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  • Writer's pictureRiding Warehouse

Meet Sponsored Rider: Sanoma Blakeley

Riding Warehouse has the pleasure of sponsoring Sanoma Blakeley, an avid endurance rider and equine enthusiast. Our RW Crew has so enjoyed supporting her equestrian endeavors throughout the years, and we invite you to read about Sanoma's horseback riding journey to discover more about her.

Sanoma's Background

Q: Where are you from? How did you get started horseback riding?

A: I am a horse-crazy girl from Oregon and currently have three horses! I love horseback riding; it is not only my biggest hobby but also my profession. I was born in Germany, but I grew up in a small town in Oregon that hosts a lot of horses and riders (mainly western). I was super fortunate to grow up in a horse-loving family and have been on horses since before I could walk. My mom and dad taught me to ride when I was really young, and it came pretty naturally. My parents and older brother have been the biggest support and role models in my equestrian journey! I am an avid endurance rider who loves to ride horses to their fullest potential. To pay for my horse addiction, I start and restart horses under saddle. I have trained several feral stallions and love the challenge of working with "problem" horses. Arabians make great endurance horses and are my breed of choice.

I completed my first 25-mile endurance race when I was seven years old, and by eight I finished my first 50-mile ride. I received my first Tevis Buckle when I was twelve, the minimum age requirement to compete in the Tevis Cup. Over the years, I have completed 94 races. I have ridden on four different continents, and besides riding, I love traveling. In endurance, I have received the "Best Condition" award 18 times, won 29 races, and completed the Tevis Cup three times, winning in 2019 and finishing fourth in 2023.

Q: Why did you want to be sponsored by Riding Warehouse?

A: Riding Warehouse is my favorite tack store and a huge supporter of the endurance community. I was well aware of their support of the Tevis Cup and often used the discount they provided to AERC members. Their customer support has been top-tier, and after being offered some sponsorship opportunities when I won Tevis, I realized that I might actually be able to be sponsored by the best tack store ever (yes, I'm sponsored by them, but I 100% would write this even if I wasn't)! I am so honored to be sponsored and supported by Riding Warehouse, and they have been so amazing to work with throughout my endurance journey. I pride myself on the amount of RW swag I have, which consists of my entire wardrobe! Riding Warehouse keeps me going on the equipment and fashion side of riding, but one of my favorite things to do is ride bareback and barefooted. I honestly just let my horse be a horse while enjoying their company.

Sanoma's Horseback Experience

Q: Do you have a general philosophy you follow when it comes to horses? What lessons have you taken away from your horses?

A: I think it is so important for horses to be themselves and stay true to their nature. I like to joke that horses are basically big puppies, because they love to play and eat snacks and goof off. There is hardly anything I would rather watch than a herd of frisky horses running in the pasture or playing with each other. One of my philosophies (which is probably not that original) is: the happier a horse is, the better they will perform. I also think the more a horse likes you, the more they will give to please you. I believe in the power of simplicity, and going back to the basics should never be overlooked. I realize this is not always feasible and realistic in our society, but I think horses are most satisfied when they have room to run, friends to play with, food to eat throughout the day, regular exercise, and lots of attention from their human bestie. Maybe my horse is super unique in this regard, but he is happiest when I give him carrots!

I love the sport of endurance riding because I get to spend countless hours in nature with my horses and learn so much from these amazing animals. I've had the opportunity to ride or work with many equines, and I have competed on 32 different horses. Each individual horse has taught me so much and shaped me into the rider and trainer that I am today. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is the value of patience and trust. Sometimes, it can be easy to ask a horse to trust you but not as easy to trust the horse back. For me, one of the most satisfying parts of being an equestrian is to put your trust in a horse and feel that trust returned, whether it is mounting an unbacked horse for the first time, or trusting my seasoned endurance horse to navigate a challenging trail in the dark during a 100-mile endurance race where I can't see anything (apart from his ears). I know it can be very challenging to trust a horse, maybe because of a past accident or something of the like. It is not always easy to give horses the confidence they are looking for, but I have seen an incredible difference in horses (especially young or anxious ones) when they find confidence from their rider.

Q: What keeps you going through rough patches (such as horse injury, personal injury, etc.)?

A: It's always easier said than done. Whether it be a riding accident, inclement weather, or the dreaded injury to your horse, it seems like setbacks and horses go hand in hand. During these tough times, it's important to keep looking forward. Admittedly, it can be easy to get discouraged and frustrated when everything seems to be going against you. Sometimes it feels like giving up is the best thing to do, but I have found that holding onto your dreams and focusing on the "why" can help you get through more than you think. The "why" often boils down to a love for the horse. Patience, a trait not often easy to possess, is a well-learned quality when it comes to dealing with horses. Staying positive by focusing on what you can do and what you do have. The mental part of going through rough patches is worse than any physical restrictions, so keep your thoughts positive and visualize what it will be like when you actually achieve your dream—even if it takes longer than you expected or hoped for!

Q: Throughout your equestrian journey, what has been your proudest accomplishment?

A: Some of my proudest achievements in my equestrian journey haven't been rewarded with a ribbon or a trophy, but they are the moments when I have overcome a challenge or worked with a horse that has been less than easy. Okay, so that might not be 100% true — winning the Tevis Cup when I was eighteen is definitely one of my proudest achievements! A lot of the satisfaction came from the self-pride of overcoming some of my fears and obstacles; feeling truly at one with my horse and having a strong bond with him helped me win the most famous and challenging 100-mile endurance race. Another huge achievement that came as a result of that win was when I published my memoir, Chasing Dreams. I think riding Tevis was easier than writing about winning Tevis! Most of the other equestrian milestones I pride myself on usually involve the bond I forge with a horse, whether it be the first horse I trained by myself, or bringing a young horse along that I trained from the ground up to watch them compete in their first endurance race, or the Tevis Cup.

Q: What's your favorite event, ride, or race?

A: I love the Tevis Cup. It is the kind of race I can't bring just any horse to; it takes years of training because of the challenge of the course, and I have to feel a really strong bond with the horse I am riding in Tevis. I have a terrible fear of steep trails and drop-offs; while I love the atmosphere of the ride and preparing a horse for Tevis, I can't say it is my favorite. I have started Tevis six times, and each time I have taken a great measure of pride in knowing that I was able to get my horse ready, and that I trust them enough to carry me through the tough mountain trails.

I personally prefer the flat, desert rides; there is just something about riding through the sea of sagebrush and sand that makes me feel like I belong on a horse. It is so satisfying to feel my horse eat up the miles and be able to stretch out my eyes over the wide open spaces. Besides, when it's flat I don't have to worry about drop-offs. There is hardly a greater feeling than cantering across the desert on my favorite horse!

Q: How do you overcome your fears (if you have any at all)? Who is your biggest supporter or cheerleader?

A: My fear of drop-offs isn't totally unjustified, as I witnessed a horrific, fluke accident that involved a horse and drop-off when I was young. Despite the trauma from that accident lingering in my mind when I'm riding on narrow trails, I try to focus on my horse and put my full trust in them. Talking myself through this fear and being open about it has helped me a lot. My parents are my biggest cheerleaders, and they help me rationalize and stay calm when I get nervous on a narrow trail. I believe horses have the power to help us grow in more ways than we will ever realize, by encouraging us to look fear in the eyes.

Closing Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed reading about sponsored rider Sanoma Blakeley's life in the discipline of endurance. We encourage following Sanoma's journey alongside us to help grow into a more well-rounded equestrian, and we invite you to shop some of Sanoma's favorite products below.

We also suggest reading more of her expert articles if you are interested! In the meantime, Sanoma would like to leave us with this piece of advice:

"Life is full of surprises, and you never know what is going to come of it when living with horses. Hold on and enjoy the journey! One of my favorite inscriptions I like to write when signing my book is, 'Don't be afraid to chase your dreams, the best adventures come from chasing your wildest dreams!' Even if things don't turn out exactly how you planned them, it's okay as long as we are enjoying our horses and having fun."

Stay up to date with Sanoma by following her on these platforms:

Instagram: @sanoma_blakeley


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