When Ann Oberhaus finishes work at the MU Provost’s Office about 5:30 p.m., she has horses on her mind. Every day she drives 30 minutes from Columbia to her home near Boonville. Within 15 minutes, she heads out for the barn to her nine Holsteiner and Oldenburg horses, where she spends the next four hours training her equine athletes for dressage. She doesn’t leave the riding arena of her 100-acre farm before 10 p.m.
Her interest in riding was sparked at a very young age. Oberhaus has been on horseback since she was 2, thanks to her parents, who both rode and competed. Her favorite horse is Lizianthus, the highest scoring Oldenburg mare in North America in 1999.
“It’s hard to maintain the trainings seven days a week now,” she said. “Dressage horses are like human athletes. They need to work every day.”
Oberhaus, 36, has been the provost’s assistant at MU since 2002, working first for Brady Deaton and now for Lori Franz. An MU graduate herself, she won several national riding awards in high school and college. Later, her interest shifted to dressage — an equestrian sport focused on the obedience and physical elegance of the horse.
“Dressage is a lot like academic science,” she said.
The process is linear, consists of a progression of steps and requires research on breeding and training. She hosted four dressage clinics this year, flying in expert riders from Ohio and Oregon to serve as clinicians. Oberhaus plans to bring in one of Europe’s top young horse trainers whom she met in Warendorf, Germany, where she spent the summer with her husband.
“I want to learn riding better,” she said. “It’s a steep learning curve.”