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“Just Keep Riding!”


By Allison Lail

On Friday, September 22, 2017, friends, students, alumni, and faculty celebrated the 32-year career of Anne Brzezicki,MTSU’s Director of Equestrian Programs, at a retirement dinner on the MTSU campus. Anne is described by her students as an exceptional coach and teacher, and she is beloved and respected by her colleagues.

Several speakers took their turns telling of their experiences with Anne over the years. They included: Jane Stanfield, Alumna NARHA, IAHA; Sarah Elder Chabot, 4-H, ISHA and AQHA champion rider; Dr. Doyle Meadows, Tennessee Extension Horse Specialist (retired); Kim Stewart Burritt, Alumna, ISHA and AQHA Champion rider; Corinne Gould, Alumna, Asst. Commissioner for Public Affairs, Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture; Beth Ann Floersch, Record-holding AQHA rider; Becky Huddleston, President IHSA Zone 5, Region 1; IHSA Founder & President Bob Caccione, who spoke by video; Dr. Tom Cheatham, former Dean, Basic & Applied Sciences; Dr. Dave Whitaker, Director, MTSU Horse Science (retired); and then Anne had her chance to speak.

At 67, Anne saw it was “a good time to transition” when she retired in May of this year. The reins of the program have been handed to Ariel Herrin, one of her former students and world championship rider.

Through the thrills and spills, triumphs and treasures, adventures, travels, life lessons, accomplishments and failures, Anne Brzezicki has touched, influenced, taught, and coached many of the horse people in Tennessee and surrounding states. If you have been on the MTSU Equestrian Team, ridden in her class, in 4-H, in TQHA Shows, on the Judging Team, chances are you have a story to tell of riding adventures. We can all take an Anne quote as life advice, as well as in the arena. “Just keep riding!” No matter how big the buck, head down in the dirt, or refusals, keep striding forward with your goal!

If you have ever sat in Anne’s class, stood on the side of the arena, or sat on a horse in her lesson, chances are you have heard the three important points in her teaching about riding horses: 1. Head and neck are balancers. 2. Horses lean to the inside of a circle. 3. Impulsion comes from behind.

Anne Brzezicki grew up with the Connecticut 4-H Horse program, showing hunters in AHSA and 4-H, rode on the University of Connecticut Equestrian Team, and after graduation, taught and co-coached the UConn Equestian Team. Anne first came to MTSU to teach in August 1976 and started the MTSU Equestrian Team in 1977. MTSU hosed the 1979 IHSA Nationals, introducing Western Horsemanship to IHSA Nationals and AQHA as a first time sponsor. In the fall 1979, Anne moved to Blacksburg, Virginia to teach at Virginia Tech. Later she moved to Florida to work for Andy Moorman as a teaching and breeding manager, and then returned to Tennessee to start her own teaching/training/ breeding business in Murfreesboro. The horses she bred, trained, or showed and the people she taught won numerous awards, honors, and world championship titles.

Returning to MTSU in 1989, she coached the MTSU Equestrian Team to numerous Regional, Zones, Semi Finals, the first Western National Champion for MTSU, several Reserve and National Champions, and leading High Point Riders in the nation. She supported the Tennessee horse industry, finding ways to advance and grow the equestrian program and Equestrian Team at MTSU – and expected nothing in return. She has been a tremendous asset to IHSA, Tennessee 4-H Horse Advisory, AQHA, AQHYA, TQHA, TWHOA, Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, Tennessee Arabian Horse Association, WHOA, and more.

In 2003, Anne received the Lifetime Achievement Award from IHSA, and in 2004 was named IHSA Regional Coach of the Year. On September 23, 2017 she received the honor of having the Horse Science Arena, located next to the Tennessee Miller Coliseum, dedicated as the Anne Brezezicki Arena.

Anne believes her greatest successes are those accomplished by her students. She has generously invested her life in her students. Anne is a person of passion and devotion, and she has many coaching quotes that apply not only the arena, but also life. “Don’t do something you don’t like,” she advised. How often do we make ourselves do something we may not like? If you don’t like it after you try it, change it! “Go forward!” she said. “Keep the rhythm.” We all got occasional criticism, especially when you did something Anne knew you could do better.

Anne believes that “Success comes from action.” Success comes through persistence, learning from every situation, and helping others. Her best advice is: Always Have Fun!

Anne Brzezicki and Dr. Dave Whitaker worked seamlessly together in the MTSU Horse Science Program. These two had the devotion, passion, and selflessness to find ways to help students and the horse program to grow. As Dave says, “When you find your talent, make a living at it. When you find that passion, you will be happy.” Anne has found her passion and willingness to share with others who want to learn.

Thank you all who came to celebrate an exquisite character with a night of stories, life lessons, and memories! Thank you Michael Brzezicki for all your support to Anne!

About the author: Allison Lail came to MTSU from a background of eventing, hunter and dressage shows; she is a Pony Club HA graduate. Her freshman year at MTSU she joined the Equestrian Team. She had never ridden western seat in her life, but through Anne’s coaching, her freshman year she qualified at IHSA Regionals, was among the top three to go to Zones, and was one of the top two MTSU western riders at Zones qualify for IHSA Nationals. At IHSA Nationals, she became the first IHSA National Western Horsemanship Champion rider for MTSU, winning the Advanced Western Horsemanship division.

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