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December 4, 2009

Free Rein With: Anne Sparks

Anne Sparks, CEO of Horses Unlimited, with her stallion Wild Dance, 2005 reserve champion at the Nürnberger Burg-Pokal Finals. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst.

Anne Sparks has horses in her blood—her parents owned horses, and her grandfather was noted American Saddlebred breeder Dick Lumpkin. Sparks grew up riding horses along the ditches of New Mexico, later switching to the more conventional discipline of dressage as an adult.

She’s now the CEO and owner of Horses Unlimited, a 30-acre sport horse breeding facility in New Mexico that stands several top stallions, many bred by Sparks. She’s produced numerous premium foals, elite mare candidates, approved stallions, inspection champions and performance champions.

In addition to her responsibilities on the farm, Sparks travels frequently to the East Coast to spend time with her sons Zach Whitten, 16, and Caleb Whitten, 14, who live with their father in Massachusetts.

She also logs many miles traveling to horse shows such as Dressage At Devon (Pa.), where in 2008 her stallion Pikko del Cerro HU (Pik L—Rohweena, Rohdiamant) won both FEI 5-year-old classes. He was also top-placed American-bred at the 2008 Markel/USEF National Championships in the 5-year-old division. He was the 2009 USEF/Markel National Young Horse Dressage Champion in the 6-year-old section and took the 2009 stallion championship at Dressage At Devon.

What is your drink of choice?
In the morning, orange juice and coffee. In the evening, Corona with lime!

What was the last book you read?
I wish I could say it was something interesting, but it’s just paperback fiction. Brain candy!

What do you find to be the most ridiculous part of the horse world?

The blinding bling of Welly World.

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
My children.

Where else would you like to live?
New Mexico is my home state, and I love it. I just wish the water wasn’t so hard!

What rider do you most admire?
Ernst Hoyos. He is a true horseman.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My children in life. Pikko del Cerro HU in the horse world.

What do you look for first in a stallion?
The combination of conformation, temperament and athleticism.

In a mare?
How she will complement the stallion.

How do you choose names for the foals?

It is a process. We use the initials of both parents and then keep playing until we come up with something that’s not obscene. It has to fit the baby as well!

What is your greatest fear?
Making Executive Platinum on American Airlines for the seventh year in a row.
 
What changes would you like to see in the breeding world?
That trainers would recognize the importance of breeders and what they can tell you about what you
are buying.

What one item from your wardrobe best personifies you?
Blue jeans.

Where is your favorite place to travel?
Places that are sunny but not too hot!

What is your favorite meal?
Tortilla de patatas.

What item most frequently appears on your credit card statement?
Plane tickets.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the world today?
Ignorance about how we are affecting the planet.

What three things are most likely to be found in your refrigerator at all times?

Water, butter and eggs.

In retrospect, what has been the best decision you’ve made in life?
My decision to spend my junior year of high school in Barcelona.

What characteristic do you value most in a horse?

Trust and honesty.

In a person?
Honesty.

Where will you be in 10 years?
In Albuquerque.

What is your most treasured possession?
My grandfather’s silver horse trophy. I broke the second one riding it as a toddler!

What horse, other than your own, would you most like to own?

That horse has yet to be born. One of two horses, the offspring of Rocher and Pik L or the offspring of Brentina and Leonberg. Imagine those two U.S.-bred babies competing against each other at the Young Horse Championships!

If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it, consider subscribing. "Free Rein With: Anne Sparks" ran in the December 4, 2009 issue. Check out the table of contents to see what great stories are in the magazine this week.

 
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