Dressage champion, Anna Buffini has had a successful career. That success has been coupled with her and her horse’s fair share of hurdles. In 2014, Buffini won her first National Championship with Sundayboy. Her success continued in 2016 with a win at the U.S Under 25 Championships. She not only garnered the top spot, but also runner-up spot with her other horse, Wilton II, something that has never been done before at the National level of competition. But between those wins, her horse Sundayboy got hurt. When we talked with Buffini in 2017, she shared about how she has overcome the obstacles in her life and how her faith in Christ has influenced her as a professional athlete.
Buffini opens up about some of the obstacles she has had to overcomes as an athlete and in her personal life.
“Well horses are athletes too. So literally right after that first Nationals win, we went to another National Championship and Sundayboy got hurt. We had to pull him out even though we were the favorite to win. The next year, he was injured the whole entire year. So, 2015 was a scratch. The silver lining was we got to do two shows that year at the Olympic level because we weren’t in the normal competitions. That was awesome and we got to learn to ride the Grand Prix. But even still, it was really hard not to be able to compete. Everybody looks in from the outside and thinks it’s easy and we’re just winning; it’s not that easy on the inside. Every day I’m watching out for Sundayboy’s injuries; every day we have to take it easy. We weren’t even able to practice the things were going to do in competition. It’s like going out to play in an NFL game without being able to run through any plays the week before. This is even after switching trainers last year to Guenter Seidel. He not only has won three Olympic Medals but he also used to own Sundayboy. He was really helpful in teaching me how to keep the horse healthy while I worked him. So even though it was a challenge, we learned to get the right help. Another hardship that I’ve had to grow a lot through, is hearing hurtful, rude and gossipy things other people say about you. I receive a lot of love from people’s words so hearing the critics was a really big challenge. It hurts a lot and I would take it to heart. I would hear things like, ‘You’re spoiled and it comes easy for you.’ Or, ‘You don’t work hard.’ And, ‘You won’t win again.’ I really had to learn to get over what people were saying and forgive. I ultimately developed a very, very short memory which helped a lot. This can also be a very lonely road too. Being a professional athlete, especially in this sport, we skip proms, we don’t have boyfriends, your friends are rare and they are really spread out. Chances are they are working that horse life too. So, when you do find a good friend in the horse world, you have to put in a lot of effort to maintain that.”
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:3-5
Buffini shares how her faith in Christ has influenced her as an athlete.
“I think if you really embody the Christian life then it should influence everything. It shouldn’t be like; this is my faith when I’m angry on the basketball court. No. It should be when you’re putting your jersey on, to when you’re taking your shoes off at the end of the day. You should be a faithful person from beginning to end. It should come out everywhere. Even simple things to be faithful with. Getting out of bed. Being on time. It’s really simple, but it’s huge. Then being a person of character around your teammates and coworkers especially if things go wrong. When things go wrong, when my horse goes lame, you don’t see me lose it and start cussing people out and lose all hope. You stay chill. You keep praying. You stay hopeful. You treat the conflict in a way that honors God. I think if you totally lose it, and lose faith, it show that you don’t trust God enough! You’re clearly not spending enough time in the Word and you’re not trusting Him. Pastor Rick Warren says that, ‘Not trusting God is a type of atheism.’ I need to trust God for my horse to be healed, or for any of my critics to be forgiven. This has given me the strength to truly sit with people, talk it out and move on.”
Overcome your hurdles. Each of us will face hurdles in our lives. For some, the hurdles will seem easy and for others they may seem impossible. God has given us several powerful things to overcome the hurdles of life including the Holy Spirit, the Bible and fellowship with other believers. Pray and ask God to strengthen you with His Holy Spirit and give you the wisdom needed for the situation you are going through. Read through the Bible and see how characters who faced similar trials responded. Ask your friends, family, small group or church to help you overcome your hurdle. It can be a humbling experience to ask others for help, but God created us to help one another.
Be an influencer for Christ. It can be easy to be swayed by peer pressure. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, pornography or cheating a client and not having integrity in the workplace, we are constantly faced with opportunities to turn away from Christ. Instead, God wants us to represent Him in those decisions and through our character. If you are having trouble, ask a friend or small group member to hold you accountable. You may have to avoid certain situations or people for a period of time.
Use your setbacks to motivate you. Everyone will face adversity at one point or another in their lives. God does not promise that our lives will be easy, but He does promise us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Joshua 1:5). When faced with conflict or a hard season, ask God for how he wants you to approach it. It can be helpful to ask others who may have gone through something similar for wisdom and guidance too. Then after you have gone through the situation, use the opportunity to share what you have learned with others.
To read our entire interview with Anna Buffini, click here.