In Germany, Jennifer Hoffmann making history for USA

10 years ago ilse Comments Off on In Germany, Jennifer Hoffmann making history for USA


VERDEN, Germany, Aug. 6–Jennifer Hoffmann is floating on cloud nine with finishes in the top 10 in both the five and six-year-old divisions at the World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses.

Jennifer finished ninth in the five-year-old final on her stallion, Florentinus, Saturday after placing eighth in the qualifier and placed eighth in the six-year-old qualifications AND won her group on her stallion, Ratzinger, and finished 14th in the final.

She is almost embarrassed at just how excited she is to be getting a blanket from the world championships!

It took two days into these world championships for it to dawn on her that, the records show, she may be the only USA rider to have made it to the final in both the five and six -year-old divisions in the same year of these young horse competitions that draw entries from around the world.

Jennifer Hoffmann on her own Ratzinger V, winners of Group 4 in the qualification round of the six year old young horse finals © 2011 ilse schwarz/

Jennifer and her husband, Jürgen, relocated to Gestut Letter Berg, in the Munsterland district of Germany, at the end of 2010. They arrived from the sunny mild winter of Encinitas, California to one of the strongest cold snaps Germany had seen in years.

“It was -18C (0F)  and heavy snow everywhere,” she recalls. “My husky didn’t even want to get out of the car!”

The decision to move was not an easy one, but Jennifer’s father-in-law had passed away leaving her husbands’ mother, who has significant health issues, alone. With no other siblings to help, the decision was, in that respect an easy one. Already somewhat emotional after her show success, Jennifer tears up talking about her family in California.

It is obvious that she misses them tremendously, but life is about timing and grabbing opportunities and for now, Germany is the right place for them to be.

From a career standpoint, there can be no questioning this decision.

“My goal is definitely to go as far as I can and to try to make other teams for the USA in the future for championship competitions,” she said. “I have my eight-year-old stallion Rubinio 55 (Rubin-Royal x Florestan 1) who has been successful at Prix St. Georges this year and both of my Grand Prix horses, Farinelli and the nine-year-old Delacroix. Both should compete this fall.”

Farinelli has already shown at Grand Prix in the U.S. and is about ready to show again here after recovering from a minor but time consuming injury on the trip to Germany.

Rubinio 55 and Jennifer Hoffmann enter their first qualifier for the Nürnberger Burgpokal © 2011 ilse schwarz/

Of course, there is Florentinus, who is qualified for the bundeschampionat and is currently on top of the leaderboard for the LVM Youngster Championat, and Ratzinger “plus a whole barn full of great young dressage horses from Mr. Voss, owner of the Gestut Letter Berg.”

For now, there is no time limit on the stay in Germany.

She is really enjoying the German shows and the situation at Gestut Letter Berg is working perfectly.

“They were looking for both a top rider for the stallions and young horses,” she said, “plus a trainer for the riders and apprentices. Jürgen and myself fit the job description perfectly. Mr Voss is always sourcing young horses and stallions, and I found both Florentinus and Ratzinger at his farm.”

Jennifer Hoffmann and Florentinus V, through to the finals of the Five Year Old World Young Horse Championships © 2011 ilse schwarz/

Jennifer and her husband will continue traveling back to the U.S. for clinics but also now find themselves in the perfect situation to help people not only searching for their future equine partners but also “to assist Americans to come to Germany with their horses and help them with their stay, travel plans, teaching, etc. Working students and riders are also always welcome, basically  our doors are always open!”

Jennifer  was born in the U.S. but trained from an early age in Germany. She became the first American to achieve her Bereiter FN at the German federation complex in Warendorf. At the time, she also met her husband and after 10 years in Germany she and Jürgen moved to California.

She continues to train with Jürgen, and I had to ask how they manage being married and training together.

With big smiles on their faces, “we are getting divorced every other day!!” Jürgen was quick to make sure that I realized this was a joke and went on to explain, “We keep it all on a very professional level. What happens at the barn stays there when we leave and go home.

“We actually work together very well. Jennifer is very competitive and I am very strict. She may say it feels like so and so, and I will tell her that is fine, but the judges need to see it like this.

“We are at so many shows here that your eye gets super trained and you can really focus and adjust your training at home.”

They are united in stating that judges are now really rewarding horses that are loose and forward, fluid, supple and, of course, mistake free. It is exciting that this is the way the sport is going.