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Horse Scout Real: Jessica Springsteen

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Jessica Springsteen is one of America’s most successful showjumpers. She has won a number of International Grand Prix and more than a million pounds in prize money. Secondary to her riding prowess, she is the daughter of Rock legend Bruce Springsteen aka “The Boss”. Whilst reporting at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final, Ellie Kelly caught up with the 26-year-old in Barcelona about horses, love life and life on the road.

You made it on to the American squad here at this prestigious team event, how did you feel about that?

I was so excited. I always wanted to come to Barcelona for the Nations Cup Final. To be picked for the team was a huge honour for me- to represent my country is always my goal.

 

Which horses do you have here in Barcelona and how would you describe them?

I have two horses From Rushy Marsh Farm- RMF Swinny and RMF Cecille

They are both the sweetest horses in the world; they are so cuddly and kind and have amazing attitudes. They are both so confident and brave that they make you feel so comfortable when you go in the ring, which makes it fun to ride. I love them both.

 

How long have you been riding them?

It’s a newer partnership with both; I started with Swinny last October and Cecille in January. With Swinny, I clicked with her right away, she’s just my ride but Cecille was a slower start but now I feel so comfortable with her at this level and we made a good partnership.

 

We witnessed a great win here in one of the individual classes- The Queens Cup. How would you sum up your performance?

I was so happy. Swinny jumped amazing and there was a lot in the jump off and that is where she shines. She is naturally fast so I could do extra strides in places where people had to leave them out and I was still able to be faster. She’s the kind of horse that gives you a lot of confidence and you really feel you can go in there to win.

 

You compete all over the world but what do you think of this event here in Barcelona?

I love competing in Spain. Everybody is so nice here, the spectators are so enthusiastic and it’s lovely and warm.

 

Describe your life as a professional rider

It’s a lot of travelling and living out of a suitcase but you do get to travel to so many amazing cities and venues all around the world and that is an experience that you would never really get otherwise. It definitely doesn’t feel like a job to me. I love it and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

 

How many horses do you ride each day?

Right now I have nine horses and I’ll try to ride about six a day. Any more than that and I feel like I can’t give them the proper work. I’m normally at the barn all day when I’m at home because I travel so much, so it’s important to spend time with the horses and make sure everything is going well with them before I head to the next competition.

 

Do you ever ride and compete younger horses?

I’ve just bought a six-year-old horse but most of mine are a little bit older because I am on the road so much that I don’t really have time to train the younger ones. But I definitely think that is the way to do it- buy them a bit younger and bring them on because then you really develop a nice partnership.

 

How do you manage competition nerves?

When I am really nervous, I just try to remember as much as possible that I get to do what I love every day and I am so lucky to do that. I try to just enjoy the moment with my horse as much as possible and I try to feel prepared with. My horse when I am going into the ring. I remind myself “you know what you are doing, just stick to your plan and try to enjoy it” and that always helps me.

 

How do you spend your downtime?

There’s not much of that. Whenever I have a week off, I try to go home to see my friends and family in New York and we have a farm in New Jersey.

 

You are dating Italian rider Lorenzo de Luca, what the gossip on that?

I’m very lucky (big grin). It’s really nice to be in the sport with someone who really understands everything it takes. We see each other quite often. At the same show pretty much every week which is really nice.

 

Who are your heroes?

Growing up I used to watch Laura Kraut, who I trained with for many years. She is amazing; she’s such a fighter and can ride any type of horse. Mclain Ward and Beezie Madden are great idols we have in the US and to be at the same shows as them, you learn so much just by watching. Then to be on a team with them now is really cool.

Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

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Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

“I would rather win Badminton than any other event in the world” reveals international eventer Giovanni Ugolotti. “There is a feeling that no other event has, even the World Championships or Olympics and for Kathryn and me, it is what we have been dreaming of from childhood.”

With team appearances at the Olympics, World Games, European Championships, the Pan-Am Games and a number of CCI4* events between them, you could say that Kathryn Robinson and Giovanni Ugolotti are eventing’s “power couple”. Together they run Cranford Stud, an eventing and training yard in Gloucestershire and are both planning to compete at Badminton 2018. Horse Scout are giving away a prize for two people to walk the Badminton course with Kathryn and Giovanni and discover their trade secrets.

Giovanni started eventing in his native Italy and finished 4th in the Italian Junior Championships in 1999. He rode for the Italian Army Equestrian team from 2002 until 2007 before arriving in England in May 2008 to work for Andrew Nicholson. This was followed by a stint riding young horses for Tristram Owers. He quickly made his mark on the British scene taking 1st and 2nd at Hartpury CCI1* in 2008. In 2010 he finished 12th at Pau CCI4* and has competed at Badminton on three occasions.

Kathryn was born in Canada to a British father and Canadian mother but has been based in the UK for most of her life. The daughter of unhorsey parents, she began riding at her local riding school and was an active member of the Woodland Pytchley Pony Club. Kathryn didn’t take up eventing properly until she was 19, whilst working for international eventer Sam Albert.

Kathryn admits her career would not have been the same without her ride of seven years, Let It Bee. A horse she bought from Germany simply as an amateur horse but with whom she has scaled the highest level. The pair have competed at Badminton, Pau, The Pan Am Games and the Rio Olympics. Kathryn is hopeful for a good placing at this year’s Badminton, having jumped a double clear at her first attempt here in 2016.

So what do you need to excel at Badminton? “You need a partnership with your horse” explains Giovanni. “And your horse needs to be at the top of his form that weekend. You can have very good horses, capable of winning but if they are having an off day or are not at their peak for those four days then you are not going to win. You need a bit of luck” he says.

Kathryn and Giovanni will walk the Badminton course about four times. “The first impression doesn’t usually change too much and it is certainly a course that doesn’t get any smaller each time you walk. In fact, with Badminton I find that the more you think about it, the bigger it seems” he smiles.

Giovanni and Kathryn have a healthy working relationship rather than a competitive one. “We try to help each other” says Giovanni. “Kathryn helps me a lot in the dressage and I try to help her in the jumping. Sometimes we bump into arguments like every couple does. Luckily we like completely different kinds of horses, so it works out quite well.”

During the winter Kathryn likes to keep her eye in by riding out racehorses for trainers such as Ben Pauling and Alan King. Whilst Giovanni prefers to capitalise on the downtime, returning to Italy to see family. He is an ardent football fan and supporter of AC Milan.

Life on the yard is pretty busy so during the season, there is little time for other hobbies. “There is a lot of paperwork involved with running an equestrian business” explains Kathryn “Although we sometimes go to the gym after we have finished riding the horses”.

For 2018 they have some exciting young horses coming through, but good result at Badminton is vital for both riders as it will help their chances of team selection for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September 2018.   

Written By Ellie Kelly