… At random, end of September 2021, a barn friend of Samuelle congratulated her for being high point rider in zone 5 (USHJA outreach program) and being invited to Nationals with a Golden Backstage Pass?! She had seen the announcement on social media!
Sam came home from the barn that night after practice and tried to remember what it was that she was congratulated for, speaking a million words a minute! She also concluded by saying that Sandra Brady (her trainer) informed her that Rooster would not be able to go with her if she was considering going. Him being too old for the journey.
We were like "Congratulations kiddo!" And "Awe too bad but understandable about Roo being too old.”
And (we thought,) that was that!
The official email invitation had made it into our junk/spam folder! And when we shared the news to family, many questions came to surface! "But can she go with another horse?" "This is an opportunity of a life time! You can’t pass it up for her!” etc etc Not going to lie: we got a bit guilted into looking further into it! Sandy, told us we should try and find another local trainer who might be going as well? They might have a horse she could participate with?
… We asked the few trainers we had gotten to know locally through the IEA team experience and private lessons but they didn’t have any advice or input to give to Samuelle about the opportunity, as they had never heard of it before. We started reaching out in Las Vegas if any trainers would take Sam on for the experience and that lead us to finding willing trainers available to take Sam but no available horses for her to ride with. At that point, we were determined to find a way. I contacted a local hunter jumper judge that worked at some of the local shows Sam was competing at and he sent us a solid reference: Local trainer Emily Farmer.
Emily knew exactly whom Sam was! She mentioned seeing her ride at the local shows. Her quick response and enthusiasm brought sudden light to the situation! ... And then... She mentioned she had the perfect horse for the journey too!! Woah. For real? This started to look like this was going to happen after all?! We met up. It clicked. Felt right. Bam! Sam was about to start her intensive training with Idol of Kings. They had one month to get acquainted and connect.
Sam knew of “Idol of Kings” and jumped 3 feet into the air when I mentioned his name. We of course, had no idea who he was but his reputation quickly made its way to us. We were told by other parents they wouldn’t let their kid (or any kid for that matter) get close to this horse!
Granted, Idol tried to run Sam over (and the barn help trying to get him for her), bite her head off, reared when tacking and when given a chance he would try to throw her off into the ring or to the rail.
I will always remember the first day we went to flat him and no one else was at the barn. She only had “me” for help (?) He probably sensed my fear and he gave her pure hell when she was trying to tack him up. He was trying to kill her. She asked me to leave. I told her I could not leave her alone with him in that barn. She asked me to step back. I took a few steps back and tried to calm my voice and breathing. I will NEVER in my life forget seeing her plant her too feet firmly on that ground, standing as tall as her whole 11 year old self could- in front of him. I saw her angrily wipe the one tear that got away before she exclaimed loudly “I CAN DO THIS!” … I still to this day don’t know wether it was meant for me, him or herself to hear.
They came back National Champions in .70 meters from Vegas!
An absolute THRILL.
We have since watched her EARN his respect first, then his trust. NOW, she has earned his friendship! And yes, he will save her ass and get her over that fence if he can and that with ALL he’s got.
We love you #sassyjerkface
Remember, it's not your goal that will make you successful, it's what you do daily.
We love him so!
He has reinforced a valuable lesson in this life…
« Always make your own opinions of someone, » no matter how many opinions were offered to you. Granted. There is often no smoke without a fire. But if you give them an honest chance, passed the ugly rumors and possible mistakes made in the past… (as he probably had to work through some stuff himself, and just like any of us, only wanted someone to love him) — you just might find a gem under that sassy jerk face! LOVE is always the answer. And mints! LOTS and LOTS of mints!
Samuelle & Idol getting to know each other before heading to Nationals in Vegas, November 2021
One year after starting the lease with you Rooster, Be Sorta Bad in 2020, you gifted Sam with this opportunity to attend the Nationals with Idol of Kings
"BEST GIFT EVER!"
The King caught trying to take a nibble at his girl! LOL
The king put back in his place.
Samuelle W Leerkamp
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