5 Questions: Granite Bay dressage artist travels the worldBy: Margaret Snider, Granite Bay View Correspondent
Granite Bay’s Ana Gilmour, 32, has lived what might seem a fairy tale life, traveling all over the world in the pursuit of her work and her passion.
As a United States Dressage Federation silver and bronze medalist and certified instructor, Gilmour trains horses in dressage, one of the most difficult equestrian disciplines. She is a Federation Equestrian International Trainer.
She trains now at Gene and Carrie Orcutt’s Los Lagos Equestrian Center in Granite Bay and continues to compete in Concours du Internacional events.
As if this were not enough, she is also a talented musician, singer, and songwriter having performed at many locations in Auburn, Grass Valley, Roseville, Nevada City, and Sacramento.
1. How did you get your start?
My mom was a horseperson, my dad is a musician, so I got a little bit of both. I started riding as a kid, and my mom really encouraged me because dressage is really a great background. If you can do dressage, you can do anything, just as, if you are a dancer, if you can do ballet, you can then transform that into any dance that you want.
I had been to the Atlanta Olympics to watch when I was 16 and that changed my life. Now I find that the dressage athletes from that time are not only still around, but I’m working with them.
Hilda Gurney is really the person who got me started in what I’m doing today. I started when I was 14 as a working student with her, and then I went to work for her. She was wonderful, and helped me through my young rider years, which is between 16 and 21.
2. Where have you traveled in your work?
Musical-related trips include Italy, Israel, Ibiza (Spain), France, Ireland and Czechoslovakia. I moved to Grenada in 2006 and actually was playing music full time there. I played all over the coast of Spain.
I only did that eight months and then I was offered a position in Jordan by a cousin to the king, the prime minister’s son, a prince of Jordan. We did mainly jumpers and I did a lot of dressage work with the jumper horses. It was a beautiful farm in the desert of Amman.
For equestrian work I have visited Morocco, Jordan, Spain, Denmark, Holland, Germany, China, Canada, Belgium, England, Scotland and Hungary.
3. What kind of horse can be taught dressage?
Every horse can do dressage on some level. Horses are athletes, so it’s really important to look at their bodies, just like we do with human athletes. The dressage horses are built with a bit of a short back, between the wither and the croup. Their necks are medium to highset. So a horse that’s built uphill, with natural uphill balance is really the ideal.
Now that’s not to say you can’t do some of the lower level work on a horse that has a lower set neck. So many things play into a horse and whether they’re able to be trained, but a lot of it is, of course, their demeanor, and their breeding.
4. What is the greatest difficulty in training horses in dressage?
Any difficulties that I have don’t usually have to do with horses, it usually has to do with either politics or just the everyday goings on of a barn, dealing with different personalities. But really, it’s not that hard.
Then if you want to get into other difficulties, let’s say, how difficult the sport is and having to travel internationally and hold jobs in different countries, it’s really been difficult to be away from my family. My family’s all in Wisconsin. So that is sort of an exciting life, but at the same time it gets to be a little tiring at times.
5. What would you say is your greatest experience with your work?
I would say it is the all-inclusive experience of being able to travel internationally. I lived in Morocco when I was 14; I traveled there to learn to jump and lived with my family, who were with the State Department.
The best for me is really the chance I’ve been given to travel internationally and to see so many different cultures, all doing something that I just love, and something I’m good at, that I have a natural talent at. I love my horses, I love what I do, I love my music, I love to play music — my passion is international travel. And somehow it always happens. For me, that’s amazing.