Two people brought together by the same passion and a shared vision of a better way to train
Sam is an Irish international event rider who has competed up to CIC3* and represented his country at the FEI Young Rider European Championships.
Sam began riding at a local riding school as a young boy, along with his mother, Joyce, and older brother, Ian. As the years went on, Ian gradually lost interest but Sam was hooked and eventually progressed from Saturdays at the riding school to weekends at the home of Anne and Eamonn Kelly, who kept a small yard. Anne and Eamonn were friends of Sam's parents and gave Sam the opportunity to ride their children's former pony, 'Flipper'. Sam and Flipper joined the pony club and took part in every competition they could together, taking many rosettes along the way.
As Sam inevitably grew too tall for Flipper, he and his mother bought a horse to share between them, though during the summer Sam had more than his fair share of ridding as he and 'George' travelled the country from one Pony Club competition to another. They won many competitions together, competing in the Pony Club National Championships for dressage, showjumping and eventing, as well as inter-schools eventing and showjumping.
By this stage Sam was totally absorbed the equestrian world, not only as a rider but also as a horseman. He successfully progressed through the Pony Club exams, eventually achieving the highest standard awarded, The 'A Test'.
Sadly by 2004, in a reoccurring theme, Sam was also out-growing George, and they contested their final competition together at the prestigious SIlver Spurs Final. They were awarded one of three training bursaries, and took second place in the ride off. Marking the end of a very successful partnership.
Following much success at all the Pony Club disciplines, Sam was sure that eventing was his true passion, and began to look to affiliated competition with Eventing Ireland. After many months of searching for the right horse, and a few mistakes along the way, Sam was all but ready to give up on horses when along came Teldon, and they haven't looked back since.
Sam and Teldon instantly bonded and have progressed from Pony Club right through to international 3* level. They tackled their first novice together, travelled to the UK for the Pony Club Eventing Championships, finished 7th in their first ever international event in the CCI* at Necarne Castle, and travelled back to the UK to complete Weston Park CCI*, all in their first year together. From there they have gone on to compete at 2* level, represent Ireland in the FEI Young Rider European Eventing Championships, finishing 21st, and complete their first CIC3* at Barbury Castle in 2014.
Though Sam was achieving good results with Teldon, he was realistic about how difficult it was to get started in the equestrian industry and had no plans on becoming a full time Event Rider. Sam graduated from Wesley College Dublin in 2006 and progressed to third level education at the Dublin Institute of Technology, studying Architectural Technology. After graduating a conversation with Sam's father, Kevin, that sparked the idea of following his dream of becoming a professional Event Rider.
Within 3 days of his graduation ceremony Sam was on his way to the UK to take up a position at Queenholme Equestrian, home of fellow Irish event rider Mark Kyle, and his wife Tanya. Sam worked under Mark and Tanya for a full season, gaining a wealth of experience not just in the saddle, but in all aspects of running a professional yard, from yard management, to care of the horses, and competition scheduling to managing staff.
After leaving Queenholme, Sam took up a position at Woodland Farm, Wiltshire, where he was responsible for managing a private event yard under the guidance of Brazilian event rider Marcelo Tosi, who was also based at the yard.
It was during his time at Woodland Farm that Sam was approached by Julian Podger who was interested in buying some young horses to contest the BYEH classes. It proved to be a vital turning point for Sam, gaining his first client and eventually leading to the transition from being an employee to setting up his own yard. Julian has had horses with Sam ever since, supporting him as he started his own yard at Soley Farm Stud, and his move to a permanent base at Seven Bridges Farm where Sam and Júlia started D&L Performance Horses.
Júlia trained as a showjumper with international riders Serguei (Guega) Fofanoff and Yuri Mansur in Brazil before moving to the UK to focus on eventing.
Júlia has a life long affinity for all animals. At the age of nine she attended a BBQ with her mother and first witnessed somebody have a riding lesson. Júlia was entranced and immediately knew that was all she wanted to do. She promptly dropped her various other sporting activities and produced a list of equipment and riding schools for her parents!
Júlia started lessons at a local equestrian centre, Sociedade Hipica de Ribeirao Preto. Unlike riding schools in the UK and Ireland, Brazilian schools don't teach children on ponies, instead they put them straight on to horses. By age 10, less than a year after first sitting on a horse she was jumping a 17.2hh horse called 'Came'!
After four years at Sociedade Hipica de Ribeirao Preto moved to Escola de Equitacao Guega, home to Olympic event rider Serguei (Guega) Fofanoff and bought her first horse Fair Lady (Rica). Júlia spent every moment she could at Guega's yard, taking part in summer camps and learning about every aspect of horse management. They competed in many showjumping competitions all over the state of Sao Paulo, winning many trophies along the way.
Júlia trained regularly Guega and British based Brazilian rider Guto de Faria. Herself and Rica had a rare connection and the pair progressed quickly through the grades. Their crowning glory was winning the prestigious 'Campeonato Paulista', beating riders from all over the state in the 1.10m class, and being interviewed on TV.
Eventually RIca met her limit jumping and sadly Júlia had to make the tough decision to sell her and buy another horse to progress her riding. Júlia saw 'Palmar' at Guega's yard and was told he was 'not for every rider', immediately she decided to buy him! Palmar was an exceptional horse, with amazing power and scope. Júlia trained him from the age of four and, like Rica, they progressed quickly through the levels. At age seven, Palmar was jumping 1.30 tracks and they seemed unstoppable, however sadly it was not meant to be.
As Júlia left schooling 'real life' took hold, she moved to Sao Paulo city and began studying at university. She graduated with a degree in Administration and Marketing, and took a job in the marketing department of a fashion company, later moving to a publishing company. Júlia was forced to give up her riding during this time and sold Palmar. Palmar went on to great success, competing up to 1.60m and represented Brazil in a World Cup Qualifier.
In 2011, on a visit home to Ribeirao Preto, Júlia spotted 'Nicolae'. He would be the horse that changed everything. After eight years without riding suddenly her love for horses was reignited. Júlia decided to turn her back on what was proving to be a successful career in publishing, and follow her true passion. She left her life in Sao Paulo and returned to her home in Ribeirao Preto. Her former trainer, Guega, introduced her to a fellow Olympic eventer, Marcelo Tosi.
Marcelo was based in the UK and he invited Júlia to travel there where he would train her. To say the least, Ribeirao Preto to Marston, Wiltshire was a culture shock for Júlia, not only because of the 40C temperature drop in February! However, Júlia took it all in her stride and threw herself into this new way of life. It was here, in Woodland Farm, that Júlia first met Sam and they began dating.
While at Woodland Farm Júlia was given the ride on 'Rupert', one of the owners horses. He was a sensitive horse, but he gave Júlia her first taste of eventing in the UK and eventually finishing the season at Novice level.
Sadly Júlia could not stay in the UK without a visa, and was required to return to Brazil. Determined not to slip into her pervious life, nor lose valuable training time, Julia once again returned Sao Paulo, but this time to work for International showjumper Yuri Mansur.
In 2014 Júlia returned to the UK. Sam had since moved from Woodland Farm and started is own business. In 2015 Júlia applied for residency in the UK, allowing her to live and work here, and start D&L Performance Horses with Sam.