Each week I interview the people behind some of the most interesting and popular equestrian accounts on Instagram. This week I’m chatting with the very talented freelance dressage rider, Sofia Jankiewicz . Read on to learn more about the woman behind the @sofiajankiewiczdressage instagram account where she shares her days of training her own stunning horses, videos and competition action.
Tell us a little about you and your horses
I am a 24-year-old dressage rider based in Lincolnshire. I am extremely lucky to have moved at the start of this year to our dream house with my horses at home. This has enabled me to pursue my dressage career whilst setting up my own business running a successful livery yard alongside teaching and freelance riding.
Prior to this I worked for Northamptonshire Police in the Emergency Control Room answering 999 calls, gaining a lot of understanding of what “the real world” is like. I decided after 2.5 years that I wanted to work with horses full time which has always been a dream of mine.
I am also very fortunate to have 3 beautiful horses. First up is my Advanced dressage horse Boularouz also known as Bouli who is a 16’2 14-year-old, Grey KWPN Dutch Warmblood which I have successfully competed up to Advanced Medium currently training at PSG. Next up is my new beautiful 3-year-old Gelding called Monty who has impeccable breeding by Glocks Toto Jr X Johnson I’m really excited for our future together as he is already showing fantastic talent. Last but no means least is my 13’2 12-year-old Welsh B mare called Gem who we bought at the end of last year, to take with us on the move to Lincolnshire, as a companion pony who absolutely loves being on the yard with the competition horses and thinks she’s living in luxury.
How did your horses come into your life?
I’ve always been around horses since I could walk, I’m very fortunate to have such a supporting family who enable me to do what I do, both my mum and brother rode but have since stopped but they still love to be on the yard and around the horses.
How long have you been riding?
I think I first sat on a pony when I was 3 years old at a riding school and by the age of 5 we had purchased my first pony, so the last 21 years I have been riding.
When and where do you ride?
I am very fortunate to have moved to our dream home with equestrian facilities at the start of this year, I train everyday but try and give myself a day off on Sunday from riding (which I do have to force myself to do!)
How did you start riding?
My mum and brother used to ride when I was younger so was always around horses from a young age and had my first cheeky pony (he was called Cheeky Charlie as he used to bolt and I fell off a lot) when I was 5 years old.
What you and your horses currently working on?
With Bouli I am currently training at PSG competing at Advanced Medium, we were aiming to do our first Advanced in November to hopefully qualify us to ride at PSG level but due to COVID competitions were cancelled so my aim is to do this now hopefully in the new year. And with Monty as he is only 3 years old and newly backed I am just enjoying getting to know him, we will aim to do the young horse classes next year as these are a great starting point in his career.
What do you love about riding?
I love the connection between me and my horses when you know each other really well, when your hard work pays off when you achieve a certain movement that you have been struggling with or get a PB competing I love the buzz feeling you get.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
I want to still be running a successful small livery yard at my home and have a string of clients that I regularly teach and ride for. Also, to be competing successfully with my horses obviously my long term goal would be, like many other riders, to get to Grand Prix or even the Olympics (you have to dream big!) But my short term goals would be to get Bouli competing successfully at PSG level next year and to have my 3 year-old Monty out competing when he’s more established next year. I’m hoping he will be “the horse” to take me to the top as he really is extremely talented and has the breeding to match! But most importantly I want my horses to be happy and healthy.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
I suffer quite badly with nerves at competitions even at small shows, but particularly at the bigger shows I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to do well and to do my horses justice.
How do you deal with them?
In the past I have worked with a sports psychologist to help me overcome my nerves/pressures I put on myself which really helped, particularly when I fell off Bouli 6 years ago and fractured my back. I was in a back brace for 8 weeks which really tested my mindset. I am also super lucky to have a great support team consisting of my family mainly my mum who is there at every show and knows me inside out but also my trainers Jezz Palmer and Natalie Banks who not only are my trainers but are a key factor to my success.
Your Top Tip
As well as working hard make sure you are enjoying yourself and your horses, it’s very easy to compare yourself to other riders but the most important aspect is that you and your horses are happy and on track with your goals. Another top tip is to make sure you have a great support team around you such as; friends, trainers, farrier, physio, saddle fitter, dentist and vet as these all play a vital role in our overall performance.
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Struggling to choose just one so it would have to be Valegro and Glocks Toto Jr (who is my 3yr olds sire) they are both incredible!
Who is your equestrian hero?
Again this is tricky to pick just one so my top three would be – Catherine Dufour, Charlotte Dujardin and Isabell Werth
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
Usain Bolt, Catherine Dufour, Hugh Grant, Bradley Cooper and Amanda Seyfried
Favourite colour horse?
Favourite horse event
Olympia – I go every year and love it just as much as when I first went