So much emotion here.
Pictured above are Samuelle W. Leerkamp (11 yo) and Idol of Kings winning their first blue ribbon at the Affiliate National Championship for 15 and Under .70 Meter! We have to be honest here and say we did not expect to bring home any ribbons... We were in it for the experience as a family to honor and celebrate her achievements in her first full show season. We could NOT have felt more proud. She worked so hard... and to see her smile right there, made all of our efforts in getting them there more then worth it.
Sam was invited for an interview after her first win! She was soooo nervous but managed to hide it pretty well:
Zone 5 Golden Ticket winners USHJA
There we were, discovering by chance through a friend of Samuelle’s that saw her name posted on social media (as the official USHJA invitation email landed into our junk mail folder) that Samuelle (11yo) was invited to compete nationally in Las Vegas!?
I feel I need to backtrack and highlight again the fact that we fell into this sport randomly and that we, as a family, do not have ANY knowledge, experience or history in the horse world what so ever and I mean that, to ridiculous levels. We 100% relied on anyone around us willing to enlighten us with any kind of information in figuring out what we needed to do to try and honor this once in a lifetime invitation and navigate around the rather consequent challenges thrown our way:
IF wanting to compete in Las Vegas, we had 40 days to find a horse to compete with AND a trainer available to accompany us. We reached out to so many people and connections hoping for leads… We were blessed to be put in contact with trainer Emily Farmer from Keepsake Stables whom said she knew exactly whom Samuelle was as she saw her compete recently and said she would love to jump on board for the ride. She also said she might have the perfect horse for the job too: Idol of Kings!!?
Samuelle squealed when she heard about the possibility of riding Idol of Kings. She had heard of him and seen him on occasion at local shows. The rumor was he isn’t for the faint of heart… Not just any rider can handle the power house! But she was up for the challenge. Samuelle passed the test and trained daily after school and weekends until the Nationals!
Las Vegas, here we come...
Samuelle W. Leerkamp, winner of VIP Outreach backstage passes (USHJA Golden ticket) taking over the first place!
Setting the pace, winning their first blue ribbons at the Nationals!
Sam & Idol making their victory lap after collecting their first blue ribbon!
Samuelle's 1st place win: https://www.facebook.com/606397443/posts/10158535325627444/?d=n
National Championship title, winning moment: https://www.facebook.com/606397443/posts/10158537249107444/?d=n
We couldn’t have done it without you ♥️ - Uncle Sam, for gifting Samuelle with a Canterbury Groupon for her 8th birthday and thereby gifting her with the start of a true passion. - Trainer Sandra Brady, Canterbury Stables, for cultivating an unmatched environment and community that makes kids fall in love with the sport and horses… and for the countless hours spent teaching these kids! - Rooster, AKA Be Sorta Bad, for the best year ever and getting her The Golden Ticket to the United States Hunter Jumper Association - USHJA We love you RooRoo. - Melanie Mader from United States Hunter Jumper Association - USHJA Outreach program #outreachbackstagepass - for allowing kids like Samuelle & Ashley to experience the National Championships! An experience of a life time. - Trainer Debbie Danner, for the valuable extra lessons taught at Bit Whip improving on Sam’s riding skills. - Trainer Emily Downs Ahlfeld for taking her onto the Zionsville Equestrian Team and enriching her with the team experience! - Jim Farmer, for advising us to reach out to Emily Farmer when we didn’t know how or where to find a trainer and a horse available and willing to embark this USHJA adventure! - Trainer Emily Farmer and assistant trainer Catherine Blessing, Keepsake Stables, for jumping in with both feet, into this adventure with us (and holding our hands through this;) as well as offering Samuelle a winning horse: Idol of Kings!!! THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE - Fam Fans Friends & Barn Family! You know who you are! We love you!! - And last but not least: Ashley Vaught! For being Samuelle’s role model and inspiration for the past 3 years and onwards… For mentoring her (& Emma) for months on end! All need to know, that Samuelle wouldn’t be here without you.
Ashley Vaught & Samuelle Leerkamp, riders at Canterbury Manor Stables with trainer Sandra Brady.
The next USHJA National Championships...
The big week may have come and gone, but this definitely got us wanting more...
Hopefully we will see you next year!