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Jim and Kris Cooper opened Anchorage Farm (AF) as a bed and breakfast in 1996, although Jim has operated an equestrian facility at this location continuously since 1981. Kris joined him in 1985. Jim and Kris learned about B&Bs when they guided people on overnight horse trips from AF to destination B&Bs. Learn more about Jim and Kris’s individual backgrounds below.
Jim grew up in a Detroit suburb, Huntington Woods. A lifelong lover of nature and animals, Jim earned a BS degree from Michigan State University in wildlife conservation in 1966. From 1967-1981 he served as a wildlife interpreter for the Porcupine Mountain State Park in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan. Jim’s handiwork, seen throughout Anchorage Farm, is the result of Jim’s Dad’s encouragement and the skills he later learned working in the state park system.
Jim built his first equestrian center outside Ontonagon, Michigan, while he worked at Porcupine Mountain. Jim’s wife, Sierra Dall, then known as Phyllis Cooper, was a lifelong horse lover. She persuaded Jim to join her in the study of dressage. Jim met our current clinician, Fred Kappler, when the three of them took dressage lessons from Jann Jannsen, former head horse trainer of the Queen of Holland. Jim attributes much of his knowledge of horses, horse training and stable management to this now-deceased Dutch gentleman.
Jim, Phyllis and Fred also traveled to the Detroit area during the 1970’s to take lessons from Violet Hopkins. The Coopers hosted clinics with Hopkins, Karl Mikolka, Chuck Grant and Hans Moeller, who have all since been inducted into the United States Dressage Federation’s (USDF) Hall of Fame.
In 1981, Jim and Phyllis moved their Flintlock Equestrian Center to the current location of Anchorage Farm. Here they continued a state-certified vocational educational equestrian management program that they had begun in the UP. In 1985 Kris Cooper replaced Phyllis in the management of the equestrian facility.
Kris was reared on an 1883 family farm in northwest Iowa near LeMars. Kris’s mom, a former biology teacher, shared with Kris her love of all Nature. Both of her parents loved horses, having worked with draft horses themselves in their youths. Despite aptitude tests that pointed to a career of “working outside with animals”, Kris pursued undergraduate and advanced degrees in psychology from Iowa State University. For 20 years she worked in the field of applied social-psychological research, doing such things as program evaluation, market research, advertising research and strategic planning.
Kris founded Anchorage Farm in 1981. Here she bred Arabian horses and competed under the auspices of the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC). In 1992, Kris joined Jim in the fulltime teaching of horseback riding.
Jim and Kris Cooper
With Kris’ arrival, the name of the place gradually changed to Anchorage Arabians. Jim stood several stallions at stud. Jim and Kris specialized in the training and showing of Arabians through 1996.
From 1990-2002, they held a special use permit in the Pike National Forest where they guided people on horseback. They rode the first 170 miles of the Colorado Trail into seven wilderness areas and over six passes in excess of 12,000 feet. It was their “bed and breakfast trail rides” of this era that helped launch their own B&B operation. In 1996 with the advent of their own B&B and their shift away from their focus on a single breed of horses, they changed the name back to Kris' original business name, “Anchorage Farm”.
Although Kris had first joined USDF in 1986 and exhibited in dressage shows in the 1980’s, it was not until 1996 that Jim and Kris re-focused their efforts to the teaching of dressage. Kris and Jim participated in USDF’s instructor pre-certification workshops. Kris took the USDF instructor’s exam in 2001.
From 2002-2004 Anchorage Farm hosted bi-monthly clinics with Alex Wortmann, a German-certified Reitlehrer. Alex helped solidify Kris’s knowledge of and dedication to the "Pyramid of Training" (Die Skala der Ausbildung). Alex also assisted Jim and Kris and their students in the importation of eleven German warmblood horses from Stall Ramsbrock in Menslage, Germany. One of their former students, Katryna Evans, later apprenticed at this very large German stable,earning her Bereiter certification in 2011. In 2003-5 Anchorage Farm students excelled in USDF national standings.
Anchorage Farm has also hosted clinics with Violet Hopkins, Gerhard Politz, Beth Baumert, Sarah Martin, Simone Ahern, CindyLeFevre, Clinton Anderson and Frank Bell. Beth’s “Six Ingredients” videotape series is another excellent source of information about the Training Pyramid. Since 1996 Anchorage Farm has continuously hosted bi-monthly clinics with Fred Kappler. Fred has studied extensively with Violet Hopkins, Andres Lindgren, and more recently Dominque Barbier and Frank Grello. Fred has introduced to Kris classical “work in hand”, which she employs with all of her training horses and interested students. Click here for our clinic schedule.
Kris loves teaching and training. She is currently training three horses at third level. Eight horse and rider teams under Kris’s tutelage have earned scores at training and/or first level over 70%. One of her current mounts, Weltmann, earned scores at 67-69% from internationally ranked judges at second level. Kris is active as a USDF judge’s “scribe”. Her articles have been published in several USDF group member organization newsletters, including those based in Detroit, Atlanta and Houston.
Kris and Jim’s practical experience with a large variety of horses has given them a unique background for teaching. Their current school horses represent many breeds and are very useful in helping students learn to deal with a variety of training issues and problems.
Kris and Jim specialize in teaching people not just how to ride, but for their students to learn to improve any horse with which they come in contact. They have taught over 2000 students at their current location. Please take advantage of their expertise through asking questions, observing lessons and training. Take some lessons! There is just so much to learn!
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