Jessica Springsteen

Jessica Springsteen
International Equestrian Federation

Jessica Springsteen’s confidence rises with ‘most talented horse’ of her life

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Jessica Springsteen believes she found the horse that can help her accomplish long-term show jumping goals, such as qualifying for her first Longines FEI World Cup™ Final, World Equestrian Games and Olympics.

Springsteen, the daughter of famous rocker Bruce Springsteen, has been riding Cynar VA for about one year, not an incredibly long time, but is already gushing.

“He’s definitely the most talented horse that I’ve ever had,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Springsteen has been competitive in U.S. jumping for several years despite her youth (she turns 25 on Dec. 30). She was the 14th-ranked rider in the final standings when the four-rider 2012 Olympic team was announced.

By April 2014, Springsteen had risen to No. 2 on the U.S. Equestrian rider/horse list before the horse, Vindicat W, was sidelined by leg tendon problems.

The injury severely harmed Springsteen’s Rio Olympic chances as her rider/horse ranking plummeted. This past April, she did not make the short list of 10 rider/horse combinations for U.S. Olympic team consideration.

Still, Springsteen is younger than all but two U.S. Olympic jumping riders from the last four Games. And she still has plenty of promise.

In September, Springsteen won her first five-star Grand Prix, the biggest victory of her career. She’s now fifth in the U.S. jumping rankings. The top four riders are all Olympians and all at least 10 years older.

Springsteen hoped to reach the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final in Omaha in April, but her results in early qualifiers have not been as strong as she hoped.

Springsteen and Cynar VA placed seventh in Toronto on Wednesday, while U.S. Olympians McLain Ward and Kent Farrington went one-two, followed by four non-Americans.

“Even if I don’t make it next year [to the final], there’s always that year after,” she said, emphasizing that Cynar VA is still a “newer ride” for her.

Springsteen can’t possibly put her finger on 2020 Olympic chances so far out, especially given what happened in the last cycle.

“It’s so hard in this sport because everything goes into timing,” she said. “You have to have the right horse at the right time, and you have to be performing really well. The horse I have right now definitely has the ability. He’s a true championship horse.”

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Jessica Springsteen, Georgina Bloomberg face tough road to making Olympics

Jessica Springsteen
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Making the U.S. Olympic equestrian team is much about timing, and neither Jessica Springsteen nor Georgina Bloomberg has been fortunate in that respect in recent months.

The show jumpers are entered in this week’s Longines Masters of Los Angeles among several Olympic hopefuls, including three of the four members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic show jumping team.

But neither Springsteen nor Bloomberg is riding her best horse in L.A. Springsteen’s Vindicat W and Bloomberg’s Juvina have been hampered by leg tendon problems for months and may not be able to compete again until next year, if at all before the Rio Games.

So Springsteen, daughter of rocker Bruce Springsteen, and Bloomberg, daughter of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, add that adversity on top of trying to beat out more experienced Americans by next summer to make a four-rider Olympic team in an event where the U.S. quartet won gold in 2004 and 2008.

“So much depends on having the right horse and having everything working in your favor at the right time, your horse being peaked and your horse being sound,” said Melanie Smith-Taylor, a 1984 U.S. Olympic show jumping team champion who has covered the last seven Olympics for NBC.

Springsteen, 23, in particular looked like a hopeful for Rio 2016 even before the London 2012 Olympics, when she was a teenager showing promise in a sport where athletes in their 40s, 50s and even 60s have won medals. She’s been competing since she was a kindergartener.

She was the 14th-ranked rider in the final standings when the four-rider 2012 Olympic team was announced. Springsteen’s farm purchased Vindicat W, which a Brit piloted to Olympic gold in London, one month after the Games. By April 2014, she and Vindicat W were ranked No. 2 on the U.S. Equestrian rider/horse list.

The complete 2016 U.S. Olympic show jumping team selection procedures haven’t been published yet, but it’s anticipated that the team of four riders and horses will be chosen from a list of at least 10 rider/horse combinations finalized in April.

That list of at least 10 will be made up primarily of riders and horses whose competition results rank them high on lists such as the one Springsteen and Vindicat W were No. 2 on in April 2014.

With Vindicat W out, Springsteen’s ranked No. 51 and No. 58 on that list’s most recent update last Friday, though she won the most recent rider of the week honor following a win on another horse in a Vienna, Austria, event earlier this month.

This came after Springsteen became a Gucci model and was named by one British outlet as one of the world’s 50 most marketable athletes over the next three years.

Springsteen’s confidence was higher last spring, when she had Vindicat W and was among 10 finalists for the U.S. team for the World Equestrian Games, the sport’s prestigious, once-every-four-years event. Springsteen did not make that team, and the U.S. won bronze without her in Normandy, France.

“It really felt like the Olympics was the next goal,” Springsteen said in a recent phone interview, before the Vienna victory. “It’s definitely a disappointment to not be in contention for that right now, to not have a horse I can compete with. Right now, I’m looking for a new horse.”

Bloomberg, 32, came back from December 2013 childbirth to win the Central Park Grand Prix in September 2014 riding her top horse, Juvina.

She returned to headline the event last weekend but without Juvina.

“There is, in my opinion, no horse that’s more talented than she is in the world. It’s always the best one that’s injured,” Bloomberg joked in Central Park before last week’s event. “That’s the way it works. [Juvina] would be sort of my first choice for Rio, and it does not look like she will be back for next year. Obviously I’m hoping, but I have a couple of other horses that are stepping up and hopefully will surprise me. It’s still something I will work my ass off to try to accomplish.”

Bloomberg was the fourth-ranked U.S. rider in March, when Juvina first suffered the tendon injury.

She was part of the U.S. team at the Pan American Games in July in Toronto, where she was the third-best American out of four in the individual jumping competition.

Now, she is ranked eighth and ninth on two other U.S. Equestrian rankings lists where Springsteen is 23rd and 21st, respectively. They’re looking up at the likes of Olympic team event champions McLain Ward and Beezie Madden, who will be 40 and 52 years old, respectively, come Rio 2016.

“It’s hard in our sport because obviously the rider’s only 50 percent,” said Bloomberg, who in her career has suffered a concussion from a fall and broken her back, collarbone, an ankle and wrist. “You’ll see a lot of talented riders that work very hard and are very deserving but will never make the Olympic Games just because they don’t have the right horse at the right time.”

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