Rider, Anita Hill, has a long history with horses that, not only started out in a different breed, but a different country all together.
“I started riding in South Africa in my early teens,” explains Anita. “One of our neighbors was a riding instructor and took me with her to the stables on a Saturday. I got to mainly ride thoroughbreds and “Boerperd”…a mix of breeds similar to Quarter Horses in disposition.”
“I spent the rest of my growing up years riding hunters, doing dressage and jumping,” competing all the way up until she had four children – selling her horse to focus on raising her kids.
But in October of 1998 that all changed. Anita and her family moved to the U.S., and she was finally introduced to Arabians through the Taylors of Taylor Ranch.
“They told me they had horses and that I should come ride. I asked what breed, and when they told me Arabians I was a little disappointed, as the only Arabs I had seen were all small horses, and I was used to bigger ones.”
“We arranged for me to come out to the farm, where I was first introduced to Aladdin. He looked at me with his big, intelligent eyes and I was impressed. I was then introduced and shown every horse on the farm. I ended up going out to their ranch every day, and I fell in love…”
Two months later, in December, her husband, John, bought Anita her first half Arabian, Mussiahs Quartermark (Wyatt). “The love of my life, he is now 19 years old.”
“The Taylors told me about trainers in the area and I ended up taking Wyatt to a trainer in the summer of 1999. It was a real challenge to my trainer as he taught me and Wyatt the ropes…Every show we went to I would always ask at the end of my class ‘Why did I not win? Did the judge not see Wyatt and just know he should be the winner?’”
Anita was officially hooked.
“I promised my husband one horse was enough, but the more I learned and competed, the more I realized I needed a more competitive horse. And so the madness started…I now have 6.”
Show Season: What is your favorite head-to-toe riding outfit?
Anita Hill: My favorite outfit is the outfit Melissa put together for me last year to wear in my western class. I ride with Cynthia Burkman, and when we knew I was going to go to Nationals, Cynthia told me to go to Show Season, let them take my measurements, give them a picture of my horse, then leave it to the professionals to do their job.
So I did just that, and the first time I saw my outfit was in the September just before we were due to leave for Nationals. I had arranged for Melissa to send it directly to Cynthia in California.
I must tell you, after I had my measurements taken and had asked Melissa to make me a drop dead outfit, she sent me their invoice. I remember opening it at home and wondering why there were so many zeros. After putting on my glasses and seeing how much it was, I called Melissa and reminded her I just wanted an outfit, not shares in the company. Of course we had a good laugh, and I paid and got my clothes.
When I first saw it I was bowled over. I remember saying to Cynthia it was just over the top and I could never wear it. She assured me it was stunning and just what I needed. I put it on and felt like a million bucks. To this day, every time I go to a show and put on my western outfit I feel like I just cant be beaten.
SS: Do you wear anything for good luck in the show ring?
AH: I never wear anything into the show ring for luck.
SS: What is the one thing you never go in the ring without?
AH: I know you are going to laugh and you probably won’t be able to repeat this… but Melissa made me buy one.
I never go into the show ring without…my corset.
The first time I brought it at US Nationals last year I had no idea how the thing worked so I started putting it on (all wrong) when my friend Katie Russell came into the dressing room and told me she did not think the “boobs” on my back would work. We figured it out and I always wear it to show.
SS: What has been your biggest accomplishment as a rider?
AH: My biggest accomplishment was my Reserve Championship both last year and this year. I only got Chase after Nationals in 2011, had never shown Western, and he was not in a bridle yet. In fact, once I had my outfit, my gorgeous horse, got to Nationals, and told Cynthia I was going to win, she was a little nervous and told me to be patient. You should see my pictures. Every one in the barn has their mouths open….shocked. Ha! Knew we could do it!
SS: What are your riding goals for the future?
AH: My goals for the future are to do well at Scottsdale (last year was terrible), try to win at Nationals on Chase, and also do better at riding my Half-Arab, Its a Celebration.
SS: Who has been the most influential in your riding career?
AH: Without a doubt Cynthia. I watched her for many years before I took a horse to her, and when I did the first thing she asked me, “What it was I wanted to do with my horses.” My answer? Win.
She has heard me, helped me, let me figure things out, taken amazing care of my horses, encouraged me, been honest with me, and helped me win.
I have to also say Natalie Jones. She has only been with Cynthia for a little while, but she, too, has done so much to get Chase to the point he is at. In fact, the most amazing thing was that she did not show him this year at Nationals in the open Western class so that I would have a better chance at doing well.
I must also add that I have told Melissa to come up with something really special for this year’s Nationals.