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
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
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
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
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
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
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!”
“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.