USHJA 2022 National Championships...
Another successful USHJA Nationals week under her belt.
An unbelievable experience!
& Many lessons learned...
2022 USHJA OUTREACH GOLDEN Backstage Pass WINNER!
High Points scorer for Zone 5 (AND for ALL 11 Zones in the US!)
#USHJA #HighPointsZone5 #USHJAoutreach
This year, the email didn't land in our junk mail folder! ;)
#USHJA #GoldenBackstagePass #USHJAoutreach
The US Equestrian-recognized national affiliate for the Hunter and Jumper disciplines
— released final High Points today, September 21, 2022
"Congratulations to ALL amazing and hard working riders competing!!
Samuelle W. Leerkamp is not only the official high points rider this year for USHJA Zone 5 that supports riders from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio, but also for the entire 11 USHJA Zones (50 States) in the United States!
Samuelle hereby WON the Golden Backstage Pass for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance/USHJA National Championships, and for real this time! LOL. Some might remember (and some won’t let her forget;) even though she was initially announced to being the Golden Backstage Pass winner last year for zone 5, they uncovered an error in the system, making Samuelle second high point rider to Ashley Vaught, the rightful high points scorer and Golden Pass winner last year! USHJA outreach ended up honoring Sam’s already announced pass, which she honored in turn with a championship win in .70m jumpers!
It’s funny. Last year, in September 2021, we had never heard of the USHJA outreach Golden Ticket program. We had simply followed a list posted by the barn, noting a few organizations we needed to register our rider and horse with (and after loosing all of 2020's score and points due to forgetting to do so, we made sure to comply but that was the extent of it.) We didn’t even know there was a place to look up or keep track of her points. Sam was randomly informed by a fellow rider after a lesson that she had won high points rider's USHJA Golden Ticket or we would have never found out (as their official email ended up in our junk mail folder!) When we’d then hear the many random pokes about Sam’s supposed many strategies (at 11yo) to win this Golden Pass (that we were unaware existed,) we honestly wished we could take credit for being so clever and strategic. It just so happened that the pandemic canceled all of our other summer plans and we allowed Sam to train and compete all summer instead. Things suddenly got a little intense there for a minute but I hear the same happens in any other competitive sports, so we didn't take it personally. Note: I myself never competed in ANY sports back in Brussels, Belgium growing up. I was that art school student doing all the artsy stuff so yes, this is all new terrain to me ;) Look for the deer caught in the headlights. That's me!
This 2022 show season, Sam was definitely more mindful in her approach and goal oriented. You can get a lot of heat (or cold shoulders) in a competitive environment. As parents we've tried to guide her through it by always attempting to make criticism constructive - regardless of wether it was intended that way. “Did you or did you not deserve a chance at attending the Nationals last year? Let’s find out, so that you no longer doubt your own achievements!" It’s a lot to handle for a twelve year old and the life lessons and character building from these experiences are far more valuable than the ribbons themselves, for sure. Unapologetically go after your dreams kid, if you don't - someone else will! And always continue to do so by admiring, respecting and learning from your fellow riders, biggest competitors and role models.
We could not love and thank Rooster, Be sorta Bad, enough as well as trainer Sandy Brady for providing this incredible opportunity to all of her riders. None of this would have been possible without them.
Last year’s invitation/experience to Nationals lead us to Idol of Kings and Emily Farmer (as Sandy and Rooster couldn’t make it,) whom through dedication and hard work made this year’s USHJA Golden Backstage Pass and invitation to Nationals (in conjunction with Rooster and Sandy) a reality!"
~ mom, September 21, 2022
#gratitude to family and friends that have shown their support (and patience) as we prioritized much of our focus and time to this journey we embarked with Sam.
#USHJA #GoldenBackstagePass #USHJAoutreach
It felt like a long show season to not only qualify for nationals through IHJA but also win the USHJA Outreach Golden backstage pass by becoming USHJA Zone 5’s as well as all US’s 12 Zone’s top scorer. Winning the golden backstage pass for real this time, was the goal. And it was gloriously met!
In all honesty, once that goal was met, we all got nervous by the almost unrealistic expectation that sort-of-inevitably attached itself to our going to back to Nationals, this by last year’s Champion outcome!
We did not want that to be our expectation at all as it was pretty much setting us up to come home disappointed of an experience meant to be The Reward in and of itself — for all the efforts put in leading up to it! We discussed this at length as a family and agreed to curb those expectations as much as humanly possible and remember to enjoy this new experience as it came…
Last year Sam won National Champion in .70 meter and 4th overall in .80 meters (at 11y/o) — This year she decided to compete in .80 meter again which they won overall first place State wide (IHJA) for 2022. She also decided to compete in .90 meter instead of defending her .70 Championship title… Note Sam had never competed at .90 meters before this National Championship, but she wanted to push her limits instead of trying to repeat history and trained hard for it for one intense month leading up to Vegas.
Points wise, this year Sam and Idol tied for Reserve Champion in .80 meter but placed 3rd overall for not placing in all rounds…
TOP 3 in Jumpers
17 y/o and under:
- 3rd place .80 meter
- Reserve Champion .90 meter
- 1st place .90 Grand Prix
at 12 y/o
As well as a 5th and 8th place in EQUITATION!!
The week started with an exhilarating win in an open .80meter ring (all ages) with over 60 entries!!!! Then Sam struggled to finding the pace/control over eagerness for a while, getting them to always be the fastest but at the cost of not always being clear. It takes a lot of mental focus and strength for a twelve year old to find that right measure and she did, by the end of the week! Her last ride was PERFECT. She didn’t end up winning by exorbitant amount of seconds as she had up until then (by 4 -7 seconds!!) but they ended CLEAN!
I think I can speak for Alan, Emily and myself; in that over the span of this one intensely long hard week we saw this kid grow by soaking up the punches (disappointments) and not only learn from them but was able to apply the lessons learned from one course to the next! We could NOT be more proud of her.
Samuelle is not only the rider but also the groom, getting up early in the morning to muck, bathe, feed, walk and care for her horse and going to bed late after the long day of schooling, waiting at the gate, competing, going to daily educational events offered by USHJA and trying to catch up with family in Vegas for support! All by her own choosing and set discipline! No one had to make her do any of it, not even her homework this time around!! (Well, except for making her eat her veggies still LOL!)
All three of us were trying to ignore the cold that was slowly creeping in on us. Vegas was much colder than anticipated and even though we spent the entirety of the week inside, our stall was located close to the exit doors that were often left open for traffic. We were freezing down there! It’s probably going to take Alan & I a few weeks to recover from all of this but years of joyful memories and pride… An experience like this is a glue that bonds the family like nothing else we’ve ever experienced!
Ow, I guess I forgot to mention: even though Sam and Idol have a true love for jumpers they also decided to compete in Hunters and Equitation, since the golden pass allowed for it at no expense. Mostly out of curiosity to see where they would place on a National level!
In Hunters, where the horse is being judged (for all our non horse friends and family,) we didn’t stand a chance as the only OTTB thoroughbred in the ring with all the beautiful and elegant (expensive) warm bloods. We met our expectations there! In Equitation however, where the rider is judged upon skills/style and position (hands, legs, feet, etc) as well as the correct amount of strides taken before the jumps (no speed taken into consideration,) they placed 5th and 8th out of a class of 22!! Which made us all jump of joy!
Emily, Sam soaks up your teachings like a sponge. She is SO LUCKY to have you as a trainer and in her life! Thank you for this opportunity and experience of a life time.
~ mom, November 22, 2022
Samuelle Leerkamp & Idol of Kings (with trainer Emily Farmer)#USHJA #HighPointsZone5 #USHJAoutreach
From training once qualified to making it to Vegas!!!
$150,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Las Vegas 2022
Samuelle was invited to meet the winners and sit through the press conference!!
She got her hat signed by winner Lillie Keenan #lillieckeenan and by Olympic trainer Robert Ridland.
This whole experience couldn’t get any better…
#FEI #USHJA #longinesjumpingworldcup
In picture: Conor Swail, Lillie Keenan, Elisa Broz and Samuelle Leerkamp.