Decades after she’d competed as a junior equestrienne, a then 36-year-old Anne Finch found herself in Florida as a regional marketing director for Estée Lauder, putting in long hours and yearning for a respite from the daily grind. “I drove past a show stable on the way to my office one day. The sights, beauty and smell brought joy and memories from my youth,” she recalls. “I drove over, walked in, next thing I knew I was an owner.”
Twelve years later, Finch has risen to the top of the adult amateur ranks in an equitation specialty in which she and her horse are judged on a set number of jumps based on technical accuracy, style and positioning. Last year, Finch bested 28 other riders to win the prestigious Ariat National Adult Medal Finals at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “It meant the culmination of all my hard work. It was about reaching a goal and sharing it with my mom,” says Finch.
To the untrained observer, Finch’s mastery of equitation appears effortless. At the Capital Challenge, she looked poised and natural riding the 14-year- old chocolate-and-white horse W.C. Swing. However, atop a horse as well as at her job, victories are the product of extensive preparation—she rides six days a week to practice for competitions —and strategic decisions.
Finch acknowledges perfecting her sport can occasionally amount to self- torture, but she prefers to think of it as “character building.” Although tough practices have led to wins, collecting trophies isn’t her main goal. “I’m never worried about winning. I’m worried about doing the right thing,” she says. “When I go in the ring to compete, I want to do well. If I don’t win, I want to know what I could have done better. I watch people who are really good. If someone beats me who is really good, I’m so impressed.”
Finch’s love of horses dates back to age six, when she started riding in the Santa Barbara area where she was raised. She remembers feeling exhilarated, not scared, upon jumping for the first time. “I was like, ‘I want to jump more! I want to jump every day!’” she exclaims. At seven, Finch began competing, and says she learned an important lesson in those early days from a trainer who was adamant she respect and care for horses. “She really wanted to teach us responsibility,” says Finch.
As an adult, riding has become a critical outlet for dealing with life’s stresses beyond the ring, and has given Finch a sense of accomplishment. “The fact that I went back, and I did it all on my own and learned how to do everything, I was quite proud,” she says.
Finch’s passion for horses is evident in Katherine Cosmetics, a luxury makeup brand she founded that officially launches in August using a direct-sales model à la Avon. Brown leather saddles and silver stirrups inspired the brand’s packaging, and Finch tested all of the formulas herself during competitions and practice to ensure they withstood sweat, grime and wear. The line consists of five core products that she believes are all a woman needs to look healthy and polished during any activity. “I saw a need for a simple routine that is natural looking and just makes you look better,” Finch says, “in a way that isn’t trying too hard to stand out, but does it naturally with confidence and authenticity.”