We will be kicking off the 2020 AGDF season in just two short weeks! This week, the very talented FEI Dressage rider, Annie Klepper, is stepping under our spotlight. Although Annie is only 14 years old, she has already achieved some incredible accomplishments such as being the youngest rider ever to have earned double golds at the North American Young Rider Championships. Continue reading to learn about how she got involved with horses, her 2019 highlights, and more!
Photo courtesy of Meg McGuire
How did you get involved with horses?
I’ve had the wonderful gift to be able to grow up around horses my entire life! I live on a horse farm in rural Ohio, and my younger years were filled with trail rides and bareback rides. My mom gave me lessons and a great foundation to learn from. I started taking formal dressage lessons around the age of eight on the sweetest 12-hand pony in the world. I competed in FEI Ponies before I went on to do Junior’s this year. This will be my fourth season competing in Wellington.
How have horses impacted your life?
How have they not? I wouldn’t trade the life I have for anything. The people I have met, the places I have traveled, the things I have seen, the majority of my experiences have originated with riding. Horses have always been a part of my life and they will continually affect it. It has shown me things that exceeded my view of the world and taught me that my life could be anything but conventional. I’ve sacrificed some of the normal aspects of teenager-dom for this sport, like trading public school for online, but I don’t regret it in the slightest. It’s allowed me to see that I do not have to conform to a traditional way of doing things, and I am extremely grateful for that.
Photo courtesy of Susan J. Stickle
You’re the youngest rider to win double gold medals at the NAYC. To whom do you owe your success and how has that inspired/motivated you?
I feel so lucky everyday to have such a great team behind me. First and foremost, my parents. They are the two people in the world that I know I can always count on. I am so proud of my mom for starting a very successful small business that helps to fund my riding. Her independence and fire will always be a motivation for me. She is my best friend, and she has no idea what her constant support means to me. My dad is an incredible human. He has never once questioned the crazy things I do for horses. Even when he can’t make a show, he’s cheering through the livestream and face-timing me after my ride. After NAYC, he even decorated the entire driveway and home with hand-made “gold medals.” This sport can be incredibly challenging at times, but the unwavering love and support from my parents keep it colorful and real. I know everyone says this, but I am truly convinced that I have the best parents in the world.
Finally, my trainer, Kristin Stein. She is absolutely genuine. Always putting herself last and doing anything she can to make your day better. She went above and beyond to make sure that I could ride the best possible test. She is definitely a perfectionist! She is such a talented, humble and well-educated rider, but an even more incredible human being.
I definitely owe each and every one of my wins to my team and, of course, my wonderful horse.
Photo courtesy of Annie Klepper
Tell us a little bit about the horses you will be competing with this season.
I’ll be competing my horse, Happy Texas Moonlight, who is a fabulous horse. He’s known as ‘Louis’ around the barn. We’ve been working together for a year now, and he’s absolutely my heart horse. He’s such a good boy under saddle and on the ground. He just gives so much and loves to compete as much as I do. We’re excited to be doing the CDI circuit for FEI Junior’s. AGDF is such a great facility, and we already have had some very happy memories there.
What are your goals for 2020?
I would love to try fourth level this year, but Junior’s is my main focus at the moment. My goal for this winter is a 70+ average, so I’m working on polishing my ring craft, making everything more rideable, nailing down specific movements, etc. Again, my trainer Kristin is a perfectionist, and I LOVE that. I would love to do NAYC again next summer. Regardless of placing, my goal is to simply be better than I was last year.
Photo courtesy of SAS Photography
Thank you, Annie. We can’t wait to watch you in action at AGDF 2020.