Senior Lilly Anthes competes on national equestrian level


Eric DeWitt

FOCUSED: Senior Lilly Anthes rides her horse, Donnie, while scanning the area during a show. Anthes is an accomplished equestrian who competes on at the national level and regularly travels the country to compete against the best of her age.

1, 2. 1, 2. 3, 2, 1. Jump. 

Just like practice. Body in line, weight forward. 

1, 2. 1, 2. 3, 2, 1. Jump. 

She catches a glimpse of a 0 and is disappointed, an 80 out of 100 is by no means bad, still though, she was hoping for better, but as the crowd shifts and a distant onlooker moves their head the first number is revealed. 

She’s scored a 90.

Starstruck, she leans over to embrace her partner and plant a kiss on his cheek. Anthes just completed the ride of her life, securing a 90 out of 100. And her partner? A horse named Donnie. 

Anthes is a national level equestrian who regularly travels across the country to show her horses. She competes on the A Circuit and AA Circuit, which are the highest levels. The Kentucky National Horse show took place the weekend of Sept. 16-20 in Lexington Kentucky. Here, Anthes placed first in her division while simultaneously setting a personal record of 90. 

“I was leaving the ring and I was kind of like, wow that was really good and I was super happy with myself, and then I realized how good it actually was and it’s the best feeling,” Anthes said. That was probably the best round I’ve ever had with [Donnie]. He’s my main horse who I love a lot.”

Anthes started her riding journey at age seven after trying a variety of other sports, none of which fit her personality. Riding didn’t always click either though.

“Actually the first time I rode a horse I was terrified, I never wanted to do it again,” Anthes said. “And then I gave it a second chance and I guess I’ve grown more to like it over the years.”

And through those years, Anthes has ridden horses who are calm, cool and relaxed, those who are high strung and nervous and others still who make sport of biting. She’s also learned how to control her horse, body and mind as one once she enters the ring. 

“It’s just like I’m practicing pretty much, that’s how I treat it,” Anthes said. “I don’t normally get too nervous. I’m pretty good at tuning everything out and just focusing on myself.”

One of the strategies Anthes uses to tune everything out is to only focus on three things each race. Sometimes her targets are the same, and sometimes not, the day she set her personal record though, they were to concentrate on her position, rhythm and always looking where she was going. 

Having a strong mentality is what has and will continue to lead her to such success, but it all must stem from somewhere. Anthes says she gets it from her parents. 

“My dad is a mountain biker and he knows how to prepare for competitions like that and he always has been really helpful,” Anthes said. “My mom was a figure skater and so she also has some really good advice about sports and preparing and everything.”

Athletic talent and positive mindsets seem to run in the family. Anthes’ older brother Max used to compete at the national level for skiing and he also has it. Anthes says when she was considering quitting equestrian he was the one who reminded her what she’d already accomplished and what she still hoped to achieve.

And as for reaching those goals, she has a solid plan. 

Anthes plans to early graduate in January, take a gap year and hopefully get into either the University of South Carolina or the University of Georgia in fall 2022, both of which are big equestrian schools. There she aspires to continue her riding journey. She’s already begun the process of reaching out to colleges. 

For right now though, Anthes’ main focus is a healthy body. 

“I work out every day, I don’t miss it,” Anthes said. “[My dad] always has been really helpful with creating my workout routines. I also have a nutritionist who came up with a routine for me.”

Anthes can be found in her basement every single day, working towards her dreams. Among her exercises are a variety of planks and ab workouts. Anthes says this is because the core is a rider’s base. To strengthen her legs, she rides her horses without the stirrups.

“It’s hard work,” Anthes said. “But it’s worth it.”