Anne Wilson of Dallas placed fourth in horsemanship aboard Visible Investment, which helped secure their Select all-around amateur win.
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by Tara ChristiansenThe American Quarter Horse Journal
When Anne Wilson set out to compete in all-around events, she had her eye on the Farnam Select All-Around Amateur award. The Dallas horsewoman expected such an achievement to take years to reach, so when she won the award at the 2011 Adequan Select World Championship Show, it was just a little too shocking, especially considering the circumstances.
“Last year, I didn’t know I was coming until three days before the show,” Anne recalled during her Journal Winning Run interview. Visible Investment, Anne’s bay gelding, suffered through lameness troubles last summer, which kept him far away from the show pen. “My horse had been off for the summer with a lameness issue that miraculously healed – miraculously, I think – right before the show. So I came here last year with no expectations – I was just so happy to be able to come.”
Of course, when Anne got to the 2011 Adequan Select World, she wanted to back up her and “Dudley’s” win in showmanship from the year before. And they did just that. With their expectations met, it was a huge surprise to Anne that she and her 12-year-old would go on to win the Select all-around amateur award that year. But the win was actually a bittersweet one; it ushered in fears of failure in the show season to come.
“Winning the all-around amateur at the Select World last year was my ultimate goal as an all-around competitor and once I achieved that, I felt like I could only go downhill,” Anne recalled. “So it was a little sad and frustrating. And we actually offered my horse up for sale.
“I had this fear of failure of, ‘How can I ever do as well as I did last year?’ ” she added. “As things have turned out, we’ve had a fantastic year. My horse has just become a better partner every time we go out.”
Bred by Donald L. Moothart of Fairfield, Iowa, Visible Investment is by Investment Asset and out of the Sonny Go Royal mare Visibly Royal. At the prime age of 12, Dudley is really hitting his stride with Anne, and the duo was riding the wave of a great show season when they arrived at the Tri-State Fairgrounds in Amarillo. But Anne still had to keep her mental game in check.
“This year, I’ve had a very healthy horse all year long. I’ve had as much preparation time as I wanted or needed. And I had the pressure of knowing that I won the top award last year and had to come back and try to do my best. It was a different mindset, for sure,” Anne said.
Anne took a lot of inspiration for her Select World mental game from none other than the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, which saw a great deal of success in London this summer.
“I got inspired by the Olympics this summer and I kept saying, ‘Well, the women’s gymnastics team motto was to be normal,’ and that’s the motto that I tried to remember – (it’s) just ‘Be normal.’ ”
And her husband, John, was a fabulous aide to Anne at the Select World, from grooming and longing to reminding her to “just be normal.”
A sixth-place finish in performance halter geldings set the tone for Anne and Dudley’s 2012 Adequan Select World. Their second class was showmanship – Anne’s favorite – and there was nothing she would’ve like more than to win the class for the third year in the row, a feat she’s unsure has ever been accomplished. Well, other than by Anne herself.
Likening a first look at a pattern to opening up Pandora’s Box, Anne was thrilled by the showmanship finals pattern, which she knew gave her and Dudley the chance to show their mettle.
“The finals pattern was a very good pattern for accenting our strength’s and my horse’s strengths. I was blessed that we went out there (and) my horse was nice and happy. It all worked out.” Indeed. Their three-peat win in showmanship made winning the Select all-around award for the second year a reality.
“At the point that I had done well in the gelding halter and the showmanship, I knew that I would have to do well in both (horsemanship and hunt seat equitation) if I was ever gonna repeat what happened last year with winning the all-around,” Anne said. Knowing what has a tendency to be her kryptonite, Anne dialed herself for strong performances her in last two finals.
“I’ll go out and I’ll over-show and adrenaline will get to me and sometimes I over-ask my horse for a maneuver. So I tried to ‘be normal’ and ride like I’m riding at home. Once again, my horse was just great – he was right there for me.”
After a fourth in horsemanship and a third in hunt seat equitation, the all-around race was out of Anne’s hands; all that was left to do was wait.
“I knew that there (are) always a lot of jumpers that can come back and win,” she said. A CPA – although she doesn’t practice anymore – Anne is definitely a numbers person, and she knew exactly where she stood in the standings. Right from the beginning of the show, Anne’s trainers, Jill Briggs and AQHA Professional Horseman John Briggs of Pilot Point, Texas, told her to keep head out of the numbers.
“John and Jill Briggs are great trainers and they’re like, ‘Don’t worry about that all-around – there’s a whole lot of showing to be done!’ And they’re exactly correct, but I can’t keep away from it once I get to a certain point,” Anne admitted.
So, Anne and John watched the Pfizer webcast from their hotel room on the last day of the show – September 1.
“After the first class, I thought that I was the lucky girl,” she said with a smile. “We were (also) watching my alma mater, Notre Dame, play football in Ireland, so we had both video presentations going at the same time. It was a good morning.”
With 50 points in the all-around race – their nearest competitor Lori Bucholz of Waterloo, Nebraska, and Larks Happy Days earned 31 points – Anne and Visible Investment secured themselves a repeat win. They received a prize package that included $10,000, plus $1,000 of Farnam products, an original Lisa Perry bronze, an embroidered horse blanket and a rose bouquet.
“God willing, I’ll be back, and try again,” she added. “Even if I don’t ever win this award again, I want to keep showing.
“Thank you to AQHA – it’s been my honor to show here and do well. Thank you!”