By Ellinor Andersson and Anette Sånesson (translation Hillevi Brasch) / SWB
Photography: Pernilla Hägg
Anna Holmgren is the showjumping breeder behind the ‘Of East’ horses. She is a board member of the regional breeding association Ädla Hästen Skaraborg, a member of the SWB board, a member of the SWB breeding committee, and involved in mare and young horse committees.
Anna is originally a computer scientist specializing in economics and business management, but she has also been running her own business for a long time.
Anna has been a dedicated horse enthusiast since she was very young, and the riding school was a crucial part of her life growing up. At age 13 she got her first horse, a Standardbred trotter, which she rode and trained. Her strong interest in showjumping led her to focus on SWB (Swedish Warmblood) horses. In 2004, Anna and her husband Andreas purchased a farm just south of Mariestad in Västergötland, where they now operate Stall of East. However, it wasn’t until 2010 that Anna started the breeding business.
“In 2010, I became seriously ill. I had a stroke and at the same time a major heart issue was discovered so I was prohibited from riding,” she explains. “The surgery to correct my condition didn’t happen until 2012, so I felt the need to replace the joy of riding with something else, and that’s when I turned to breeding horses instead.”
Anna purchased the mare Meryl Streep, who was in foal to Nintender. “Meryl Streep was by Quite Easy x Cardento, and those were stallions I was familiar with. Otherwise, I didn’t know much back then, but I became completely fascinated with breeding. Meryl Streep’s offspring have now competed in the Breeders Trophy, which is incredibly exciting. She was a better mare than I thought, a good start, simply put,” Anna happily shares.
Since buying the farm, Anna and Andreas have expanded from five to around 20 individual stalls as well as three free range pastures with run-in sheds. They also rent space in a neighboring stable to make room for all the horses.
“Breeding started as a side job while we ran our own business. One mare became two, and so on, and eventually we reached a point where we needed to consider if we should fully commit. We had young children then, so there was a lot to consider,” Anna continues.
Stall of East has become Anna and Andreas’s life’s work, job, hobby, and passion all rolled into one, and balancing it all has been a challenge. The boundaries between work and passion are harder to define than with a completely ‘regular’ job. “I owe a lot to my background as an entrepreneur with business development and leadership skills, which I’m humble and grateful to have had the opportunity to learn. It has helped me make tough decisions where you must think more business-minded than emotionally and to see things from an outside perspective. The finances are fundamentally crucial; if there is no capital to breed for, there is no way to develop the business further. The numbers can’t consistently be in the red; they have to turn around. At Stall of East, we produce our own forage, we take in young horses for pasture/free range keeping and training, as well as mares for foaling, so we have several pillars to stand on.”.. To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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