I got a chance to meet Ann when I went out to Canterbury Park for the Claiming Crown (which was excellent and you can read about that on my track diaries page, link on the links page). Ann was super nice and I got her on the phone shortly thereafter and here is what she said:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
AVR: I was born in Germany.
FOTH: DO you have any brothers or sisters?
AVR: Yeah I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters that are older than me and nobody is into racing. (laughs)
FOTH: How long did you live over in Germany before you came here to the states?
AVR: I came over about 8 years ago in 1998. I was in England and Italy too. I spent most of my life in Germany.
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up? Were you a tomboy like most of the other female riders?
AVR: I had a pony, but I was not a tomboy.
FOTH: What did your family thing when you became a jockey? Were they supportive of it?
AVR: My family has always been supportive, but they are not too keen of it, but they support me. It's whatever I want to do.
FOTH: Was there any reason or reasons that made you come to the United States and what state did you 1st come too?
AVR: Lexington, Kentucky. I didn't come over here to become a jockey, it sort of just worked out that way. I was a vet assistant, then an assistant trainer, and then I just started riding and that's how it worked out.
FOTH: Did it feel very natural getting up on a horse? Was it pretty easy for you to become a jockey?
AVR: Well I galloped gorse in England, France and Italy, but it very different here. It was very hard.
FOTH: Tells us about your 1st race. Was that at Churchill Downs?
AVR: No, I just exercised horses in Kentucky. I got my license in Tampa and I rode my 1st race at Tampa Bay Downs. I don't remember much about the race. I made the course. (much laughter). Nothing too exciting. It was a safe horse and after the race I went to train in South Dakota and that is where I raced in a "bush" track in South Dakota. That is where I learned how to ride.
FOTH: So you didn't stay long down at Tampa Bay Downs now did you?
AVR: No I didn't. I got my license and spent a couple months there and then I went to South Dakota for a trainer and rode the 'bush" track there and he goes to Canterbury Downs and I still ride for him now.
FOTH: Tell us a bit about your 1st win.
AVR: My 1st win was at a "bush" track in South Dakota. It was great and I won quite a few there. My 1st win on regular track came on a quarter horse at Canterbury Park. The "bush' track win was a speed horse and he took to the front and we never looked back.
FOTH: Looking back, do you think you were a pretty good apprenticeship rider?
AVR: I think I did ok, but I never had an agent. I do my own work and I work really hard in the morning.
FOTH: After you first win did you get pelted with stuff after the race?
AVR: Yes. They did a little bit.
FOTH: I know your riding at Canterbury Park and I am coming out there for the Claiming Crown this year, is that your pretty much home track that you ride at?
AVR: Yeah that is my home track and it is my 5th year here.
FOTH: Where do you go when Canterbury is closed?
AVR: Last year I went to Turf Paradise and I'll be going again back there this year.
FOTH: Do you notice a difference in the 2 tracks?
AVR: There is a lot more speed down at Turf Paradise. It is a very speed biased track. A lot of the same riders go ride there too.
FOTH: Is Turf Paradise and Canterbury Park acceptive of female riders?
AVR: Yes, but I find it easier at Turf Paradise than Canterbury Park.
FOTH: Do you ride quarter horse races at Canterbury as well?
FOTH: Do you notice a big difference in the 2?
AVR: It is completely different. On a quarter horse, you just go. On a thoroughbred you have to think a little and think ahead. Quarter you just go straight. Hopefully (laughs) The quarter horse people are a lot easier to deal with I know that.
FOTH: DO you get along with the other girls at Canterbury, Helen Vanek, Shannon Uske and Jo Black?
AVR: Yeah we get along. There is a good atmosphere in the room.
FOTH: Have you had any serious injuries at all?
AVR: No not race riding. I have been injured, but not race riding.
FOTH: How much longer would you want to ride for?
AVR: As long as I enjoy it and I hope quite a few more years.
FOTH: Have you been to the Mall of America?
AVR: I have been there once or twice. It is huge. Just too many people for me. (laughs)
FOTH: Have you been to the casino area of the racetrack and just walked though there?
AVR: No I never been there. I know lots of people go there.
FOTH: Are there any hobbies or things you do when your away from the race track?
AVR: I workout and I take my dog for walks. I like to be outside if the weather is nice and just relax and try to catch up on stuff on dark days (a dark day is a day when there is NO live racing at the host track-chris) and that's about it.
FOTH: Take us through what you do in a typical day?
AVR: I get up between 4:30 am and 5:00 am and I walk my dog and then I get to the track about 5:30 am as the track opens at 5:45 am and I get up for my boss and I usually get up between 5 and 8 horses before the 1st break and between the 2 breaks I average 10-12 horses per day. I am usually done by 9:30 am and then I come home and try to take a nap (i called her and woke her up too ha ha-chris) and then I ride.
FOTH: What advice would you give a young girl if she wanted to become a jockey?
AVR: If she really wants to do it, go ahead, but she needs to know from the start it is gonna be tough and frustrating. She will just have to on ahead and go for it. That is what I did. Just have some back up. Don't throw away school and your education just to become a jockey. Make sure you have something to fall back on.
FOTH: Ann, I am out of questions. Anything you want to say to wrap this up?
AVR: Just good luck with the website Chris.