As Arabesque trots across the ring, she appears to float. Her movement is so mesmerizing, it’s hard to look away. With gaits like that it’s no surprise “Annie” regularly takes the blue in the under saddle, and her effortless way of going translates over fences as well.
With Clara Propp, the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare (Furstenball—Solar Eclipse, Sir Donnerhall I) owned by Aquitaine Equine recently took the overall 3’6″ grand championship title at the Adequan/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships—East on July 3 in Williamsburg, Michigan, after winning the large junior hunter, 15 and under division. It was the pair’s second consecutive national championship title, having won the overall 3’3″ grand championship last year in Devon, Pennsylvania.
“Last year was actually my first Junior Hunter Finals,” Propp said after the win. “I did the 3’3”, and we were champion and grand champion last year, so this is just really special. I could tell she loves this show. And two years in a row—it was just really cool.”
Watch their handy round from the Adequan/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships—East, courtesy of USEF Network:
Propp’s older sister Stella Propp first noticed the mare competing in the adult hunters with Jordan Allen at 2021 WEF Premier (Florida), and the family purchased her shortly afterward. Annie and Clara had a banner first season, taking championships at Capital Challenge (Maryland), Pennsylvania National and the National Horse Show (Kentucky) in addition to their national championship honors. They also topped the $10,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic at the Hampton Classic (New York), and Clara’s trainer Brianne Goutal-Marteau rode Annie to the grand hunter title at I Love New York.
We went behind the stall door at Brianne Goutal LLC in Wellington, Florida, to get to know Annie better.
• Annie was bred by Nancy Holowesko of Crosiadore Farm in Trappe, Maryland, to be a dressage horse. Under the name Flashdance CF, she finished fifth in the Brilliant Ring in Rastede—the most prestigious Oldenburg mare show in Germany. Ali Potasky showed her as a 4- and 5-year-old, where she scored as high as 82.40% in the 5-year-old test. In 2019 she began her transition to the hunter ring.
• Both of Clara’s older sisters Stella and Juliette ride as well, and often Clara ends up riding horses one or both once showed. But when they purchased Annie, she wasn’t quite ready to step into the 3’6” juniors, so Clara, who was still showing in the 3’3”, got to ride Annie first.
• Annie is a queen, and she knows it! “She’s spoiled but deserves to be,” Clara said. “I like the fact that she knows she’s beautiful. When you get on her, her walk, she struts.”
If Annie were a person, Clara says she’d be Elsa from “Frozen” because “it’s almost like she has super powers.”
• When you’re the queen, surveying your domain is an important part of your duties, and it’s one Annie takes very seriously.
“She is always very alert,” said Clara. “Walking around the paddock, she’ll just stand and stare, literally up to 10 minutes. It’s really cute.”
• Clara said Annie is well-behaved in turnout. She loves being out, but she’s not one you’ll find rough-housing.
• Annie expects plenty of attention, but she’s specific about what kind. Cuddles are good. Kisses, not so much.
“She’s always in the spotlight,” Clara said. “Everyone here loves her.”
• The one thing she’s not a queen about? Food. Clara hasn’t found anything she doesn’t like. She does have one favorite though.
“[During the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida)] at the ring I gave her honey packets, and she’ll lick it out of the packets. She’s very gentle with it. Didn’t try to bite it or anything,” she said. “She loves honey. I give her honey on bananas sometimes. She really likes it. But she’ll eat almost anything, literally.”
• Annie can be picky about where she likes to be touched and groomed. Her favorite spots are along her neck and back.
“When she has braids in, she gets itchy, so she loves if I scratch her braids or right behind her ears,” said Clara.
• Annie is happy to be by herself. She’s not one to have toys or stuffed animals in her stall, and Clara said the mare isn’t a fan of other horses.
“She’ll tolerate it, but getting too close, she’ll pin her ears and try to nip a little,” Clara said. “Once I was in an under saddle, and I got too close to another horse in the line-up, and she squealed. She’ll make noises like that.”
• Annie might know she’s good, but she’s not one to push boundaries.
“She’s a pretty ‘normal’ horse, doesn’t have many quirks,” said Clara. “Very nice to ride. Always accepting of anything.”