Sophia Merz was on a horse before she could walk. She grew up learning the discipline and hard work that it takes to become a competitive equestrian.
This past season, Merz entered the United States Eventing Association beginner novice division for the first time. She specializes in three day eventing – dressage, show jumping, and cross country.
“I love cross country because it’s also his (Bodie) favorite. He loves doing it and I love to go out and be me and him, jump so many kinds of jumps, go through water, and feel free,” Merz said.
After her first season, Merz finished as the top ranked beginner novice junior rider in the United States.
She credits her trainer, the support of her family, and the special bond between her and her horse, Bodie.
“We have pretty good chemistry,” Merz explained. “He is very sensitive and crabby. When I get on him, I can feel when he is starting to get mad and I can fix it right away.”
“She can concentrate really well for being so young. There’s kids who are younger than her and older than her that look up to her because she works hard and is successful at what she does,” said Jill Jamison, Santa Ynez Pony Club Co-District Commissioner.
By competing in the junior division, Merz is up against anyone under 18 years old. Merz may only be an 11-year-old sixth grader, but she has set the bar high.