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Sophie Jumping for Joy
Written on the 15 July 2016
Hills teenager Sophie Ludbrook is literally a sportsperson who jumps at the opportunity for success.
The 17-year-old has been selected for the junior SA team to contest the National Interschool Equestrian Championships to be staged in Sydney during September. A Year 12 student at Scotch College, Ludbrook will compete in her chosen discipline of showjumping, taking on the best of Australia's secondary school riders over the rails in the 110cm and 120cm categories.
Having the opportunity to compete at the 2000 Sydney Olympics equestrian venue will mark a further development in the sport for Ludbrook, who really only started seriously pursuing a jumping career some three years ago.
"Like all little girls, I always loved horses, and having my older sister involved with horses also gave me a bit of inspiration," outlined the Mylor resident.
"At the age of 12, my mother eventually purchased a horse for me which initially led to trail riding before joining a pony club, and later becoming involved in Equestrian Australia (EA) events.
"I later got into the interschool riding competition, and I guess things have just escalated from there.
"Through a few older friends at Scotch, I started as part of the college's equestrian team as a Year 8 in 2012.
"The system was pretty good as I was able to get a taste of all eventing disciplines through interschool and pony club events.
"My little pony at the time was a great mount and we worked very well together.
"I was able to gain selection in the overall interschool SA junior team which competed at the nationals in Perth in 2013."
Ludbrook faced an extra challenge during her national debut, having to borrow a local WA horse to participate.
"I had virtually a week to get to know a strange horse and form some sort of partnership but we ended up doing okay," she reflected.
"I was the only junior team showjumper from SA that year, and was able to finish third in the individual competition which was a reasonably fair result.
"In 2014, I was again able to get selected for the interschool nationals at Werribee, but I was unable to ride my regular horse and so things didn't go quite as well, but it was good experience just the same.
"During 2015 my previous borrowed horse was getting close to retiring and for a while it seemed I might not be able to compete."
However, given the tight-knit nature of the equestrian community, the talented Hills rider was soon back in the saddle.
"Through a friend of mine, I was able to borrow Blitz a few weeks before the pony club nationals which were held here in SA," said Ludbrook.
"We had only about two weeks to prepare and did alright in our second competition together, which was held at the Murray Bridge Showgrounds where the nationals were hosted.
"We then entered the nationals and were going alright early, sitting in the top three, but ended up eighth in the individual showjumping, but the team did finish third."
Ludbrook sensed the chance to form a lasting partnership with the 11-year-old Blitz who stands 17.1 hands, and duly took up an option to purchase him.
-- original story by Jeff Pistola appeared in The Mount Barker Courier, 13 July 2016
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