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Kathy Anderson: Following a Passion

(Editor's note: the following editorial was published in the August 24, 2014 issue of the Walking Horse Report)

By Sarah Smith

Kathy Anderson was born in western Pennsylvania, but grew up in Livingston, N.J. She is the oldest of three sisters and the daughter of a school teacher and coach. Anytime away from school was filled with sports activities, but Kathy dreamt of one day owning a horse. She recalls a picture of a horse in her childhood pediatrician’s office, “I thought it was the most beautiful horse I’d ever seen,” said Kathy. Looking back, that picture was one of a Tennessee Walking Horse and an image that filled her dreams into an adulthood passion.

Kathy did her undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland and then attended the University of Florida Law School. After her graduation, she moved to Miami and buried herself in her work with the Holland & Knight Law Firm. Hard work paid off and she soon made partner with the firm at a very young age and was the first woman to be named head of a practice area. Kathy worked for the firm until her retirement 10 years ago. Since then, she has continued to practice as an in-house counsel for the family business and investments.

During her time at Holland & Knight, Kathy met her husband of 31 years, John. The two have a daughter, Amanda, who recently moved to Maryville, Tenn., and is the Spa and Wellness Director for Blackberry Farm. Amanda enjoyed horses and showed with her mother as a child. John, while he loves and supports Kathy’s showing of horses, only participates from afar. John however, did purchase the couple’s Shelbyville Farm over 20 years ago while Kathy was at the barn riding! The farm is the Andersons’ getaway from their home in Winter Park, Fla.

Kathy’s first opportunity to ride a horse was while attending law school. Her friend gave her lessons on a horse named Jack. Jack was half walking horse and half saddlebred. Through the years, Kathy’s love for horses and dream of owning one was still alive. After years of hard work and burying herself in her law practice, John told Kathy she needed to follow her passion and enjoy herself. It was then that Kathy began her search for her own Tennessee Walking Horse. Her first purchase was a 17 hand racking mare from the Another Masterpiece bloodline. Being in Florida posed problems for owning a performance horse. Farriers are not as accessible in Florida as they are in “horse country” of Middle Tennessee, so she sold her mare and focused on flat-shod walking horses. The Andersons quickly added several horses to their line-up.

Kathy won her first World Championship in 1997 aboard Coin’s Lovely Lindy. She owned and loved the special mare her entire life. Coin’s Lovely Lindy passed at the grand age of 27 and is buried on the Andersons’ farm in Shelbyville. Since then, the Andersons have owned and shown many horses and continued their support of the industry financially and with their time and efforts.

When Hannah Pulvers moved her training facility to Shelbyville, Tenn., several years ago, Kathy was excited to finally have the chance to ride one of her horses, and bought a horse from Hannah that same week. Kathy is quick to express her admiration for Hannah. She says, “Hannah’s drive for excellence and her training talent are unmatched. I am learning from Hannah so much more about horsemanship and the partnership with my horses that it makes the whole effort incredibly rewarding and above all, fun! Hannah is straightforward, generous and puts the welfare of the horse above all. I think of her as family.”

At this point in Kathy’s “horse world” she has several young prospects, but her main attention is on her 2013 World Grand Champion, Bel Air. Hannah called Kathy early last season and told her, “This is the one!” Although Kathy didn’t have the time in her schedule, she quickly flew to Tennessee to try him out. As she says, “it was love at first sight.” After seeing Bel Air and taking a quick test ride, he was quickly added to the Anderson’s show string. Bel Air is by Jose’ Jose’ and out of a daughter of the great Ebony’s Belle. Bred and raised by Paige Edwards in Dawson, Ga., even Paige pushed Kathy to become the owner of her talented baby. Everyone involved knew there was something special about the young black gelding whose beauty and movement had the look of a champion.

In 2013, Bel Air carried Hannah Pulvers and Kathy Anderson to 12 blue ribbons and gave Kathy the ride of her dreams to claim the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship. Bel Air has a total of nine blues this season. As Kathy talks about acquiring Bel Air last year and enjoying all his success in his first show season she says, “It was very rewarding for all involved and a little overwhelming. He is the horse of a lifetime.”

Kathy feels so blessed to be able to share her life with these fabulous horses and is looking forward to showing her reigning World Grand Champion Bel Air at this year’s Celebration, with the guidance and expertise of her trainer and friend, Hannah Pulvers.

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