Samuelle W. Leerkamp, a young Midwest-based equestrian, whom through an intensified training schedule during the covid pandemic progressed out of cross poles to .80 meter jumpers from the start of 2021's show season by season's end; resulting in becoming:
- a triple IHJA champion,
- an IEA high point scorer for Zones 5 & 7 and
- a 15 and under USHJA National Champion for .70 meters,
at age 11.
In 2022 Samuelle rode her heart out to become:
- a 4 times IHJA Champion making her:
- Zone 5 (and all US Zones's!) USHJA high point scorer,
qualifying her to compete at Nationals again where They reached:
TOP 3 in Jumpers 17 y/o and under:
- 3rd place .80 meter
- 2nd place/Reserve Champion .90 meter
- 1st place .90 Grand Prix
and was awarded
- 2022 T.I.P. National Junior Rider Champion,
at age 12.
Little did we know a birthday GROUPON gift for her 8th birthday (to horseback lessons at Canterbury stables, Zionsville IN) could - and would- literally change the mapping of our lives as a family so significantly... Feeling blessed (most days;)
It all started in 2018 around Samuelle’s 8th birthday, by chance, with a birthday GROUPON gift sent by uncle Sam from Belgium, for three horseback riding lessons at Canterbury Manor Stables in Zionsville, IN
Samuelle had been keeping us busy and avidly trying all sports: soccer, ballet, gymnastics, volleyball… We made room for a session of horseback riding to honor Uncle Sam’s gift. We had never heard of the stables and were surprised to find this tucked away manor in the heart of Zionsville, IN. It felt rather surreal when we pulled up! We were welcomed by a couple of sheep and a peacock, then kindly told she could look for a helmet that fit in the bin and go find Roman, the good old boy she’d be riding that day! Made for a dreamy experience.
"Roman this, Roman that, Roman all the time." We couldn’t hear the end of it. The next week couldn’t come fast enough…
By Christmas 2019 the whole family had pitched in to make her dream of owning her own (second hand) saddle come true -- and then just like that, without a fair warning: our lives were about to take a drastic turn. The pandemic hit!
In 2020 all other extracurricular activities and sports fell off the schedule and were organically replaced by additional horseback riding lessons (where the 6 feet social distancing was kind of a given!) When Christmas rolled around we surprised Samuelle with the lease of Rooster, aka Be Sorta Bad. A horse she’d by then had been riding for the past few months. Rooster wasn’t a very popular horse at the barn back then. No one wanted to ride him as he was known to be a "stinker" in the nicest of terms: bucking and rolling with his riders…
But her trainer Sandra Brady, thought they’d make a good pair and Samuelle was up for the challenge!
Sam, being 10 years old back then, of course was tickled by the fact that Rooster is the grandson of Secretariat himself!
The perfect storm: Months of hard work for those two to synchronize (and for Rooster to accept his new rider,) but because of (or thanks to) the pandemic, they practiced on average 5 days a week together and felt ready to tackle a show season together as our travels abroad were canceled due to COVID. For a lack of better things to do, we kept busy by entering them in most local Canterbury and "Wild Air" 2021 horse shows.
As a result of a successful show season, Samuelle was awarded USHJA high point scorer for Zone 5, second to Canterbury rider Ashley Vaught, whom had been mentoring Sam through the rough beginnings of her lease with Rooster. Both riders (thanks to a computer glitch) won the USHJA Outreach Golden Backstage Pass and were invited to compete at the USHJA National Championships in Las Vegas, in November 2021! #ushja #goldenbackstagepass #USHJAoutreach
Hi! I'm mom, the "narrator." I grew up in BXL, Belgium and lived in BIG CITIES my whole life (BXL, Amsterdam and San Francisco) before moving to Indianapolis, IN. With English as a third language, the "horse language" is a fourth that I speak at toddler level by now -so I tag my husband in (who grew up playing soccer here in Indiana,) when it comes to helping her figure out the rule book and regulations. I resort to contributing and supporting her in the ways that I know best. Having majored in the arts, I used to build websites to make ends meet and have always loved photography, so documenting her journey is one of those contributions along with chauffeuring, sponsoring, grooming and being her biggest fan. GO SAM!
Mom & dad trying to figure this horse thing out!!
Samuelle W Leerkamp
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