Taryn Anderson with Addison & Romulus
Erie, Colorado (Region 5)
By Jennifer Keeler
It would be a challenge to come up with a better fairy-tale ending to the 2017 US Dressage Finals for Taryn Anderson.
As outlined in Anderson’s profile in the August issue of YourDressage, for the last two years Anderson has successfully qualified for the US Dressage Finals. And for both of those years, she also had to make the decision not go to simply because she couldn’t afford it.
“I have desperately wanted to go to the Finals every year I’ve qualified, but it just never worked out for me and I’ve always been so disappointed,” said Anderson in YourDressage. “But this year I’ve been saving money and have set my mind to do it, so I have no excuses if I’m lucky enough to qualify once again.”
Finally, Anderson got her chance. With invitations in hand thanks to success at the Great American/USDF Region 5 Championships and money saved from months of hard work and sacrifice, she packed up herself and her horses and embarked on the 17-hour trip of a lifetime to the Kentucky Horse Park. And it only got better from there.
Aboard her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Romulus, Anderson claimed the First Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship with 72.556% for their performance featuring music from Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” and The Script’s “Hall of Fame”, which Anderson described as “feeling like they tell a little story about the two of us.” Not to be outdone, her second ride aboard her mother Tammy Anderson’s 10-year-old Oldenburg mare Addison earned 70.011% to win the Third Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship in the Alltech Arena. “For Addison, we chose Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ song because it fits her perfectly – she really is a firework,” Anderson laughed. “We also use American Authors’ ‘Best Day of My Life’ for our canter work, which seemed especially appropriate today.”
In finally achieving her goal of competing at the Kentucky Horse Park, Anderson said her Finals experience turned out to be everything she dreamed of. “The anticipation of wanting to come for three years and not being able to, but then finally being here…it’s even more than I expected,” she explained. “I loved all of it – the huge atmosphere, the arenas, and everything going on…it was just awesome, and it surprised me a little in that the horses really took to it as well. Even though it took a couple of days for all of us to settle in, I felt like we really hit our stride on that last day. Both of the horses love their music and were really expressive in their tests and gave me great rides.
“The competition is really tough, and coming from a smaller region I was like, ‘whoa’ – there were a lot of really good riders and really nice horses,” Anderson continued. “Everyone was so nice though! It was cool competing against so many people from all over the country and such big classes – it really is an achievement just getting here and being able to place in the ribbons! It was not an easy task, and I feel like you have to be in the high 60’s/70’s to be in contention. I also learned a lot about the horses on the trip and how they travel and handle environments like this, so it will be nice to have that in my pocket for the future. For instance, both of them traveled well, but Romo didn’t eat much the first two days so know I know that he will take a little longer to settle in then Addison. Those sorts of things are so important to know.”
Anderson had a sizeable support team who also traveled to Kentucky to share in the experience. “My mom, dad, boyfriend and sister all came out, as well as my trainer Greta Vowell and our Dressage Pacifico team. It was awesome because we all show together, so it was like being at home. Having two horses to compete at the same time is plenty of work, but I had a lot of help so that relieved a lot of stress.”
Anderson, her family and friends also found time to enjoy activities outside the show ring. “My favorite thing was the venue and all the things to do on the grounds that kept us occupied,” she said. “It was so cool having such a nice huge indoor arena that you can shop at all the vendors and sit around and warm up and watch rides! Plus all the different places to eat and get coffee, as well as the USDF Hall of Fame just across the park and the famous Keeneland racetrack. It was cool having stuff to do all the time! We made sure to try a new restaurant to eat at every day, and we had a ton of good BBQ and southern food, including one place we found which had an amazing bourbon milk shake. Next time we come we hope to tour some of the Thoroughbred farms. And we do plan to be back!”