This week I’m thrilled to be chatting with dressage rider and trainer Anna Bostrand-Daly. Based in Cambridgeshire, Anna has enjoyed considerable success with her team of horses and is certain to enjoy even more success at the very highest levels as her young horses progress. Read on to discover more about this exceptionally talented lady, her horses, her ambitions, and her top tips for success.
Tell us about you and your horses
I am a dressage rider and trainer who live in Cambridgeshire with my wonderful (non horsey) husband Ryan, our two dogs Lincoln and Abe and my team of horses, plus some other four legged house guests too.
I have been in love with horses and the beauty and discipline of our sport for as long as I can remember and always wanted to work as a trainer and have the horses at home, so I truly am living the dream right now.
I moved to the UK over 20 years ago from Sweden and had my training between the Scandinavian and French school of classical riding.
When people ask what this means I find the easiest way of explaining it as the art of riding with your seat 90% and your hand 10%, to give an idea of how the ultimate aim is to create lightness and self-carriage from the horse by teaching the rider how to use themselves effectively in the saddle.
I currently have a team of 4 horses;
Zavir being the “founding member“, and a horse I have had the pleasure to own for 8 years, he has a massive ego but talent to match.
I have competed him successfully up to FEI Inter I level and train most of the Grand Prix movements with confidence. He’s officially retired from competition now and is just growing old disgracefully at home, keeping us all on our toes and still in full work and fit and well.
Bo (It’s Avo) is my current FEI Inter I horse and he’s a complete workaholic, I always say he’s got more of a work ethic than me and I like to work 6 days a week but have one of rest, if it was up to Bo, Sundays would be removed from the diary,
This love for the job makes him extraordinary and he has progressed from Prelim aged 5 to FEI Inter I at only 8, I have to hold this horse back if anything, but we will now start to work towards FEI Inter II at home and aiming to have a competitive outing at that level later this year or early next year.
Trixie (Jane Plays Trix US) my first ever and only mare! It took a very special one to win me over and that she is, this girl is the Queen of the yard and all the boys are smitten with her stunning looks (dark bay with 4 white socks, a horse equivalent of Cindy Crawford).
She loves her job and also going for a good canter across the field, lots of positive energy and although a “spooky“ horse I always say I would ride her anywhere as she’s very safe.
Trixie was a very green 5 year old when I bought her and she’s now rising 8 and competing well at Advanced Medium, training towards PSG and hoping to move her up by the end of this year.
Banksy (Lauderdale Ashbank) is my brand new black beauty!
He is proving to be a true talent and although he enjoys his work he suffers with young horse syndrome and gets ever so tired and likes a day off after exercise, but we are compromising with 2 days on one day off.
In a short 6 months he’s progressed from Prelim to Elementary and schooling Medium, I think this boy will be truly fantastic in another six months time, he’s only rising 6 now so watch this space!
How did horses come into your life?
Growing up I spent weekends with my Dad who ran a Stud breeding Standard bred trotters (WB x TB) for racing on the ovals and they competed internationally and some that didn’t make the grade were backed and ridden and one of the first horses I rode was a lovely ex trotter.
How long have you been riding?
I have been riding since I was 6 years old, it was a pony at a riding school to start and then I moved on to horses pretty early on as I was always tall.
When and where do you ride?
I ride mainly at my own premises now, I am fortunate to have a lovely big arena, with mirrors, at home so my day to day training is all done here with my team, I try to get the young ones out to arena hires as much as possible.
How did you start riding?
I did residential camps during the summers and that’s where I did my first dressage test aged 12, on a 16.2hh show jumper who had bucked me off the day before and stood on my ankle as I landed, so I was on crutches but still managed to get on and did the test in sitting trot with one stirrup but I then couldn’t wait to do it again, albeit on another horse.
What do you love about riding?
One of the most beautiful things about riding is that for the time that you are in the saddle all your worries are left behind, it’s you and the horse and nothing else matters, it’s the best therapy in the world.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
My biggest goal will always be to produce one of my own horses all the way to competition standard Grand Prix, I truly feel that I now have a team of rides where this will be possible.
Bo is on track to be at that level by 10 years old, all being well, you don’t only need a talented horse you also need them to stay sound and well.
My horses go out and some even live out as it suits them better, they can choose exactly what they want as I truly believe if they are happy in life they will thrive in their work.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
About 10 years ago I had a life altering injury during a mounting accident, which has left me with a reduced mobility of my left leg after extensive damage to my knee and tibia which was repaired with brackets, screws and bolts.
This means that I will always walk with a slight limp and only have 90 degree flexion and very little “power “ in that leg, basically I would fail a vetting!
How do you deal with them?
Post injury I am much more selective of the horses I ride, getting on any horse is of course a risk but nowadays I only take calculated ones.
The confidence in my riding ability was definitely shaken big time, but I also became much more determined to go out there and do as much as I can whilst I can.
It was devastating but I also think it has shaped the person/trainer/rider I am now.
My theory is that it the desire to ride is greater than the fear of riding then you will overcome any trauma or crisis of confidence, with help of course.
That’s the beauty of our sport, there is so much assistance to get if needed, from mindset coaches, sports psychologists as well as trainers, confidence building camps etc.
Your Top Tip
My top tip is that “You are your biggest competition“, trying to beat my last score is always my aim, this turns shows into pure fun!
I get excited and always feel really happy at a show, even a big finals, not nervous or worried, as I don’t care what the others get up to, I am there for me and to gauge where in training I am at, the most important is getting a test sheet with feedback and therefore a training plan, the sash or red ribbons are purely a bonus!
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Dream horse to ride would be En Vogue, I just love everything about this horse. I know many would choose Valegro but I think if they were next to each other I would still pick En Vogue, I know he isn’t supposed to be easy and can be spooky but hey, so can my Trixie and I still love riding her.
So yes, if I could choose any horse it would be him and I would love to give his Grand Prix freestyle program a try, if you are going to go for it you may as well go big.
Who is your equestrian hero?
Rider hero is easy, Kyra Kyrklund, the professor of dressage!
I love everything she does and her methods of training, I have been fortunate enough to have lessons, many, many moons ago, but her words still ring in my ears every time I ride. She is a living legend!
If you could have five people to dinner who would they be?
Five people for dinner, this is tough but think it would have to be Carl Hester, The Queen, Kyra Kyrklund, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Rick Stein because no way am I cooking with those guys in my house.
Favourite colour horse?
It’s a bit of a standing joke that I only buy a “brown horse“ because then my husband doesn’t know how many I have as they all look the same but as Ryan counts for a living (accountant) I can’t get away with that.
But I love a bay, especially a dark bay with 4 white socks like my Trixie.
Favourite horse event
My favourite horse event is definitely the National finals at Hartpury, such great atmosphere and a lovely place to visit, dressage heaven!
If I could have any food on my plate it’s a filet steak with bernaise sauce and hasselback potatoes, accompanied by a nice glass of Barolo, that’s for a special occasion, like the first Saturday of the week.
Favourite way to relax
There isn’t a lot of time to relax as my schedule is usually pretty full but I do like a good book, preferably a thriller or a good series on TV, but my life revolves around being with animals and that brings me a lot of happiness which really equates to a relaxed mind.
If you enjoyed meeting Anna you might like to view more dressage rider chatting with interviews here You can keep up with Anna’s progress and check out her instagram page here