Jennifer Hoffmann Living Her Dream in Germany Working to Ride for USA
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Sept. 17, 2014
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Jennifer Hoffmann misses Oreo cookies and milk that remind her of home in California but admits she loves living the dream of developing and competing horses from youngsters to Grand Prix in Germany that she hopes will lead to being on an American team.
With, Jürgen, her husband, coach and constant companion, Jennifer is coming up on four years back in Germany that began for family reasons and has become a lifestyle that she is working toward being on an American team.
In those four years, Jennifer has moved up to international Grand Prix XXXL Rubinio NRW, a Westfalen stallion that while still living in California in 2009 she qualified as a six-year-old for the World Young Horse Championships in Verden, Germany.
She and the 11-year-old black stallion competed in their first three Grand Prix over the summer, the latest at Verden and for the first time in front of Robert Dover, the United States chef d’equipe, who had high praise for the combination. It was also the first CDI where there were several other American riders that made the event “cool” for Jennifer.
In their debut CDI Grand Prix, at Achleiten, Austria Jennifer and Rubinio (Rubin Royal x Florestan I) placed third in the Freestyle behind Victoria Max-Theurer and Augustin OLD of Austria and Switzerland’s Marcela Krinke Susmelj on Smeyers Molberg. It was the American pair’s first performance of their Freestyle.
Among her successes in Europe was competing Florentinus V at the World Young Horse Championships at five years old and Ratzinger V as a six-year-old in 2011, the only USA rider to have made it to the global final in both divisions in the same year. She has also qualified for the pinnacle of young horse championships in Germany, the Bundeschampionate, as well as competing Rubinio to qualify for the Nürnberger Burgpokal, the most prestigious series for young small tour horses.
Another measure of how much Jennifer has used the opportunity to advance in the sport in Germany, she received the Golden Riders Medal at a packed gala evening in Verden last month. The award was earmed for winning a prestigious Prix St George/Intermediaire I class 10 consecutive times and/or placeing 1st to 5th in Grand Prix or Special classes
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 in Warendorf. At the time, she also met the man who became her husband 24 years ago and after 10 years in Germany the pair moved to California.
She and Jürgen based themselves in Encinitas in Southern California
When they returned to Germany, it was to train and compete the horses of Gestut Letter Berg, in the Munsterland district of Germany, as well as their own horses.
“I’m very lucky to be in this position,” she said. “We have a great owner and great up and coming horses.
“I’m Germanized. I love Germany and they have accepted me really well. I feel comfortable being in different country.
“But I really miss home, my family. I’m a Californian. I still wear my t-shirts and flip flops and eat Oreo cookies and milk. I never eat a currywurst,” she said referring to the curried sausage that seems a staple at horse shows in Germany.
“I’m trying to live my dream. It’s all we do.”
They recently bought a new truck and racked up 6,800 miles (11,000km) in just four months hauling their horses to shows
“I’m lucky to have a husband who is so involved,” she said. “We work so good together as a trainer and rider.”
Jürgen jokes that he doesn’t know which is harder, “being a husband or a trainer.”
Although her goal is to ride for the United States, Jennifer admits: “I’m a realist. If the horse is good enough to be on a team it will happen. If my time comes and the horse is performing to its potential as a team horse we’ll find a way to do what it takes.”
That means going through the process of competing at the American championships that are typically selection trials for championships even though she does not have a sponsor to help pay the expenses of shipping the horse to the U.S.
“If we get the scores, we’ll be there.”
She hopes that Rubinio will be posting Grand Prix scores of 70 per cent by winter.
“I would love to be on a team with Ruby,” she said. “He’s the best horse I’ve had so far. I want to keep him healthy and sound to fit into that role.”
Jennifer and Jürgen sold their stables when they left California, but kept a house in San Diego.
“When I’m done chasing my big dreams,” she said, “I definitely would love to go back.”