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May, 2014

Accomplished Central Texas Horsewoman To Compete In American Horsewoman's Challenge With 49 Other Women From Around The United States And Canada

Anne Van Dyke riding Isacc, a Percheron gelding at a desensitizing clinic at Cold River Equine.
(click to enlarge)
Anne Van Dyke riding Isacc, a Percheron gelding at a desensitizing clinic at Cold River Equine.
Anne Van Dyke riding Isacc, a Percheron gelding at a desensitizing clinic at Cold River Equine.
(click to close)

October 3-5, 2014 over 4000 spectators and up to fifty competitors will converge at the Lazy E in Greater Oklahoma City for the 2014 American Horsewoman's Challenge competition and celebration of the "Year of the Horse Woman".

The Challenge is a continent-wide equestrian competition showcasing some of the best women horse trainers in the United States and Canada. This six-month competition requires horsewomen to train a young horse in Ranch & Trail Versatility, Cowboy Dressage and Liberty. They will then bring it to the Finals to compete head-to-head for bragging rights as North America's best female trainer.

Competing in the Challenge are several world-class horsewomen including Mary Miller-Jordan, featured on National Geographic's Mustang Millionaire television series, 2014 Road to the Horse Wild Card runner-up, Mary Kitzmiller, 2013 Road to the Horse competitor Obbie Schlom and many more of the top women trainers in North America.

The Challenge Finals will culminate, with an exciting Freestyle event demonstrating the horse-human partnership, lightness, music interpretation and creativity. A panel of celebrity judges will critique and score the freestyle performances in front of the live audience.

Anne Van Dyke of Brave Horse Center in San Antonio, TX will be among the competitors for this first all women competition. Anne, an already accomplished horsewoman who has done so much, is now taking on yet another challenge, "I was so excited when I got the call! Then it hit me! Oh my gosh! What was I thinking? And I don't even have a horse picked out yet!"

Over the years Anne has had great success with horses in many venues. She's run a successful horse-drawn carriage business in San Antonio, TX for 32 years, competed successfully in competitive trail rides of 35 - 100 miles. In addition, she raised and showed American Paint horses, competed around the country in combined driving events to include Gladstone, NJ at the USET facility where she won first in her class and high point over all in the Intermediate Division. From 2004-2007 she and her husband were instrumental in rescuing over 250 horses from the PMU industry in Canada. Plus, she's won many placings in ACTHA trail rides. Three years ago she founded and now helps to run Brave Horse Center which is a training and confidence building center in San Antonio where many horses and owners have come to build a better relationship and increased confidence for both.

Brave Horse Center was spawned as a result of a horse related injury which grounded Anne for over a year when the resulting fear from the accident left her terrified to ride. Hard to imagine after her collective history with horses, but it happened. Her fear was so intense that she almost gave up on horses entirely and was ready to sell her tack. A last minute invitation to a popular clinician's tour stop helped her to see a way to approach working with horses that gave her new hope; "ground work".

By utilizing and training with ground work exercises, horses can be taught to be light and responsive and start developing more confidence while the "rider" is safely on the ground. Since her accident was the result of a horse spooking and bolting in a panic, she knew she could take the ground work one step farther by adding desensitizing and obstacle work. The motto at Brave Horse "A Brave Horse is a Safer Horse" is something she is very committed to.

The timing for this competition doesn't quite fit into where Anne is in life right now. "I thought about waiting until next year,"" Anne reflected, "but when I thought about the fact that I'd be 60 years old by then. I better go for it now! I just can't let fear stop me from stepping out there and giving it a go."

The three phases of the competition fit well into two of Anne's great passions: trail obstacles and liberty work. Anne has had a dream since childhood to have a horse that she could play with at liberty. "I've had a routine in my head for many years," Anne shared. "Complete with music, costume and the moves. If I make the top ten of the finals, this will be a lifetime dream come true."

The Cowboy Dressage portion of the competition will give her a chance to grow in another discipline with horses. Though she has competed in Driven Dressage as part of Combined Driving, ridden dressage is something entirely new. Fortunately, the time she has been spending with Dennis Reis of Universal Horsemanship in CA where she has begun to learn the very basic premise of Classical Riding, will help to give her a start in that direction. She will be adding dressage clinics to her already busy schedule as well.

Noah Tillman-Young, trainer at BHC has this to say. "I have known Anne for 6 years and in those years she has never stopped thriving to be the best trainer she could possibly be. Her hunger and thirst to know more, learn more, and challenge herself more is what distinguishes her the most. Anne is not satisfied with just getting by. Anne is always transforming and evolving to better suit the needs and challenges of her equine companions. Simply put, Anne is fair to a horse and gives them an opportunity to be the best they can be. Anne has a soft touch and an ability to lay a good solid foundation on the horses she works with. No steps are sipped, nothing is rushed, safety is not compromised. The end product; a solid, safe horse."

The competition kicks off with an Opening Ceremony on Friday, October 3rd featuring a performance by Nashville singer/songwriter Templeton Thompson, as well as other equine entertainers and clinicians. The weekend will include demonstrations by competitors and featured clinicians with shopping at many booths of equine retailers and service providers.

Tickets to the event go on sale later this month through Ticketmaster.
For more information about the competition visit www.horsewomanschallenge.com.
Follow Anne Van Dyke on Face Book: www.facebook.com/ravandyke or on
Her Blog: http://horsewomanschallenge.com/author/annevandyke/