Q&A: AnnA Buffini
National champion AnnA Buffini on how she found dressage and why she believes in creating her own luck.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is AnnA Buffini. I’m a professional Grand Prix dressage rider. My current competition horse’s name is Davinia aka Diva.
What was your earliest encounter with horses?
My earliest encounter with horses was 15 years ago, when I was 11. I had been in competitive gymnastics up until that age and had to stop the sport due to injuries. I always loved horses and begged my parents for riding lessons. They finally brought me out to a barn that just happened to be a dressage barn. I started riding, fell in love with the sport, and never looked back.
What has been the most unexpected challenge in your training?
The most unexpected challenges in training have been the injuries myself and my horses encounter during our career.
Was there ever a time that you considered leaving the sport?
There were definitely times when it would have been easy to leave the sport, after some unlucky years dealing with the ups and downs of competitive riding, but the factors that always keep me going are how much I love horses and riding and learning. If you just love competition, that’s not going to get you through all the tough times you won’t be competing.
What is your horses's favorite treat or snack?
Diva’s favorite snack is bananas, but I have an older horse that loves French fries!
What has been the greatest act of kindness you’ve received from another rider?
The greatest act of kindness from another rider has to be from my coach Guenter Seidel. He is competing in the Grand Prix himself in my same classes, and he always makes time to coach me, gives me advice, and wants me to compete to the best of my ability.
What do you think is the most important (or underrated) riding exercise? What is your favorite exercise? And what exercise is most difficult?
One of the most underrated and one of my favorite exercises are transitions. The most difficult exercise depends on the horse I’m riding and what is most difficult for them. But the top movements such as pirouettes, piaffe, passage, and tempi changes can all be difficult to perform perfectly.
What has been one of your most humbling moments with horses?
Let me count the ways haha. I’ve gone off course in tests, been eliminated, and have made mistakes in big shows with important people watching. I can honestly say though that the bad rides are what have made me a good rider. I learn so much from mistakes, and I try to learn how not to make them again.
In what ways do you believe riding horses has informed your personal life and behavior?
I’m more patient with life and realize that things always take more time than we plan on. I’m tougher because of the embarrassing moments I’ve fought through. I’ve learned to find things outside of riding that I love, because when your horse life is the hardest part of your life you need an outlet and an escape from the stress sometimes.
Do you have any superstitions around shows?
I don’t have any superstitions. I think that would stress me out too much. I rely more on routines and preparation—I think that’s how you create luck for yourself.
What is the most courageous thing you’ve done — on or off a horse?
Many people do this all the time, but I think starting young horses is always a bit risky and unpredictable. Off of the horse, I had to Irish dance for one of my Dad’s events in front of 6,000 people when I was 13 haha.
What inspires you to continue to learn within the sport?
The goal in dressage is perfection, and none of us are perfect, so we will always have something to keep working towards.
When you’re not riding, you can be found doing…?
I love working out, being with my family, the beach, I’m a worship leader for Church, and of course Netflix.
Is there a movement, organization, or cause that you are involved with? And how can other people get involved?
Horse-wise I‘d love to shout out the Compton JR Posse in LA. They help to keep kids in the saddle and off of the streets. Outside of horses, I support an organization called Operation Underground Railroad. They are active with the rescue and recovery of the 40 million human trafficked people around the world. You can find both programs on Instagram, and you can also Google them.
Lastly, in one or few words, what does horse riding mean to you?
Horse riding has taught me invaluable lessons, brought some of the most incredible people into my life, and helped me become the person I am today. I can only hope that I can give back to the sport and the community that has given so much to me.