BY PAT FARNELLI
“I’m living the dream.”
That is how Holly Anderson explains her journey to triumph in the Novice Trail category at the 2014 World Championship Appaloosa Show.
The World Championship competition was held from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1 in Fort Worth, Texas, and Anderson has been deemed World Champion in that category.
At the present time, she is also leading the nation in three classes.
At the show, she placed in the top 10 for six out of eight categories.
• Novice Non- Pro Trail: first place;
• Masters Non-Pro Trail: fifth place;
• Masters Horsemanship: third place;
35 and over Showmanship: fourth place;
• Masters Showmanship: sixth place;
• Western Pleasure 35 and over: tenth place.
“I want to be leading in the nation at year’s end: that is my goal,” she said.
Anderson, a physical education teacher for 34 years, retired in June 2012 from the Elk Lake School District.
“Retirement was when I moved into my dream,” she said.
She didn’t have the time and means to pursue her dream while working full-time and raising a child.
A major part of the dream was finding the right horse.
“I was one of those little girls who was just passionate about horses from the get-go,” she said. “When I was in sixth grade, my parents bought me a pony, which was already too small. A year later, they bought me a horse.”
Coincidentally, the seller of the horse turned out to be the brother of the man she would marry.
She spent a lot of time riding and showed the horse in fairs and for 4-H through high school, but then sold it before leaving for college.
She graduated in 1978 and started teaching at Tunkhannock Area School district that fall.
“In 1982, I got back into horses,” she said.
The Appaloosa breed had always appealed to her. Known for their coat
patterns, Appaloosas were bred by Native Americans.
She was teaching at Elk Lake by then, and librarian Ann Caterson knew how much Anderson loved Appaloosas.
When a poster of a bay Appaloosa with a white “blanket” was included in a book order, Caterson gave it to her, and the photo hung for years on Anderson’s bedroom wall.
“That was my dream horse,” she said.
She said that a friend, Dianne Lindeborn, is a breeder, and most of her horses have been purchased through her Diamond L Appaloosas farm in Castle Creek, N.Y.
Anderson and her husband, Ray, have four horses on their Meshoppen farm.
“When I retired, I set out on a journey to find a bay with a white blanket to show on the national level,” she said.
At a World show in Fort Worth several years ago, Patty McCartin approached Anderson and introduced herself.
“She was friendly and offered any help she could,” Anderson recalled. “I expressed that what I wanted to do was to show at the National level. She said, ‘You have to have the right horse, or you will be wasting your time and money.”
McCartin had three riders in that show that were “high point” that weekend, which means highest scorers in their age group. “That was impressive,” Anderson said.
She asked McCartin to look for a horse.
“I told her, I want a bay with a white blanket,” Anderson said.
By the end of January the following year, McCartin called and said she had found a horse, and wanted Anderson to come and look at him. The Appaloosa’s name was Charlie Doolin, and he had just turned five years old.
Anderson traveled to Ohio to see him, and he was perfect.
“He matches up to my dream horse perfectly,” she said. “He is bay (dark brown coat with a black mane and black legs) with a white blanket covering his rump. He’s a very soft mover, very docile and deft. Charlie’s personality is very sweet and friendly, and he loves to eat.”
Charlie stays with the McCartins in Willard, Ohio, and Anderson travels there to ride him while he is in training.
“I credit Patty McCartin with training me in the skills necessary to compete,” Anderson said. “She drilled me hard. She’s a tough athletic coach.”
Anderson competed at the World show in 2013, and said that she had a really good experience there.
“I reflected on it, and had Charlie here for a while,” she said. “I did seven regional shows, then Reserve National Championships before Nationals, then seven more regional shows. I placed Reserve Champion in the novice class at the National Show. This really prepared me for the World Show.”
Anderson competes in the Western Performance categories, and said that it is necessary to qualify at the Appaloosa regional shows in order to move on to the national level.
The trail category uses very specific patterns on an intricate course.
Some of the tasks involved include pivots, gates, back-ups, side passes, lopeovers, back-throughs, and bridges.
“It requires great cadence and timing on the part of the horse and rider,” Anderson said.
Anderson credits her husband, Raymond, and daughter, Cody, for their support and dedication to her dream.
Her plan is to bring Charlie Doolin home for a while to her tidy Meshoppen farm, with its red barns and stable, training rings, and 1910 farmhouse that she and her husband have spent many years renovating.