Anne Kulak and London Gem
Anne was born and raised in Connecticut. Her riding career began just before the start of World War II. Her very young years during spring, fall, and winter were spent having lessons with a well-rounded, competent, and nurturing woman in West Hartford, CT. Summer took the family to South Strafford, VT. Little did they know that several decades later, in the early 1960s, South Strafford would become the eventing capital of the east!
During the 40s and 50s (age 10-20 years), summers were a young horse-loving girl's dream. Anne attended camp KenJocketee, a girl's camp where Sally Swift, founder of Centered Riding, was the instructor (Anne was 9 years old). Centered Riding was in the incubation mode and as yet Sally's teaching not identified as "Centered Riding." How fortunate for Anne to be in on the ground level. Horses were bicycles of sorts for Anne and her friends - bareback, halter and lead rope, sneakers, and - horrors! - no helmets. And cover the countryside they did.
Anne married in 1952 and moved to Indiana because of her husband, John's, career. Family grew to six children. In 1964, the Kulaks moved back east and settled in upstate New York. They acquired a small farm in Scotia and of course, horses were the focus. Tuck-A-Hoe Farm ("The Farm") was a grand place to raise children and assorted horses and ponies. Pony Club, 4-H, haying, boys in sports, along with teaching riding to a small number of students, kept Anne very busy.
In the early 1970s, Anne was able to connect with the awakening dressage and event world. She felt eventing, horse trials, and dressage were better suited to their family life style. Anne soon became involved with a small group of like-minded horse enthusiasts and together they founded the Eastern New York Dressage and Combined Training Association, Ltd. This led her to venturing forth to compete in both horse trials and dressage shows.
In the mid 1970s, Anne reconnected with Sally Swift, as Centered Riding was beginning to take real form. The Centered Riding concept appealed to and inspired Anne in many ways. Sally had been a role model early on during camp years, and remained a family friend for years beyond. Anne is a Level II Centered Riding instructor and continues her attachments to Centered Riding.
Over the years, Anne has enjoyed partnerships with some very special horses. Her present horse of 12 years, and partner for the Century Ride, is London Gem. He is a small 20-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. Gem began his career as a racehorse, then a show hunter prospect.
Currently Anne works regularly with Janet Black. Anne said, "Not having competed for many years, we thought it might be fun to spring for The Dressage Foundation's Century Ride! It is amazing where our riding journeys lead us and enrich our lives." Anne owes much to her supportive family, friends, and staff of Kulak Equestrian - daughter, Marcia, is at the helm. Anne is grateful to all and of course to the horses, past and present. They are and were her teachers, too.
Anne and Gem rode Training Level Test 3 at the Stockade Polo and Saddle Club Schooling Show on September 23rd. They received a 79.200%!
Photos by Stan Horton