USA’s Caroline Roffman 1st Up in Aachen Dressage Program
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
AACHEN, Germany, June 25–Caroline Roffman of the United States will ride Her Highness O in her debut at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO and by the luck of the draw will be the first rider in this year’s dressage competition at the globe’s foremost horse show.
In the Prix St. Georges which is one of two events in which she is competing–the other is the Under-25 and will ride Sagacious as the first American ever in the division–eight of the other 13 riders are Olympic and world championship veterans.
“I’m inspired,” she replied when asked if she was intimidated by the lineuo. “If you want to be one of the best with them what’s better than to be around them. It raises my bar.
“How great it is to go first and the next rider is Nadine Capellmann”–the 2008 Olympic team gold medalist for Germany.
‘My name might be mentioned in the same sentence. It’s an honor.”
Caroline, aged 24 of Wellington, Florida, is one of six United States dressage riders at this show that is as close to a world championship as it gets with Nations Cups in dressage, eventing and jumping as well as top driving and vaulting.
Steffen Peters of San Diego, California and Legolas; Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California and Rafalca, Shelly Francis of Loxahatchee, Florida and Doktor, and Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida make up the United States team for the CDIO5* Nations Cup. Shelly is also competng Danilo in the small tour while Susan Dutta of Wellington, Florida will ride Currency DC in the CDI4*.
It is also the first Nations Cup team led by Robert Dover, the six-time Olympian who was appointed Technical Advisor/Chef d’Equipe of U.S. dressage earlier this year.
Her Highness O, a 10-year-old Hanoverian mare (Hohenstein x Welmeyer), was a broodmare out in a field just 2 1/2 years ago.
In 12 starts at small tour in Florida and France this year, Caroline and Her Highness have notched four first and five second places.
Caroline has not met many of the top riders but was working her horse in the warmup arena with Germany’s Isabell Werth, the most decorated Olympic rider in history, and described the experience as “like Christmas” riding alongside people whose posters she decorated her room with growing up.
And when she was a young rider she followed the successes of some of the Europeans she will competing against in the Under-25 division with Sagacious.
Her only disappointment, she said, was that Al Guden, the owner of Sagacious, could not be in Aachen because he was injured in a car accident in Wellington.
This Under-25 class is virtually a world championship and her age makes it the last chance to compete in the division here.
“I have to pinch myself that I’m here,” she said but has to put into perspective.
“If it’s a 20 x 60 meter arena I have to ride the same. I don’t know what my horse might do… i can’t train for that.
“It’s a horse show. I cannot treat it any differenty. The horse doesn’t know it’s Aachen.
“Sagacious doesnt know who the other horses and riders are. Her Highness doesn’t know she is first.
“It’s only my head that can get in the way.”
If things go badly, a stall that sells coffee with rum is only 20 steps from her stall “so I can quickly forget.”
Caroline also wished there was the same love of the sport in the U.S. as is displayed here.
“There are so many people here,” she said, “we’re having so much fun. Everything is here, unbelievable. It’s like being at a World Equestrian Games. Everyone is excited to be here, excited to watch, people are so into it. It makes you realize this is why you do it.
“People kept saying jusy wait, you’re not going to believe it.
“I do believe it. To be here is awesome. It’s unbelievable.”