Moments from the first couple of days at Ecuries d’Ecaussinnes. I was assigned a mare named Bailey’s de Lauzelle. She’s an 8 year old Belgian Sporthorse and a beautiful dark bay color. She was feisty like my Sjapoo but smart like my Ottavia and a super fun ride. The first day was a lot of flat work getting to know her a bit and the next day we did more gymnastics and jumping. I trained for the first couple of days with Fernanda Ammeuw, wife of Christophe Ammeuw the creator of the Masters Grand Slam. Fernanda is a former student of Nelson Pessoa and a pleasure to train with. The property here is so picturesque, a literal heaven on earth. They have everything they need here. The stables and 5* resort for horses, two outdoor rings (one with a grass section), 2 indoor rings both with viewing areas for spectators, the offices of EEM which is the hub for all Masters activity around the world, conference rooms that overlook the indoor and outdoor rings and of course they have their own home on the property. Absolutely stunning.
Moments from HITS Thermal Week 4, 2015. Ottavia and I rode really well and placed in the Mods. Thermal is always one of my favorite shows. 2500 horses a week, riders and trainers from the Western half of North America, World Cup Qualifiers, the AIG $1M Grand Prix and the beautiful landscape of the desert. What’s not to like? Plus had a few assignments to write and shoot for Horse & Style Magazine.
Moments from the 93rd Annual Flintridge Horse Show. Placed in every class with my new horse Ottavia Des Hayettes. She’s a 16hh Selle Francais sweetheart. We did the Modifieds and the Children’s jumpers and all in all was a really great start for us together. photo creds to my Dad Bret St.Clair.
Moments from The Oaks June 2016. Super happy with our results this weekend. First grass show in 2 years! I wasn’t sure what to expect from Tavi but she was great. We took 2nd in the 1.30M J/AM Jumpers and 3rd in the 1.30M J/AM Jumper Classic. Also, had a really fun time working with a barn mates horse this weekend by picking up some catch rides in the 1M Jumpers. Was able to get her horse around clean for some solid schooling. This trip was fun too since we had a good number of peeps from our barn. Always better with lots of fun people!
While training at Ecuries d’Ecaussinnes I was very lucky to have a special private lesson with Nelson Pessoa. Both my trainers Caroline and David Sterckx trained with Nelson during their junior years alongside their friend Rodrigo. Nelson was at EcuEcau with some of his Brazilian students on their way to shows in the region. It was very special for me, of course, but also for my trainers to have one of their students train under Nelson. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous but as we began I settled in to my zone. Everything was going great until we discovered that the amazing mare that I had been riding all week had never been trained to do an open water jump. This turned out to be one of the most interesting parts of my experience. Instead of just rearranging the course to accommodate the training schedule. He said “Sophie I have until 2:00. We will stay here and train her until she does it.” My horse went from absolutely unwilling to do the water jump to flying over it with ease after about 20 trying minutes. We gently but firmly coaxed her first through and then over the water. I learned one of the most important lessons I could have learned from this master horseman. I will absolutely be able to apply this knowledge in my future. This was far better than a jumping lesson because it really required me to stay calm and encouraging with my horse all the while trying to stay in the saddle in front of Nelson! He said, “She’s going to just do one big jump up on all fours and then it will be done.” And he was right. After that we were just fine like the open water had never been a problem. Awesome experience.
Had such a great show at the Huntington Beach Surf Classic. Won both the Low Junior/AO Jumper Division and the Classic. Wrote up some press releases for westpalmsevents for opening day and the results of the grand prix, spent some quality time with my brother Jake and my dog Dooda and had a great time with really nice people from our barn. Ottavia was perfect. We still have more to learn but it is amazing to have a horse you trust and who trusts you too. Looking forward to the Huntington Beach Summer Classic in a couple of weeks.
Grand Prix Moments from HITS Thermal Week 4. Lucy Davis won the WCQ Saturday night. Will Simpson won the $50K GP Sunday afternoon. New horse and rider partnerships with veteran riders and developing partnerships with the fast rising young riders like Hannah Heidegger. Photo credits Bret St.Clair except where noted. Those are mine.
Another fantastic weekend at the Huntington Beach Summer Classic. Tavi and I had a couple of uncharacteristic days but we put it back together in the GP where we finished 4th! The other riders in my barn had successful rides too, one moving up a division and one onto a new horse.
Missed part of my barn family this weekend because they were at Pony Finals in KY. Congratulations to Sydney Flashman, Avery Kim and Tabi Okitsu for their great rounds there! Way to represent Sterckx Stables there too.
Back to school Thursday for my senior year in high school. This was a really nice way to close out the summer. Onward.
Moments from Verdugo Hills June 2015. Had a great show in the Low J/AM’s and my barn mate Jennifer Sims moved up to her first AA High’s. And she’s an awesome eq fashion blogger (IG:@styledequestrian). My other barn mates Stephanie Don and Sydney Flashman killed it in the pony jumper ring. Both are going to US Pony Finals! Syd for pony hunters and Steph for pony jumpers! I’m so proud of all of these awesome riders and friends.
Moments from Huntington Beach Summer Classic. Was a great week for me and Ottavia. 2 blues, a red, Champs of the Modified Junior Jumpers and Champs of the Modified Jr/AO Classic. Busy too in my intern duties for West Palms Events. Great fun with all the Sterckx Stables team mates. Enjoying the moment while I have it!
Moments from HITS Thermal Week 7. Had a great week with Ottavia coming back into the rhythm. We finished 4th in the 1.30M Juniors and she jumped great in the 1.35 Junior/AO Classic. Couldn’t be happier with our progress. @bretstclairphotography