Swedish Grand Prix rider Anna Blomgren-Rogers sees motivation and confidence as the two most important cornerstones of the success she has achieved. After traveling the world for a number of years to learn from the masters of dressage, she now lives in Germany. Together with her husband, Australian Will Rogers, she combines the highest level of dressage with aesthetic environmental training. For their shows, Anna confronts both motor vehicles, fire and large fluttering pieces of fabric along with her majestic horse, Peat Quattro. No fear or doubt is to be found between the two. Anna and her horse are there both for each other and with each other - and it has taken patience to get there.
You may also like to read: The Drum Horse: Meet the kind, unique and giant dressage horse
We have met Anna for a talk on how to achieve what she does. What does it take to be able to fulfill your dreams, and how do you keep both you and your horse motivated throughout? One of the most important things Anna passed on to us is that the most difficult art of dressage does not lie in the horse, but in the rider's way of working with it.
Throughout her career, Anna Blomgren-Rogers has learned that even when you fail, you learn something - and in that way you always win. Even if you do not win your class, you gain some experience, and it can help bring you closer to your dream. She herself has experienced how losing weight can push you even more towards your dreams.
“Sometimes you just go home and cry. And you are angry at yourself because you have ended up last in the competition. But it is actually also the time where you learn the most,” she explains.
“My first horse was a show jumper that I did dressage with. We rode national competitions, and when we were about to start riding international competitions, we came kept coming in last. I kind of thought we were really good, because we had won many national competitions. When something like this happens, you go home and think about what you can do better - and then maybe you can win the competition next time.”
The experience has made Anna Blomgren-Rogers understand that you should not focus too much on one big dream. Because it will often be too far away in the future. Instead, you should concentrate on some smaller goals, which in the long run can help bring you closer to the dream. In other words, it is important for Anna to focus on what you have - not on what you do not have. And enjoy what you achieve along the way.
“It is important to have dreams. You have to have a vision in front of you, but you also have to divide it into smaller parts to be able to get there,” she says.
Thus, she emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision for the journey with the horse. Most importantly, the journey must include both large and small goals. So that you can motivate yourself in both the short and long term.
You should also consider your goals carefully in relation to the horse, Anna Blomgren-Rogers believes. It is important that you have different goals for each horse. The goals should also be adapted along the way as you get to know the horse and find out what it is capable of. It should ensure that the horse continues to feel motivated - something that is absolutely essential to be able to make it stronger.
"One of the most difficult things about the Grand Prix is to make the horse strong. This requires motivation on the part of the horse to be able to push himself physically,” Anna explains.
It is Anna's belief that patience is an important trait for the dressage rider to possess. An ability that she herself makes use of when she does environment training and difficult dressage exercises. It is the patience of the rider that will help the horse’s motivation and confidence. Therefore, Anna Blomgren-Rogers explains, you should never force anything and not suddenly skip a step in the training. The horse must be completely confident in its exercises before trying them out away from home.
“Sometimes you think the horse is ready, and then you take it to a competition at a level that it can only just perform at home. When it enters the arena and experiences pressure from the surroundings at the same time as it has to perform at the highest level, the pressure becomes twice as much, and then it falls apart so to speak.”
So in Anna’s opinion all work with horses takes time, and once a horse has lost some of its confidence, it takes a long time to rebuild it. If you feel take your time, notice the signals from the horse and give the horse the time it needs, you will see progress faster in the long run. After many years of patient training, the horse will eventually be healthy, happy and strong enough to participate at Grand Prix-level.
Having to train an animal that requires so much time and insight from the rider has its price - Anna Blomgren-Rogers knows all about it. She believes that you should be prepared to work hard and make some difficult choices if you want to succeed with your horse.
“There are things you have to say no to. I have had to travel a lot around the world to learn from the best people. That means I have been far away from friends and family. I just had to do it to achieve my dream."
For Anna Blomgren-Rogers, however, success is not about getting placed at a competition. It's about a certain feeling. For Anna, success is the amazing experience when everything comes together for a fantastic ride. The time when you as a rider notice that the years-long and patient training has paid off.
“The feeling that the horse is right there with you when you ride into a big arena is one of the greatest things you can achieve. It is more important to be able to make it work with the horse than to stand with a medal in hand.
As Anna points out, the work of bringing joy to the horse rests on the rider's shoulders. Therefore, it also requires motivation on the part of the rider. If you have it, you can create a strong relationship with your horse, where trust and patience are the mainstay - just like with Anna and Quattro.
With her deep understanding of the horse and its needs, it is not difficult for Anna to put a finger on what motivates her: “It motivates me to motivate the horse.”