The Hampton Classic star Jessica Springsteen shares how lessons learned from falling can keep you grounded.
"I have always loved horses,” says professional equestrian and model Jessica Springsteen. “I grew up on a farm in New Jersey, so I lived by tons of different animals. I started going straight to the barn after school every day, and then from there, my love of riding grew.” Springsteen got her first show pony around age 8 (a gray named Shamrock), and the lessons learned those early years have stuck with her ever since. “He was old and grumpy, like typical ponies. He threw me off almost every day, but I learned so much,” she says. “He would stop in the middle of my rounds to eat grass. I [would fly] right over the back. So he definitely had a lot of character.”
Growing up as the daughter of “The Boss,” it would have been easy for Springsteen to rest on the spoils of her father’s legacy. Yet her sport instilled a deep-rooted resilience and drive that have catapulted her to the top of the leader board in show jumping. “I remember going to pony camp with him, where I literally fell off every single day,” she says of those early days with Shamrock. “I was so upset, but I think it teaches you resilience. It teaches you to get back on and keep going,” she says. “It’s different [from] any other sport because if you are playing soccer and you wanna get practice one day, the only person you are affecting is yourself. But when you are riding, you can’t just not go to the barn after school, as your horses need to stay in shape. They need taking care of, so there’s really no sort of skipping out.”
Springsteen entered the ring of her first Hampton Classic as a junior rider around age 13. “I have such good memories from that show, and the crowd is amazing. Everyone comes out to watch, and it’s always great weather. Normally, my family can come watch, so I just have so many fond memories competing out there,” she says.
Other than countless hours in the saddle, Springsteen maintains her model figure thanks to Pilates and Pure Barre classes, as well as running. “When I was competing in Madrid, I was able to run all through the beautiful parks there,” she shares. “It’s just a great way to explore and see what’s around you, so that’s kind of the one thing I make time for when I’m on the road.”
For novice riders, Springsteen recommends remembering that the sport should be pleasurable most of all. “You want to be riding a horse that keeps you feeling comfortable and confident, as you wanna be having fun at the end of the day,” she advises. “You want to make sure you are feeling good when you are riding because your horse can always feel that, so try not to get too overwhelmed or stressed by little things that go wrong here and there,” she adds.
“I think that’s one thing about this sport—that you never stop learning. Every day, there is something new,” she continues. “Working with animals is so unpredictable. They can’t speak to us. I really think that having a good mindset is half of the battle in this sport. I think it’s a really mental sport.”
Photography by: Kelly Klein