Susannah Lansdale has been competing for 33 years and was on the long list for three-day eventing in the 1996 Olympics. She’s now an eventing trainer at Signal Knob Equestrian Center—5300 Heckel Road, just east of Evansville—riding, teaching, showing, and selling horses at the barn.
She especially loves to ride Buck Naked.
Lansdale competes Spooner—a former racehorse who had been retired and literally put out to pasture due to injury—under the show name Buck Naked. Shortly after acquiring Spooner, Lansdale rode him in entry-level competitions, but he didn’t perform well at all, balking at jumps and otherwise failing to follow her instructions. She had nearly lost faith that he could be a competitor when she met Sara Ivie of Saddle Solutions in 2005.
Ivie custom fit Spooner with a County saddle, and the results were amazing.
She said that she is unaware of any other saddle company that provides such an outstanding custom saddle, and the time Ivie puts in to perfecting the fit, along with her attention to detail, has played an important role in turning things around for Spooner.
Now he’s an Olympic-quality horse, and he could be heading to Rio.
Immediately after the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Games, U.S. Olympic selectors begin searching for riders for 2016, so Lansdale and Spooner must start training and entering upper-level competitions as soon as possible.
However, the veterinarian fees, show fees, and travel fees—plus the cost of stepping away from her business that includes 35 stalls and a number of students at Signal Knob—is staggering. Lansdale estimates this cost to be in the neighborhood of $25,000 to $50,000 per year.
“It’s hard for someone like me,” she said, so she has to rely on sponsorships. Even some sponsored riders, she said, have to take out loans to compete in the Olympics and are then in debt for 10 to 15 years afterwards.
“Eventing is much bigger in Europe,” said Lansdale. “They get corporate sponsors like Jeep or Coca-Cola. In the U.S., the sponsors are often individuals with horses and money of their own who want to finance an Olympic rider.”
So why go through all of this?
“The Olympics are the end-all be-all of my sport,” said Lansdale. “Short of selling my first-born, I’d do just about anything to get there.”
If Lansdale is able to find sponsors, and with a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, we could see her riding Buck Naked in her County saddles in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Lansdale and some of her students ride in the County Fusion and the County Conquest, while other students use the Connection and Innovation models. To learn more about Signal Knob Equestrian Center, visit www.signalknob.com.
Ivie will be in the Evansville area from July 30 through August 1 and has limited appointments available for those interested in scheduling a consultation. To learn more about County Saddlery and Saddle Solutions, or to schedule a consultation with Ivie, visit www.saddlesolutionsllc.com.