I’m Leonora Smee, I’m 21-years-old and I’m an international showjumper, TV presenter and fashion model.
I’m here today with one of my horses, River Dance Semilly, who is a relatively new addition to my team. He joined me mid-season last year (2016). He’s quite cheeky, so we’ve been spending some time getting to know one another. I feel like the connection and the partnership between horse and rider is extremely important — you have to love your horses and they have to love you.
My second horse for this season is Waltons Top Flight and he’s 14-years-old this year. He has been a fundamental part of my team for a number of years. Until now he has been my number one horse, but my plan this year is for these two horses to switch roles. ‘River Dance’, being very experienced, will jump the bigger classes and grands prix and Waltons Top Flight will concentrate on speed classes and small grands prix.
The horses have just finished their winter holidays. Nowadays the season is long and the horses spend a vast amount of time at competitions and travelling between them, so at the end of the year I like them to have a break. This gives them time to relax and remember that they’re horses.
Our competition calendar beings in February where we’ll start in Belgium and then travel to Holland, Germany and Northern France. All of these competitions will build up to the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show in St Tropez in June and the Global Champions Tour shows in Cannes and Monaco. I’m also hoping to jump at the new venue for the London leg of the Global Champions Tour in August, which I’m very excited about as it’s in my home country.
We’re very lucky with the way our sport has developed and the fact that we are now able to jump at some amazing shows in the most beautiful locations. It’s not only great for us as riders, but it’s also wonderful for owners, sponsors and spectators that they are able to enjoy the sport in five-star luxury.
Now that we’re up and running, my main focus is fitness and gymnastic exercises, which includes flatwork. The horses also spend time on a treadmill and canter tracks to increase their stamina. I should probably be working on my own fitness for that matter!
Now to my TV presenting, which is something I would really love to do more of. I’ve helped cover a number of different events, including the Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe in Paris and the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy. WEG was amazing — I was able to interview a wide range of equestrians who were at the top of their game in every discipline. It was definitely an eye-opener. This year I intend to do a lot more.
In-between all of that, I squeeze in the odd photo shoot for different high profile retailers. I know you’re probably thinking it’s a lot of glitz and glamour, but I can assure you it’s a lot of hard work with early mornings, late nights and a lot of travelling — I feel as though I live out of a suitcase (or three)!
I have the most amazing team behind me and really all I can say is that I love what I do.
Well, that’s our story, and for those that are interested, we really look forward to sharing with you the exciting year ahead.