Jessica Springsteen, 20, is one of the United State’s most promising young riders, with several big wins in recent years. She was an alternate rider for London 2012 with the Belgian Warmblood Vornado van de Hoendrik.
Text MARIA GRAAE Photography CAMILLA STEPHAN / The Horse Rider’s Journal No.6
To the sound of “Born in the USA”, Jessica Springsteen set things straight with a sharp double-clear round and won the first class at the Global Champions Tour in Vienna aboard Vornado van den Hoendrik. She oozes style, in and out of the saddle. With her clean face, dark long hair, golden skin and classic facial features, she is wearing an understated dark navy show jacket and adds a simple but effective twist to her look with bright red nail polish. Her dad may be the world-famous rock star Bruce Springsteen, but it’s Jessica who’s making headlines these days, not only beating the European showjumping elite at their own game, but also buying the high-profile horse and Olympic gold medal-winner Vindicat W from Britain’s Peter Charles, with hopes of competing for the United States at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. When not in Europe, Jessica rides and trains at the family’s Stone Hill Farm in New Jersey. In 2011, she received the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider award, which is given to America’s top women competitors.
What can you tell us about your new horse Vindicat W?
“It’s a new horse for me; I’m learning how to ride him and I’m very excited. Each horse is different. I go for a brave horse with big strides. I’ve been looking for a new horse ready for Grand Prix for a really long time, since I don’t have time to bring one along myself. I’m going to take it nice and slow getting to know him, and start small.”
How did it all start?
“My mom started riding and I just sort of followed. I was four or five years old, and the equestrian centre was just across the street. I did a lot of equitation divisions, where you are judged on hands, seat, guidance and control of the horse. My parents have always supported me. It was never a question of whether I was going to ride at this level – the horses and sport have been a part of my life for so long, it just felt natural. And my parents love the sport as much as I do. It’s incredible to travel this way with the horses to these amazing shows.”
How is it possible to combine European shows and living in the US?
“I usually go home every three or four weeks and then stay for a week. I’m studying psychology at Duke University, but I’ve taken this semester off to develop my riding. I’m incredibly grateful to my trainer Laura Kraut – she’s been fantastic and she was the one who got me here, who brought me to Europe, and it’s such a learning experience.”
How does it feel competing at the European shows?
“It’s my second season here. I was also here last season as a young rider, we were seven riders and I think we all learned a lot. It was great fun competing with the team. Honestly, the highlight of this season is the experience of being here at this level; this senior season has been incredible, all the riders here are amazing, and it means everyone really stepped up and I’ve learned so much. When I’m walking the course I tend to get a little anxious, thinking those jumps looks awfully high and are placed awfully close. But luckily, when I’m on the horse, I just focus and go.”•