Today, after years of riding in shows and raising white horses together on their Troup ranch, they remain life partners who share a passion for the animals.
Walking around the ranch with his wife Tuesday, Anderson, 76, proudly introduces 25-year-old Paris, the oldest white horse there.
“Both of these horses were in 'The Alamo' movie (with Dennis Quaid),” he boasts, pointing to Paris and another horse named Ringo.
He then cleans out Paris' hooves before receiving kisses from another horse, “Spirit of Thunderbunnies Image,” and bringing out a white pony, which he made kneel.
“When I jump out of bed, I can't wait to start the day…”Anderson said. “Raising the white horses hasn't always been easy, but … it's something that I enjoyed, and I found the perfect gal to help me enjoy this.”
The couple, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with friends and family Sept. 30, met in Kansas City, Kan.
Mrs. Anderson, 74, a Radio City Rockette at the time, decided to resign from the Rockettes and travel with her father, who was training midget mules for an act. Back then, Anderson was in Kansas City with a hitch of Clydesdales.
They were in town together for about three weeks and got to be good friends. Later that year, Anderson drove to see Jo-Ann, and found her in Nebraska.
The next summer, he visited her again and again, and they went up to the old white horse ranch in Nebraska, where he bought some colts to train.
“I told her, 'If you marry me, this is your wedding present,'” he said. So they got married in Iowa on horseback in 1962 and went on a honeymoon to pick up those colts. Then they returned to the Chicago area, where they trained their first horses.
The couple didn't move to Troup until 1968.
Mrs. Anderson said they wanted to move to a warmer climate with better winters for training.
They did horse shows, circuses, rodeos, parades and fairs before moving to Texas, but when they got here, they decided to put out a summer show and play in fairs. Their group was called the Texas White Horse Troupe.
“We'd go to fairs and rodeos and (riders would) say 'I want to join this,'” Mrs. Anderson said, adding that the riders were from all over the country.
The troupe did its own act, and then it was a big production. The couple hired girls, and sometimes men and boys, who toured with them all summer. They trained in the Anderson family's ranch arena, where they learned, among other things, to trick ride, Roman ride, and drive chariots. Anderson said roman riding consists of someone standing on the back of horses and doing different maneuvers, such as galloping over hurdles and figure eights, six horses at a time.
The troupe went on from the 1960s to the late 1990s. Their son, Austin, still does shows and has a website, www.texastrickriders.com.
The Troup ranch once had about 40 white horses, but that number is now down to about 20.
Some horses from the ranch were featured in movies, such as “The Alamo” with Dennis Quaid and “Secondhand Lions” with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall.”
The Andersons also trained horses for the U.S. Army's Old Guard Caisson Platoon in Fort Myer, Va., and Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
The horses pull the caisson and casket through Arlington National Cemetery during funerals for military members or senior government leaders.
“Mrs. Anderson, she can tell you first-hand how to wash a white horse” he said with a laugh.
His wife agreed, saying they've bred a lot of horses, and it was gratifying to see a colt being born, and as it grew up through different stages and different stages of training.
“We're proud, and white horses are always very beautiful in any kind of show,” she said.
When asked how the ranch evolved or what makes it unique, Anderson said white horses themselves are unique. He also noted that the ranch is well-known in the United States and overseas.
Mrs. Anderson said they've continued to raise the animals for so many years because of their love of horses.
It's “the love of showing them to the audiences that appreciate the training we have done and what they can do,” she said.
Anderson said it's “five minutes of glory, and all the rest is hard work.”
The one thing that's made raising horses and traveling interesting is meeting nice people along the way, he said. He still has friends he's known for 50 years.
As far as what their anniversary means, Mrs. Anderson said, “We've worked pretty hard at this and enjoy doing this (together).”
One of those entertainers is Ashley Pletcher, who has been at the Texas White Horse Ranch about 10 months working on trick riding and roman riding.
The 19-year-old from Pennsylvania said she found the ranch on a website and plans to continue training there.
“I love it here,” she said.
So does the couple, who said if a person enjoys doing something, it isn't work.
“I've enjoyed doing this all these years. I'm proud of what we've done, proud of the horses, and our children growing up and being part of the business,” Mrs. Anderson said.