Team #561 Ann Beckwith and Ulla
Team #561: Ann Beckwith and Ulla
From: Fresno, California
Ages: 79 & 21
Combined Age: 100
Test: First Level Test 1
Date: May 21, 2022
I believe I always had a love for horses. I lived in a small farm town on the Utah/Idaho border until I was 12 years old. I had a grade school friend who had a horse and she and I would ride double on her horse, bareback. There was a stable just up the street from our house and the owner would occasionally let me ride his horse, Sweetheart, an old, lazy, black mare.
Years went by and horses didn’t come back into my life until the mid-1970s when my husband and I purchased horses for our girls to ride, who were in grade school at the time. I was living vicariously through my daughters, the dreams I had as a kid of owning my own horse. My oldest daughter moved to a ranch after she was married. Along with her horses, she boarded some horses for her friends there. One of her friends became pregnant and needed someone to ride her horse, so in 2003 this became an opportunity for me to get back in the saddle.
Of course, that led to me getting my first horse, Tuner, in 2004. My granddaughter, who was four at the time, also got the “horse bug,” and in 2005 we bought a pony, Pecan, and she, my daughter, and I would trail ride all around the neighborhood.
When my daughter sold her ranch in 2012, I moved my horse to another boarding facility, where my fabulous trainer, Meghan Flores, was working. I watched her train a group of young girls in dressage. It looked like a wonderful way to ride, and I wanted to learn since all I had ever done was just hack around. So, the lessons started! I had other horses that I owned and rode until in 2019 Meghan suggested I try my friend’s horse, Ulla, also in training with Meghan, and was for sale. Some thought Ulla and I seemed like an unlikely pair and even I questioned Meghan’s sanity in suggesting it! But we were a team made in heaven, I think, and she has become my true “heart” horse!
Ulla is a Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross. She is 21 years old and is 16.2 hands and a beautiful bay color. She is very smart and teaches me so much. But she is a worrier. I don’t think she liked or trusted me much for a long time. She wouldn’t take a horse treat from me. She wouldn’t let me catch her and it could sometimes take upwards of 30 minutes to finally get her haltered. Fortunately, after I would get her bridled and saddled, she was a gem.
Meghan had mentioned the Century Club in a passing conversation a while back, so when the 100 years age total between Ulla and me became a reality this year, I decided I wanted to do this Century Club ride. I thought how great this was to accomplish something just for being “old!" All my barn family were so supportive and truly made this one of the most memorable days of my life. They purchased blue t-shirts with “Team Ann” written on them, they made a huge banner with “Congratulations Ann and Ulla," a T-shirt for me that read “Century Rider -- Ann and Ula. We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough!" and stickers to hand out to anyone who would take one. I got to wear a sash like the Miss America winners wear with my name and “Century Ride 2022” written on it. That evening there was a BBQ dinner with champagne and cake for everyone. Santa Barbara County Chapter of the California Dressage Society also got into the celebration and thanked us for making their horse show special.
I want to give a big shout-out to my fantastic barn family who was there to cheer me on: Stephanie, Lily, Brian, Debbie, Jan, Maddie, Suzie, my awesome trainer, Meghan, and her sweet daughter, Daly. I couldn’t be more blessed!