Paying Forward Pays Off Big Time for Caroline Roffman

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Caroline Roffman and Accent Aigu FRH at Raleigh CDI-W. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman and Accent Aigu FRH at Raleigh CDI-W. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

RALEIGH, North Carolina, May 30–In mid-March, Caroline Roffman heard that a young rider in Colorado could not afford a professional musical freestyle. She had two freestyles and one that she thought would fit the need. So Caroline sent him the freestyle as a gift.

Exactly one week later, the 20-year-old resident of Wellington, Florida was offered a 14-year-old Hanoverian Grand Prix horse at no cost by an American living in Germany. The owner, Carrie Schopf, said that Accent Aigu FRH was breaking her heart — a sweetheart at home and the devil in the show ring.

On Saturday, May 30, Caroline rode “Aki,” as she calls him, down the centerline for the FEI Young Rider Individual test at the Raleigh CDI-W. Six minutes later she and “Aki” walked out with the first place score of 68.509 per cent, no spooking, no tension, no difficulties.

The result most likely moves the combination into the top 12 in the United States and that carries with it an invitation to the U.S. Equestrian Federation Festival of Champions national championships in Gladstone, New Jersey at the end of June.

Accent Aigu was acquired by Schopf one year after being shown as a five-year-old in the Bundeschampionate by Holger Finken.

Fast forward to 2009.

Schopf came to Wellington in winter with several horses. She felt she had taken Accent Aigu as far possible. She found the three-fourths Thoroughbred horse was difficult, hot and spooky — “at home an angel, at shows the devil,” Caroline recalls Schopf telling her.

She discussed the horse with her trainers, Danish Olympian Lars Petersen and Melissa Taylor.

“There was a lot of skepticism,” she said.

“For me, it was love at first sight.”

Caroline is six feet tall (1.828m) but fit the 16.3-hand (170cm) horse comfortably and they looked a good match on the four occasions she tried the horse or, more likely, Carrie was checking out Caroline.

“Lars loved the horse,” she said, “and so did Melissa.”

Carrie insisted on going to Petersen’s training facility where Caroline keeps her horses to check out the care and feed and even drove behind Caroline trailering the horse to see how she drove. “That was probably the most nerve wracking experience of the lot,” Caroline said.

Finally, she insisted that Caroline agree never to part with “Aki” without Carrie’s approval.

Two weeks later Caroline competed in two classes at one of the Palm Beach shows.

“All eyes were no us with every one waiting to see what would happen,” she said. Nothing untoward happened and they were scored at about 66 per cent.

Caroline and her trainers decided to make the effort to qualify for the Festival of Champions at Gladstone. As there were no more qualifying competitions in Palm Beach, that meant going to a CDI1* at Lexington, Kentucky and then going to North Carolina for the Raleigh show, a trip of 2,000-mile (3,200km).

“I never thought that something like this would happen when I gave the freestyle to the young rider in Colorado,” Caroline said. “Maybe that’s what paying forward is. You do something simply because it’s the right thing to do. That’s its own reward.”