Grand Prix On A Challenge

Anne Gribbons

In 1974 Anne acquired her first 'real' dressage horse, an ex-racehorse Thoroughbred named Tappan Zee by Royal Charger. "He was gelded late, and he had two huge bowed tendons from the racetrack, but he was schooled to Prix St. Georges by Jordan Miller," said Anne. Lois Stevens owned Tappan Zee and had given him to Jordan to sell to pay for his college tuition when he was accepted at Princeton University . Anne was a friend of Jordan 's and bought the horse from him. Jordan 's father, Michael Miller, came to her farm to help train Anne. " Tappan Zee was my first leg up to an education. He was a wonderful horse - fabulous, forward, and honest; a horse that never said 'no' to anything, even when I fouled it up. He was such a patient teacher."

In the beginning, Grand Prix dressage was not one of Anne's aspirations, but she remembers distinctly when it was that she decided that she wanted her horse to be a Grand Prix competitor. A few days after she acquired Tappan Zee , a well-known professional dressage trainer called her to introduce himself and inquire about her purchase - in those days, FEI horses in America were few and far between, so 'everyone' knew who they were and where they were. The trainer told Anne that Tappan Zee would never make Grand Prix. "I said to myself, 'You just wait!'" recalls Anne. "That moment is when I decided, ' Tappan Zee is going to Grand Prix with or without me!' That really was a great inspiration - it was not intended to be, but that did it!"

Anne trained Tappan Zee to Grand Prix and earned her USDF Gold Medal on him. He died at 19 years of age. Anne discovered him in his stall with a broken pelvis. "He fought like a tiger to get up but finally he put his head in my lap and died." She later schooled many more horses to that level, but Tappan Zee left an indelible impression on her. "I've been fond of Thoroughbreds ever since," she said. "Later on I schooled another Thoroughbred - his name was Adastra - to Grand Prix, but he wasn't nearly as generous."