be bad tempered. One year before HOYS I’d had a really traumatic few weeks and hadn’t been getting enough sleep. It was the last day of the show and I overslept. I woke up to the owner banging on the lorry door; I missed the working-in but thankfully made the class. The horse, an Arab stallion, was amazing and we finished third.

    What have you been up to throughout lockdown?
    I was given a bike for my birthday in May. She’s a Pendleton Somerby and she’s called Patsy. I’ve been going out on Patsy with John and my friends. We’ve been doing 25-mile rides through beautiful countryside, stopping for a picnic and some champagne on the way. I like to call Patsy my “happy hacker”.

    Give us the lowdown on a horse that excites you…
    I have Sue and Simon Benson’s lovely novice cob who is half-brother to their lightweight and my current top ride Whitegate Dazzler. “Henry” is very similar in stamp and we’re excited to get him broken and out as a novice next year, all being well.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 3 September 2020