Millions of Americans are gearing up to watch the Kentucky Derby, which is set for its 145th running on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
It’s a race steeped in tradition: Kentucky Derby Hats, mint juleps, the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” and the garland of roses at the Winner’s Circle.
It’s also the first race in the Triple Crown, a title awarded to the 3-year-old thoroughbred that wins the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
For Anne Judd, a horsewoman who lives in Lutz, however, the Kentucky Derby’s meaning runs deeper.
She has a personal connection to the race.
Her great-grandfather George Long owned Bashford Manor Stable, that bred and raced Azra, the winner of the Derby in 1892, and Sir Huon, the winner in 1906. Long also bred Manuel, the winner of the 1899 Derby for Alfred and Dave Morris.
It may come as no surprise, then, that Judd — herself a highly recognized horsewoman — came to the equestrian life naturally.
The first four years of her childhood were spent at Bashford Manor and, during high school, she gave tours there.
She began riding before she was 4, and began showing at age 4.
Throughout her life, she’s traveled across the country — and abroad — showing horses, training horses and judging competitions.
Over the years, she’s won significant recognition for her work in the horse industry.
Most recently, in February, she was named the American Morgan Horse Association’s 2018 Golden Reins Award winner at the association’s annual awards banquet in San Antonio, Texas.
The award, instituted in 1995, recognizes professionals involved with the Morgan breed for at least 30 years.
The American Morgan Horse Association, founded in 1909, is a nonprofit organization that serves as a parent organization to more than 50 recognized Morgan horse clubs and national organizations.
In announcing Judd’s award, the association observed: “Judd has spent her life working in the horse industry, with her successes spanning four decades.
“Most noted for combining the amateur/junior exhibitor rider and the correct horse to accomplish a world-class package, Judd has long been successful with the Saddle Seat divisions, with her students excelling in Saddle Seat Equitation. She has trained some of the best equitation riders in the country, and in recent years has taken on the Hunter and Western Pleasure divisions, yet again producing world champion riders in both performance and in all equitation seats.
“Judd’s judging credentials are as diverse as her training expertise. A sought-after senior judge, she holds cards for Morgans, Saddlebreds, Hackneys, Friesians, Saddle Seat Equitation, and Roadsters,” the release continues.
“She has judged across the country, including multiple times at the Grand National and, in 2017, judged the South African National Championships. A noted clinician, she has lent her expertise to clinics in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, South Africa and Namibia, and has appeared on professional panels for USEF, UPHA and ASHA, among others.
“She has trained and managed facilities in Florida, California, Kentucky, and helped found and create the International Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup, which equates to the Olympics of Saddle Seat Equitation,” the release says.
Judd is now the head show horse trainer at West Coast Morgans, which operates in Odessa.
Anne Winograd, who owns the farm, said Judd is worthy of receiving the Golden Reins.
“It is a big deal,” Winograd said.
“There are lots of people in the horse world that are capable and amazing and talented, but they don’t always contribute to the community. That is one thing that Miss Anne Judd has done during her lifetime. She’s always given back to the community, in one way or another.
“She does that on an international level. She’s a renowned judge. She’s traveled. She’s instituted international equestrian programs in South Africa,” Winograd said.
The Odessa horse farm owner, who established West Coast Morgans along with her husband, Glenn, is delighted to have someone of Judd’s caliber on their team.
She said Judd has an “amazing, positive attitude.”
“Her expertise is profound,” Winograd added.
“She’s not just a horsewoman in one area or two. Her horsemanship covers levels from beginning through advanced, horses and their riders,” she said.
For her part, Judd said her life has given her the chance to travel; to expand her knowledge about horses, people and places throughout the world; and, to develop deep friendships along the way.
Over the years, she’s been a private trainer and has run her own business.
For many years, she and her husband worked together. Then, after they were divorced, she went to South Africa to work.
She figured, “If I’m going to fall on my face, I’ll do it in South Africa and nobody will know.”
Instead of failing, she flourished.
“It was an absolutely fabulous experience for me.
“I loved South Africa. It was eye-opening,” she said.
A few years ago, she returned to South Africa with her daughter and granddaughter. Their adventures included riding on elephants and going for a walk with some lion cubs.
If Judd was writing her own story, she said, “I would say that it’s been a great ride.”
She wound up in her current role, after returning to Florida.
She brought her horse, Belle, to West Coast Morgans to protect her during hurricane season. “I knew it was a shelter barn,” Judd said.
At a certain point, Winograd approached Judd and suggested the idea of her joining the stable’s team.
Judd credits the success she enjoys now to the team she works with at West Coast Morgans, including Winograd and Nancy Lawrence, Nikki Bennet, John Hodson and Diane Tanguay.
And, while she’s won her share of accolades over the years, she was particularly touched by the Golden Reins award.
When she started showing Morgans, she thought she might be shunned because she was a newcomer to the breed. Instead, she said, she encountered an “open-minded, gracious group of people.
“It’s the most welcoming, helpful group of everything — trainers, exhibitors, the staffers, the whole deal,” Judd said.
She was especially impressed by the way the Morgan community responded, when a friend of hers experienced a horse trailer fire while en route to a Morgan world championship.
He was able to get his horses out of the trailer, but one was severely injured and had to be put down, she said.
After that, he eventually made it to the site of championship.
When he arrived, Judd and another woman were waiting for him.
Judd was blown away by what happened next.
This is the type of event when people are very focused on themselves and their horses, she said.
“This is career-making. You’re inside yourself,” she explained.
But here it was, and the Morgan community was looking beyond their personal interests, to help someone in need, she said.
“All of a sudden, it was like a movie. People came out of buildings everywhere, at midnight.
“The stalls were bedded, they had buckets up, they had water in them. They had feed there. “They didn’t know what (horses) survived the trip.
“Everything was ready for the horses to unload,” Judd said.
She’ll never forget that.
“I like a great horse of any discipline,” Judd said. “What I’m overwhelmed with, though, is the community and the helpfulness to this kid — when their pressure was so great.”
Published May 01, 2019