Anne Hurwitz & Nando
by Katherine O. Rizzo
If you ask the 2009 Equiery Perpetual Dressage Award winner Anne Hurwitz what was the highlight of last year’s season riding Nando, she won’t mention the ribbons won and medals earned. Instead, she simply will tell you about the clinics she was able to participate in, the pleasure of taking care of her own horse and the satisfaction gained from building a better partnership with Nando, her 1995 Dutch Warmblood.
Building this partnership is what Anne is probably most proud of, as Nando can be a difficult ride at times. All in all, the partnership has never been stronger as the pair continues to excel in 2010.
An International Beginning
Anne describes her youth as that of the typical horse-crazy kid. Neither of her parents were riders, but Anne said she was “obsessed with horses” and finally convinced her parents to sign her up for lessons when she was seven years old. Her first time in a saddle was in Moscow, Russia where her father was a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. Department of State. “I took lessons at this riding academy in the Hippodrome,” she said. Anne also rode when visiting her grandparents in Norway.
From there, Anne never stopped riding. After moving back to the U.S. when entering middle school, she eventually began riding for Janet Hitchen, starting youngsters, hacking dressage horses and exercising and hunting Peter Hitchen’s horses. Anne also breezed track horses and rode for other trainers but never formally competed. “Riding different disciplines has given me a better understanding of horses,” said Anne. This diverse background is one of the many reasons that Anne has had such success with Nando. Jaralyn Finn, Anne’s current trainer, calls Anne a “super horsewoman.”
Anne turned to dressage in 2001 when she started riding with Fred Weber in Poolesville. She bought her first dressage horse, Niemeyer, through Fred and then began to compete in 2002. Anne began riding with Jaralyn in 2007.
After years of competing and riding in various equestrian disciplines, Anne decided to focus primarily on dressage for many reasons. “It is incredibly difficult and takes a huge amount of discipline and focus,” she noted. These traits might turn many riders away, but not Anne. She gravitated to the challenge.
Jaralyn stated that Anne’s greatest strength is how disciplined she is in regard to her life and to her horses. “She adheres to a strict schedule for herself and her horse,” Jaralyn commented. She went on to say that unlike most amateur riders and many professionals, Anne has already run five to nine miles, cleaned stalls and ridden her horse before 9 a.m. Then she puts in a full day of work as a clinical social worker for the Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Over the last few years, Anne has competed a couple of different horses. She had ridden up through Third Level with Finnegan, the horse she also earned her Bronze Medal with in 2007. She moved up to Fourth Level with him as well but decided to sell him to Jaralyn and take a break for the rest of the year.
Taking A Risk
Before Anne and Nando’s partnership began in 2008, Nando got his start with Becky Langworst-Barlow. Becky imported Nando in 1998 from Holland as a 3-year-old. “He was a wild baby but I hit it off with him right away,” said Becky. Together, Nando and Becky won several year-end awards at every level up through Intermediaire I. “He was always in the top five at the BLMs and GAIGs,” she added. Becky competed Nando through Intermediaire II and considers him trained through Grand Prix.
However in 2001, things began to unravel for Nando. “He’s a super super competition horse but I was always struggling with him and didn’t know what was wrong,” Becky commented. She had several veterinarians take a look at Nando and he was misdiagnosed several times. Eventually, he showed severe neurological problems. “One day he could barely walk as I took him out of the stall,” she said.
Eventually, one of the veterinarians suggested that Nando might have Lyme disease, so Becky had him tested. “His titer results were off the charts,” she said. Becky began an aggressive tetracycline treatment and started to see positive results. Shortly after the first treatment Becky said, “I had one of the most beautiful rides on him and was reminded what a super horse he is.”
At that point, Becky began looking for a new owner for Nando. Becky felt that Nando would only be happy in a show home but wanted to find the right person who could take care of him properly while still enjoying his talent. Through Jaralyn, Becky and Nando found Anne.
“We are kindred spirits and have the same taste in horses,” Becky said about Anne. As soon as Anne and Nando teamed up, they just hit it off. Anne took over his treatments and with the help of her husband, veterinarian Dr. Jim Lewis, Nando continued to recover.
Anne said she took the risk because she didn’t have anything to ride at that time and had her own farm where she could take care of him. She was attracted to his great personality and striking good looks and had hope that in time she’d be able to get him fit and sound enough to compete at Second Level.
A Successful Partnership
In the beginning, Anne had to take the time to get to know Nando and figure out not only how to ride him, but also how to keep him sound and happy. “It’s a rider, veterinarian, trainer plan; in that order,” said Jaralyn. Anne said that some days were fantastic and others were horrible. Becky noted that Anne is “very generous with him. If he is having a bad day, she just puts him away and doesn’t push it.”
Jaralyn added that Anne is great about taking things one day at a time and that she really makes sure Nando can handle what she is asking of him before ever asking. “Every day Anne has a good ride on Nando, she feels really grateful,” said Jaralyn. Jaralyn also pointed out that because Nando is a spooky horse by nature, the pair sometimes have tense tests.
In 2009, the pair competed at Fourth Level and ended the year at the Prix St. Georges Level. “Each show he got progressively, amazingly better,” explained Anne. Jaralyn felt that 2009 was a tough season because Anne and Nando were still trying to figure each other out. “She just tries really hard and they really do like each other,” said Jaralyn.
Though Anne and Jaralyn might have felt that 2009 had some tough moments, the judges felt differently. As a pair, Anne and Nando are very consistant in their scores at competitions. At the PVDA Annual Spring Show, May 16-17, 2009, the pair scored a 62.093% on Saturday in Fourth Level Test 1. This put them in fourth place in a competitive open division. On Sunday, they scored a 62.5% and won the Fourth Level Test 2 Open/BLM class.
Anne earned her Silver Medal in 2009, getting her second qualifying score at the PVDA Ride For Life show, June 27-28. Jaralyn says this show stands out most in her mind as Anne and Nando’s greatest accomplishment in 2009. The pair tied for third place on Saturday in Prix St. Georges and finished fourth on Sunday. Jaralyn pointed out that Nando typically needs the first day of competition to settle and that Anne would normally score better on the second day. After coming out of the Prince George’s Equestrian Center indoor and scoring a 61.842% on Sunday, Anne exclaimed to Jaralyn, “this is just so much fun and it’s just so hard! Not that I thought it would be easy.” She went on to tell Jaralyn about how much she learns every time she goes down centerline.
Anne competed at Prix St. Georges again at the PVDA Loch Moy Show on September 5 and placed second.
The success of the 2009 season has already transcended into 2010. Anne has moved up to Intermediaire I with Nando and has received several high score awards already. “She trusts him more and she knows him better, so there is a lot less tension in her ride,” said Jaralyn.
In July of this year, Anne and Nando won the Adult Amateur High Score Award for Prix St. Georges at Dressage at Lexington. There the pair placed fifth in the Prix St. Georges Challenge on Saturday with a 65.789% and third on Sunday at Intermediaire I Challenge with a 63.947%. Jaralyn was especially proud of Anne’s Sunday performance at Lexington because of Nando’s less-than-stellar warm-up. “He was a little bit tired and a bit cranky and they were having some problems in warm-up. She just stepped it up and rode each movement the best she could. She wasn’t tentative at all! It was just awesome to see!” Jaralyn explained.
“I’m so happy to see them doing so well together. It has all worked out very, very well,” said Becky.
Anne’s goals for the future are simply to continue working hard, learn as much as she can, and progress as Nando sees fit. For her, being structured and having commitment has led to her success and more importantly, allowed her to learn and grow with a great horse.
“I owe a lot to Becky for giving me the horse, Jaralyn for teaching me, and my husband for taking care of him,” she concluded.