Hilda Gurney is an active competitor, breeder, trainer, judge and a tireless supporter of dressage. She was also involved in founding the California Dressage Society. Known for her attention to detail and perfection, Gurney won the team bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal with her self-trained horse, Keen. The duo returned for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and Keen was later inducted into the U.S. Dressage Federation Hall of Fame.
Name: Hilda Gurney
Home Base: Moorpark, Calif.
What is your most marked characteristic?
A good work ethic.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Riding in the Olympics [in 1976 and 1984].
If you weren’t riding, where would you be?
Gosh, I don’t know…there’s a million things I’d be doing, but it would probably involve animals or children.
What is your greatest regret?
I don’t have any.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Riding my horse.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A lot older because I’m old already! Probably still riding horses, although I ride 16 to 20 a day so maybe by then it’ll be down to 10 to 15 a day.
What is the best quality in a human?
The desire to care about other humans and animals, to have some kind of responsibility for others.
What is the best quality in a horse?
The desire to work and to please.
What is your great extravagance?
My horses, of course.
If you could come back as a person or thing, what would it be?
I wouldn’t be a horse…maybe a bird?
What’s in your fridge?
Not a whole lot of food—I never have time to go to the market. Milk, orange juice, and good old Lean Cuisine in the freezer.
Jack Russells, yes or no?
No! They kill too many things. You let them loose and minutes later they come back with a rabbit. I like my rabbits. I have a miniature Schnauzer and a Dachshund.
If you could ride any horse, who would it be?
My own horse—Luminence.
What word or phrase do you most often overuse?
What do you most dislike in the horse world?
Any time a cruelty happens.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
I like to be home best, but I like traveling to Europe.
Which is your favorite horse show?
Probably Aachen (Germany).
What do you value most in your friends?
That they really care about their horses, and they’re honest.
Who are some of your favorite riders today?
Courtney King-Dye, Debbie McDonald and Steffen Peters.
What is your most treasured possession?