By Taryn Young
We recently welcomed renowned dressage rider and trainer, Jennifer Hoffmann, for a clinic hosted at Equestrian Events – the Chicagoland stable I’ve called home for eight years. Coaching ten horse and rider combinations from Training level to Grand Prix, Jennifer packed in a weekend full of knowledge and exercises that we as equestrians will happily apply to our future rides.
When I was offered an opportunity to ride with Jennifer, I was curious to know more about her, her training style, and her equestrian accolades. After a quick Google search, I realized that she was no stranger to the dressage world but a prestigious rider in Europe with many distinguished awards who had just returned to the States.
I rode, audited, dined with, and interviewed Jennifer. I found that not only is she a wonderful and well-versed horsewoman – she is fair, passionate, and has spent time with some of the greatest dressage trainers of our time (US team coach Robert Dover, Klaus Balkenhol, Jean Bemelmans, and Helen Langehanenberg, to name a few).
Jennifer moved to Palos Verdes, California when she was six years old. All of her neighbors rode horses, so her parents bought a pony and her equine love affair began. As a child, Jennifer became familiar with all disciplines from western to hunters but when she began eventing, it led her to dressage. At 16, she was offered a one year working student opportunity in Germany. That one year led to residing in Europe for twenty-two years, where she’d work her way up the ranks and gain respect from the dressage world globally.
Germany is where she met her husband and horsemen, Jürgen – and their training and sales business ‘German Dressage’ began simply founded on the adage “German Tradition, American Pride.”
Germany was a special place for Jennifer. She wanted to learn all she could about Classical Dressage. She learned how to be competitive, the drive to succeed, and gained understanding of the German people, the breeders, the trainers, and the riders. She gained the respected title of Bereiter FN after years of studies and was proud of her hard work in a foreign country. As an American, she quickly realized it would be difficult to gain the respect of some of the very best dressage competitors, but after medals and top placings at Bundeschampionate, World Young Horse Championships, International CDIs and Grand Prix wins, she gained global recognition. The American girl began to find her way.
After years of European success, Jürgen and Jennifer’s ‘German Dressage’ has recently found its way back to California. Their decision to once again establish themselves in the US was based on family but it hasn’t stopped Jennifer’s drive and determination within the sport.
Jennifer’s goals in the near future are not easily attainable, but she is without a doubt motivated and one to watch. In 2020, her sights are set on the Pan Am qualifiers with her 8-year-old stallion, Rondoro Noblesse, a licensed stallion by Rosengold (Rohdiamant x Diamond Hit) x Latour (Landgraf). This year, the pair finished with a 71+% average and landed in 7th place for the Pan Am list. “He’s a horse who is absolutely able to consistently score about 75% and we will aim for the National Championships in August. He’s a horse of a lifetime and many of us are certain his talent lies in the Grand Prix.” At the National Championships, she’ll also be aboard her 5-year-old stallion, Furst Florianus (Florentinus x Lord Loxley) who has literally won every 5 year old class they’ve entered – with scores in the mid 80’s. Her bond with Furst Florianus is extra special, as she rode his sire Florentinus as a 4-year-old and trained him up to Grand Prix.
In three words, Jennifer describes her training as fair, passionate, and consequent. She wants the horse to easily understand what is expected of him and always praises him when he reacts positively. She states that “the horse learns through correct repetition. If you are not exact and thorough with your aids, how can you expect the same thing from your horse?” Jennifer is extremely passionate about her riding, her horses, and the sport overall. “I really want to make sure that I am always giving 100%. I love this sport and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think to myself ‘What can I do to perfect the harmony in the arena?’ Making the journey from a young 3-year-old to an International Grand Prix horse is the reason I live every day. It’s my oxygen.”
After riding in front of Jennifer for two days, her dedication and love for the sport is eminent. Her positive feedback and praise for the horse stands out above all. “I really love teaching clinics. I love to help horses and riders achieve their goals and follow their dreams. We all have a journey and we’re all in it together.”
Jennifer plans to head down centerline at this year’s National Championships at Lamplight Equestrian Center – conveniently located just minutes away from Equestrian Events. There have already been rumblings of welcoming her back and as the rider list gets longer, we sure hope it happens.
“As a rider, we really never stop trying to be better in the saddle. Nobody is perfect,” Jennifer stated, and that’s one statement all equestrians can all agree with.
About the Writer: Taryn Young is an advertising executive by day and an avid equestrian by nights and weekends. She is the founder of the equestrian lifestyle account – @WarmbloodsandWine – and resides in St. Charles, IL. She’s a USDF Bronze Medalist who competes in recognized dressage shows with her gelding, Rayne Dance, regularly and enjoys family, fitness, and her corgi. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @WarmbloodsandWine on Instagram.