At just 25 years of age, Anna Wilks has been called upon to make some tough decisions as an equestrian. First, it was whether to continue in the field of eventing, in which she had some great results, or switch over to show jumping. She chose the latter. Second, whether to continue to compete under the home-grown flag of Great Britain or adopt her father’s native Canada. Again, she chose the latter.Originally from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire and a rider from an early age at her grandparents’ farm, Wicks did eventing for about six years and won a gold medal at the Junior European Championships on Touch of Pleasure. At that time, she was training under Pippa and William Funnell in Surrey.
“When I decided to leave that job, I moved back to my family farm with my mom, my dad and my brother,” she explained. “I got dragged back into the show jumping world.”
One of those who did the ‘dragging’ was her older brother Tim.
She said, “They were going to Spain for show jumping and they convinced me to go, they’d give me a horse. I went to the show in Spain and it was lovely and sunny and had beautiful rings. I was used to a muddy field in the rain in England in eventing. So that sold me over to the show jumping side.
“I tried to do both at the same time, a year of eventing and show jumping, but in the end I had to pick which one I wanted to do. When you want to be at the top of the level, you have to put your whole focus into it. So I decided to make the switch.”
As to riding under the maple leaf, Wilks says there were various reasons, again involving Tim.
“My brother made the switch a few years back,” she pointed out, “and he had so much good to say about competing under the Canadian flag and the Canadian federation and things like that. Also, when I was moving out to the States, it seemed to make more sense for me, location wise. I have a lot of family in Canada and it seemed like the right thing to do.”
The 10-year-old mare named Ma Pomme de Tamerville is her top partner right now and is owned by IN Showjumpers, her parents’ company. Tim Wilks, 27, also rides many of the family’s horses.
“She’s an amazing competitive horse,” Wilks described. “Unfortunately, the business we’re in, all of my horses are for sale. I’ve had three here and I’ve sold two of them. She’s my latest one out here. She’s super competitive. She hasn’t had a fence down since she’s been here. She’s a really good horse and I hope to keep here a little bit longer.”
Wilks will stay in Wellington until May. After that, she will follow Dello Joio to Kentucky while hoping to bring a few more horses over from Europe. Then Michigan is in the plans, as is Spruce Meadows in the summer.
“It’s something I’m really excited about,” she admitted of the iconic Calgary venue. “Everyone says it’s just the most amazing place. I know Norman has had a lot of success there when he was younger and he goes each year. Obviously my brother went a few years back and he didn’t want to leave.”
Wilks’ objectives are similar to all riders in her age group and she is ready and willing to go to whatever lengths she must to make at least some of those a reality.
“I want to be at the top of the sport,” she stated. “I dream of the Olympics and all the big grand prix. I would like to be in the business, too, the buying and selling. I want to be the type of rider that isn’t just focused on myself. Yes, my career is very important and I want to be at the top level, but … I don’t come from a particularly wealthy family so I want to be able to make a name in the business world, as well.
“I’ve put myself forward to hopefully be selected for the Nations’ Cup here in Florida. That would be one of my biggest aims ‒ that’s what I’m really striving for this year.”