Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 9, 2018 – Anartz Chanca has experienced a rollercoaster of emotions the past few weeks during the process of applying for his U.S. citizenship. He was excited to learn of his qualification for the U.S. Dressage Finals with his 8-year-old Superman, but could not finalize his entries or travel plans until he was officially granted his U.S. citizenship. It seemed that he would be forced to throw in the towel until he got a phone call on Monday from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with news that would grant his wishes.
Chanca grew up in San Sebastián, a coastal city of the Basque Country in northern Spain, where he spent his childhood as an endurance rider on Arabians. However, he was an avid soccer player and stopped riding when he was 14 to focus on his other sport and school. When it was time to choose a location for higher education, Chanca moved to the United States for the first time to study for his MBA at Eastern Michigan University. Little did he know that his career path was leading him back to his equestrian roots.
“After graduating, I was managing a company in Ohio when I was 27 and there was nothing else to do,” Chanca said. “It was a small town so I decided to get back into horses because there was a barn and I started showing in the jumpers for a few years.”
When the company he was managing transferred him from Ohio to Texas, he began his search to find a new boarding facility for his horse.
“I moved to Moorlands Equestrian Club, which is how I met my wife, Marta Renilla, who is an international Spanish dressage rider whose family owns the facility in Tomball, Texas,” he explained. “I found her and it was pure luck and destiny. I fell in love with her and this sport. The jumpers gave me the adrenaline but this gives me work to do every day. To develop the partnership with the horse — it’s another level for me.”
He made the decision to focus full time on his dressage training and began competing in 2013 at Training Level.
“I kept moving up the levels and had a super horse called Campione,” he continued. “He was a Prix St. Georges horse I bought from Holland and he taught me everything up to FEI. Together, we learned the Grand Prix. I sold him and decided to give it a shot as a professional. For two years I was a professional trainer and barn manager of Woodlands Equestrian Center.”
In only five years, Chanca moved quickly up the ranks, earning his USDF bronze, silver and gold medals, collecting multiple championship titles in Region 9’s GAIG/USDF Championships and qualifying multiple times for the U.S. Dressage Finals. However, as he only had a green card, Chanca was ineligible to compete at the national championships in Kentucky. During those years, he also started a family with Renilla, which includes identical twins.
“I was doing well in the dressage world and enjoying it but a little more than a year ago a company from Italy asked me to go back as an executive for their business,” Chanca explained. “I have a family to support and thought it was the most sensible thing to get back into the business. I have not done any horse related business in more than a year and while I’m currently competing in the open division, I’m debating on getting my amateur card back.”
Now the president of Binotto USA and a resident of the U.S. for 12 years, Chanca took the opportunity to apply for citizenship. The process was arduous and filled with anxiety as the deadline to declare for the U.S. Dressage Finals was approaching rapidly with no word from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“They called me in for the interview on Oct. 30, which I passed,” he said. “I had hoped the process could be completed in time and declared to compete at the finals and submitted my entries. However, last Friday I gave up because I didn’t think it would happen. My wife is also competing here and her horses left in the trailer in the morning, but I didn’t load my horse. Five hours later, [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] called me saying they could do the ceremony the next day. I decided last minute to find a shipper who could do the transport from Houston to Dallas at 3 a.m. Superman loaded onto the trailer to come here and I flew here the following day after the ceremony.”
Chanca qualified Superman in both the Third and Fourth Level Open Championships. On Friday, the pair placed fifth in the large Third Level Open Championship with a 69.06 percent and will compete in the Fourth Level Open Championship later this weekend.
“My citizenship happened on Tuesday. Every year we qualify but cannot make it because we were not U.S. citizens. To me, being here is already a gift and more than enough, so whatever happens in the arena is good,” he said. “I’m happy with my Third Level score and I felt like it was a good ride. We had a small mistake on the transition to canter — he anticipated and trotted — but other than that he felt great. I’m very happy with my horse, he’s a champion.”
Now that he can represent the stars and stripes, Chanca is excited for the opportunities that have opened up for him, including qualifying for the Festival of Champions, Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Championships and the U.S. Dressage Finals. He is aiming to compete Superman in more Prix St. Georges classes as he is still quite green at that level.
“Right now, we are focusing on the horse show because that’s the most immediate thing that happened after the citizenship, but being a citizen is a lot more than that,” Chanca explained. “I have been in this country for 12 years. I met my wife here and both kids were born here. My life is here and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. I like Spain and I feel very Spaniard, but I also feel very American now. I’m extremely happy to be an American and I feel a sense of belonging. I had a green card, but becoming an official citizen does change a little bit. I now wear the U.S. flag with a little more pride. People are great in this country as they support each other in this sport. Both my wife and I feel that way and we are very proud to be Americans. I wouldn’t trade my life here for anything in the world.”