Sophie Thoerner has only been riding Eye Spy for a year, but anyone watching the two compete this week at the 33rd annual Hampton Classic Horse Show would’ve had a hard time believing that. The 15-year-old Pierson student looked poised and professional atop her mount, like she’d been riding the horse forever.
Thoerner and Eye Spy won Reserve Champion in the local juniors Hunter class on Sunday after placing second in two events and fourth in another. Later on Sunday in the equitation round, in which riders are judged on their poise and posture while on the horse, the two placed second in a field of 40. And on Tuesday Eye Spy and Thoerner grabbed sixth place in the Marshall and Sterling qualifying medal class.
After the equitation round on Sunday, Thoerner said her horse “killed it” after breezing around the course and nailing every jump. But the relationship between the two has not always been so sweet.
“When I first got her she was crazy and I needed to figure out for myself how to ride her,” said Thoerner.
She first hoped on Eye Spy at Twin Oaks Stables in Bridgehampton less than ten months ago. And it was a battle up until late spring when the two traveled to New Jersey for the Garden State Horse Show.
“Maybe the week before Garden State she was still being crazy, but then I was more patient and more relaxed and then when we got to the show we were double champion and I won every class we competed in,” she said.
Whatever chemistry the two developed in New Jersey clearly carried over to the Classic this week. She said it wasn’t until this week that she truly realized “what an amazing horse” she had.
This was Thoerner’s fourth Hampton Classic, but it was her first on a horse. The last three years she rode ponies.
“I figured the pony out quickly,” said Thoerner. “Horses are much more difficult.”
Her love affair with riding began when she and her father would ride in the Dominican Republic while vacationing there. At the time they lived in the city, but began coming out for the classic when she was eight years old. Two years later, she was competing.
Thoerner has been riding every day for at least an hour for the last five years. This year, she thought about playing soccer in the fall at Pierson. But then she changed her mind.
“In other sports you work as a team but you can communicate with a language,” she said. “ But with a horse you can’t use language to tell them what to do. You have to have them trust you.”
Based on the way the two communicated on Sunday and Tuesday, it’s clear Thoerner is doing something right. Maybe she speaks horse.
Top photo: Sophie Thoerner and Eye Spy in the equitation round of the local junior Hunter class last Sunday at the Hampton Classic. photo by John Bayles