Journal at the World

September 2, 2011

Seeing the World

This international all-around competitor came to America to see the differences.

By Samantha Eckert
The American Quarter Horse Journal

Sophie Schonauer and Gentle Invitation in hunt seat equitation at the 2011 European Championship.

Sophie Schonauer travels to the 2011 Adequan Select World Championship Show to see the differences in AQHA classes. (Schonauer family photo)

Sophie Schonauer, 23, of Bonn, Germany came all the way to the 2011 Adequan Select World Championship Show to see the sights.

Sophie just earned the title of All-Around Amateur at the 2011 European Championship with her mare, Gentle Invitation, by Hotroddin Invitation and out of Gentle On Her Mind by Mr. Zippo Jet.

She and her mare, “Gentle,” placed in the top three in hunt seat equitation, showmanship, horsemanship, hunter under saddle, western riding and performance halter mares at the European Championship to earn her the all-around title.

“Gentle” is an 8-year-old mare that the Schonauer family bought four years ago.

“This is our fourth season together. She is awesome. She is really awesome,” Sophie said

Sophie came to the United States to meet and stay with AQHA Professional Horsemen Jim and Deanna Searles of Scottsdale, Arizona. Sophie’s trainer in Germany is Linda Leckenbusch, who worked for the Searles a few years ago.

Sophie will be staying with the Searles for the next three weeks to ride and train.

“They are supposed to be the same of course, but the level is different here,” Sophie said about the differences in the horses and styles of Quarter Horse shows.

“We have been improving over there (Germany). We now have American judges so I think the all around people over there are very good. Many of the riders have their horses on their own, without a trainer.”

Sophie has been showing at AQHA level shows since 2008, starting out in novice amateur events.

Sophie has qualified for the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show in all the classes she rode in at the European Nationals. She explained that it is much harder to get qualified internationally because the classes are much smaller.

“This year I went to the biggest shows. They are all in Germany because we have a very nice facility. The classes are not so big. It is not comparable to here. If I am lucky I may have 10-15 in horsemanship,” Sophie said.

Sophie could possibly lease a horse through the international leasing program. This allows qualified international riders to use horses in America, owned by someone else, to use to compete at the World Show. 

“The deadline is in two weeks, so there will be a lot of talk,” Sophie said about her possibility to show at the World Show on a leased horse.

When Sophie heads home she will have just a few days to get ready for the 2011 German Championships - good luck, Sophie!