the Stock
and Tails

27 July 2016

Born in Warsaw, Poland, Anna Campanella’s equestrian career was ignited by her winning two silver medals at the 1994 Polish Championships in Dressage.

After moving to Italy 4 years later, Anna has since been climbing the ranks in the Dressage world and is now the Athlete’s Representative for Dressage at the FEI. 

We went to her home to look at little more at the woman behind the athlete…


Anna, can you remember a moment that you fell in love with horses? 

I do not remember that particular moment. It was since I was very small. I always liked all kinds of horses and all disciplines.

You have a daughter, Alice, who is also very competitive in the dressage world. Has your own childhood experiences influenced her love for horses?

My parents were never interested in my equestrian career until my individual Olympic qualification. When I was young, I had to work hard from the beginning to even start riding lessons. I remember I had to change two busses to get to the school and, once there, I had to work harder to be able to compete. Because of all that, I know how difficult it is to do it all by yourself—that’s why I try to give all the support I can to Alice because I know how challenging it can be to do it alone. I enjoy going with her to competitions and watching her perform. 

Horses are beautiful athletes.  
They always come first, and then we rest!

Not too bad, as we all love horses. We have the house near the stable, so it’s never been a problem. Horses always come first and then rest! 


Can you walk us through a typical day in your life? 

I wake up early and start to ride at 7:30am. I like to put bandages on the horses’ legs myself, so I can see if everything is okay. I ride till 12:30 or 1pm and then we have lunch. Usually I teach in the afternoon or look for new horses. 


What do you think some of the challenges are that the dressage world is facing right now? 

The world is changing very quickly. The dressage world is certainly growing and some of the systems that were good years ago need to be reviewed again. It is a big responsibility to make changes, support them, and defend the essence of the sport. Essentially, dressage should be seen as a sport—not as an expensive hobby. 


What are some of your goals as a member of the Athletes’ Committee? 

From the beginning, my goal has been to support all levels of the sport in all age groups. Often, the attention is concentrated only on a few riders that win. However, the sport would not be the sport without all the thousands of riders, without smaller, local competitions, and certainly not without young riders. We really need to highlight youth dressage riders because they are the future of the sport.


NOTE: The FEI Athletes Committee was created in 2014 and is made up of one Athlete Representative per discipline – they work together on their common issues and also sit on their respective discipline committees to ensure the athletes have a voice within the global decision making process.

The Athlete Representatives are all top level sportspeople having competed at recent Olympic and/or World Championship level and they are elected by their peers – athletes that have also recently competed at Olympic and/or World Championship level.

As the term is for four years and non-re-eligible, the process is back in swing in 2018 with an initial nominations phase where athletes can submit their candidacies followed by an online voting phase. For more information, go to Inside.FEI


“Every day is full of excitement and magic that comes from the work of dressage. The feeling of looking for perfection is unique.”

For non-dressage enthusiasts can you tell us what you love about this sport?

I realize that dressage may sometimes may be nicer to practice than to watch. As a rider, I always try to train the horse—improve the quality of the gaits and the way they perform. I love watching horses get better. Short-term improvements in my horses keep me motivated, even if it sometimes means one step forward and two steps back. Horses are beautiful athletes and it is wonderful to see how the riders of each level can bring them to great performances.


Besides training and competing, what do you like to do in your free-time? 

In my free time I like to travel and read books.


Any advice for Dressage riders out there hoping to one day make it to the Olympic Games?

I would like to say to all riders to keep trying—always. The rider can be only as good as his horse is, but luck is sometimes just around the corner… 


Coffee or tea? Coffee


Besides horses, what's one thing you can't live without?     I can not live without baths. 


Favorite place you've traveled?     St. Kitts Island. 


What’s a saying or quote that you live by?     You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. 


Last movie you saw?     Maybe For You.


Text by Kat Neis

Photography by Bram Bellloni for FEI