By Anna Stanek
For the Clark sisters, Anna and Abbey, horse back riding has been a passion they have been able to share with each other. It all started back when Anna went to her best friend Melissa’s 8th birthday pony party at Columbia Equestrian Center. Anna loved it so much that she decided to have her birthday party there a few months later, which then led to her taking lessons with Columbia Equestrian Center owner, Chris Wallace.
Anna has been riding for ten years now and her love for horses brought her to William Woods University, where she is keeping busy getting her degree in Equestrian Science and Equestrian Administration. For the past two and a half years she has been showing a Friesian/Arabian cross named Fante in Eventing. The pair instantly clicked and have enjoyed competing in Beginner Novice and 0.85M-0.95M (2’9”-3”) Jumpers. Her goal for the 2019 season is to show eventing in the novice division.
Anna’s favorite thing about horses is the connection between horse and rider, something she strongly feels with Fante. She loves the exhilarating feeling of crossing the finish line of a cross country course or going double clear at an event, as it accentuates their bond.
“But above all, it is the greatest feeling of connection of all when she rests her head on my shoulder after a ride. That is the favorite thing about riding horses,” says Anna.
Though there are many moments that stand out in her time with horses, there are two particular moments that really stand out to Anna. One of those was when she was ten years old and got her horse Taxman, an OTTB, while her best friend, Isabel, got her horse Havens. Taxman and Havens were best friends and inseparable, just like Anna and Isabel.
“These two horses were inseparable, as were Izzy and I, and I remember telling her “they’re perfect because they’re best friends and so are we!” and proceeding to giggle with excitement,”says Anna.
Anna’s other favorite horse memory is when she got Fante. Anna’s mom had been tagged in a post for Fante on Facebook. Though Fante was located in Wisconsin, they decided to give her a shot, a decision Anna is thankful for. Now Anna has been working with Abbey and Fante, with the hopes of getting them competing together by 2020.
At two years old, Abbey would attend all of Anna’s lessons, no matter what the weather was. Shortly after, Abbey began riding around on Taxman and her pony Delilah. Then at age six, Abbey started riding lessons herself. She even competed at her first show at age six in Capt’n Jack, a Morgan/Shire cross.
Abbey shows in eventing and shows in jumping in the 2’-2’6” range. Most recently, she showed Sydney’s Playboy, where they placed six together, before he was sold to a new home. For most of her shows, Chalupa Batman has been Abbey’s main partner in crime. The pair even went viral on social media, with a video of the pair competing together that gained thousands of views. The two have a special bond and have lots of wonderful memories.
Abbey’s favorite thing about horses is that there is always somewhere to go where she will be happy. Whether that be at the barn or a show, Abbey savors every moment she spends with horses. Her favorite horse memory is when she competed at Windermere with Chalupa Batman in cross country.
“It was like flying in heaven. It was the best feeling on earth. All of my hard work had payed off and most importantly just meeting him and having that click,” says Abbey.
Abbey’s goal are to move up to the beginner novice division in eventing and to 2’6” in jumping. Abbey is also working on getting her pony Delilah back into shape. Abbey is aiming to be able to have Delilah in top shape for future shows.
Abbey and Anna have been able to bond over their love for horses. The pair loves being able to ride together whenever they get the chance. Abbey always welcomes any tips she can get from her older sister when it comes to riding. Lately Anna has been helping Abbey with Fante. Anna is truly proud of the progress Fante and Abbey have made. Seeing the pair grow together is reassuring to Anna, as the two of them are dear to her.
“We have our leaps and bounds, as siblings do, but ultimately to know that she looks up to me as not only her sister, but as her rider role model, is something that I will always hold close to my heart. I have been able to watch her grow into the rider she is today, training the one and only Chalupa Batman along the way, and now picking up training with my horse, and I could not be prouder. I am forever grateful that I have such a great sister to share my passion with and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” states Anna.
Even when they are not at the barn, their favorite things to do still involve horses. Anna enjoys reading various horse magazines and books, including Eventing Nation, Dressage Today, or all Horse Systems Go by Nancy S. Loving. She also thinks about what she will do with Fante on their next ride, based on her goals and previous rides. She also enjoys spending time with family, studying and getting coffee with friends. Outside the barn, Abbey likes to spend time with her dog, whom she sets up jumps for, just like horses. She also loves to reminisce on memories of showing.
Anna and Abbey are fortunate to be able to share their love of horses together as sisters. The two work hard and help each other out. They are dedicated to their riding and cherish every moment they can share together at the barn. Both Anna and Abbey are talented riders with bright futures. The two are forever grateful to have each other as sisters and horse lovers.