Caroline Roffman Starts Her Highness in First CDI Grand Prix at Global Dessage Festival

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Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O competing at a national Grand Prix in Wellington, Florida. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O competing at a national Grand Prix in Wellington, Florida. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 22, 2014–Caroline Roffman rides Her Highness O in the first international Grand Prix on Thursday in another step she hopes will win her a place on a United States team at a world championship on a horse that just four years ago was a broodmare with no mounted competition record.

The drive for success by the 26-year-old Caroline comes after a roller-coaster year.

She experienced the high of riding Sagacious HF to second place in the Under-25 division and Her Highness in small tour at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen, Germany.

On returning to her Wellington stables, she had to deal with the breakup of what had been a successful training and horse sales partnership with Endel Ots that had been building to pay the cost of fulfilling her goals of competing at the top of the sport

Caroline got the ride on Her Highness as she calls “Hanna” after winning a national championship in 2010, the same year the International Equestrian Federation named her the “Rising Star.”

The then owner decided she wanted to sell Her Highness and Caroline began training the Hanoverian mare (Hohenstein x Weltmeyer) from the ground up as she had been a broodmare with four foals on the ground. A couple of years later she figured Her Highness had potential enough that she arranged with the owner to buy her on terms and admits the owner made it easy on her.

Caroline Roffman with her mother, Andrea, and father, Stuart, at Aachen. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman with her mother, Andrea, and father, Stuart, at Aachen. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Even so it was a struggle for Caroline as her father, a successful businessman, had supported Caroline financially through young riders but wanted her to make it on her own and not be sponsored by the family, as many people assumed she was.

Her mother and father divorced several years ago and her mother and Al Guden, the owner of Sagacious, are partners.

“I’m an easy assumption,” she told dressage-news.com. “They see nice horses and good results ”

My dad taught me business, how to run a business. He was providing me horses through young riders.

“He came from nothing and made himself. He wants me to do the same.

“I’m the same as everyone else. I pay rent for my own stable and all the bills. It’s probably safe to say if I fell flat on my face Al and my dad would be there to pick me up. But I have too much pride for that.

“People ask me about sponsorship and why do I need a sponsor. I live commission check to commission check.”

Caroline has had considerable national championship success with Her Highness but now feels it is “time to challenge myself a little bit more and move to the big time.”

Caroline Roffman in the victory parade for the Under-25 Division at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman in the victory parade for the Under-25 Division at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

She has learned a lot from riding Sagacious and a career highlight of being runner-up in the Under-25 division at Aachen, the pinnacle of the sport.

“He owes me nothing… if he wants to do the big stuff he will. Al has owned him since a foal. We’ll always own him and take care of him. He has done enough and he is healthy and fit.

“For me, the mare is the up and comer, my focus is more on her and will be. Obviously, she’s younger, a lot more years ahead of her. Lucky me to have a couple of good horses to ride.”

The breakup of the Lionshare farm partnership with Endel Ots that had operated for two years was difficult initially.

“I’m a strong person,” she said, “not afraid of doing things on my own. Our business was together but we were very much separate individuals. It was scary when you split and you don’t know how it’s going to go. It was just like a divorce, deciding about the kids, frequently flyer miles. We lost only one client.”

And she and Endel have remained friendly and take account of each other’s best interests.

She has 22 horses to handle now and “I’m one person.”

No days off, no hours being silly or wasting time though she has six working students who are hard working and ambitious.

“We have a lot of fun,” she said, “being in Peter Pan land, a girl of 25 at the helm of the ship. We have really great clients. It’s a lot of work, it never ends. You have to do it to be ready for these shows. It’s not like you can buy a new pair of cleats for soccer.

“Sometimes at 5 o’clock at night and I still have to ride my show horses that’s the time when I feel a bit overwhelmed. But the clients come first.”

The business sold 30 horses last year and have sold six so far this year which bodes well for the rest of 2014.

Her goals for the year?

“For me it’s development of the horses. I want to see my mare achieve her full potential. My clients have their goals. I get a lot of joy in everybody reaching their goal.

“I’m young. It really is the journey and I’m on the best part of the journey.

“The beginning of a roller coaster. I’m strapped in and ready to go crazy.

“I’m a goal-oriented person. My goal is to do the CDI Grand Prix and see where it goes from there. My mare would try beyond own ability. She’s already doing more than she should. She does it out of her heart.”