Jacqueline Fleckenstein’s HITS Indio Circuit championship last winter in the amateur-owner jumper division was just a small notch on her belt. The 20-year-old’s success isn’t limited to the jumper ring; she’s won championships in the amateur-owner hunter divisions and the adult equitation classes as well, sometimes winning classes in all three rings at the same show.
After graduating from high school in Seattle, Wash., Fleckenstein attended college for a year and then moved to Jeff and Shelley Campf’s farm, Oz Incorporated, in Canby, Ore., and has thrived in her role as a working student.
Though she’s been showing for 10 years, Fleckenstein’s thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her trainers.
“I love it. It’s the best thing to happen to me. I’ve gotten all kinds of experience,” said Fleckenstein. “It actually gives me more time to train and work with my horses than if I worked somewhere else or went to school. Jeff and Shelley are really great about fitting me into lessons or working with me privately, and I’ve improved more than I can even believe.”
Shelley described Fleckenstein as a dedicated rider who has a distinct rapport with many horses. “She has this amazing ability to have horses do amazing things for her,” said Shelley. “She’s an amateur, and when she makes a mistake the horses still perform for her. There’s just something about her ride. The horses are so positive under her in every circumstance.”
Outside the barn, Fleckenstein pitches in with the Campf’s business whenever she can. “I get to help Shelley with her horse shows as she runs six A-rated horse shows in Wilsonville, as well as the AA-rated Country Classic, and I’ve learned about horse show management and how to put together and run a really great horse show. I’ve also been involved with advertising for Shelley’s computer software Horse Show Express, which is a really great program that, among other things, allows trainers to fill out their entry blanks automatically. I also help do everything from building courses to paying bills, and I couldn’t be happier anywhere else,” said Fleckenstein.
Shelley agreed: “She’s transformed since she’s been with us. She had never had a job, and the structure of working was foreign to her. Like many young people, she believed she had a tremendous work ethic. But she wasn’t used to being on someone else’s schedule. Now, she’s like my right arm. This [relationship] is great for both of us.”
Fleckenstein’s hard work has paid off in many ways, especially with Oscar, with whom she won the mid-circuit championship and the grand circuit championship in Indio. The Dutch Warmblood gelding is owned by her parents’ company, Breakout Enterprises LLC.
“I had tons of success this summer on Oscar, winning almost every amateur-owner jumper championship as well as winning the regional $10,000 Spring National Grand Prix in Washington; this was both Oscar’s and my first grand prix ever, and we beat my trainer, Jeff Campf, by 1 second. Jeff went right before me in the jump-off and so I could see how he rode it. I’m always competitive, so I thought we should go for it,” said Fleckenstein.
The pair also won the U.S. Equestrian Federation title in Zone 9 for the amateur-owner jumpers. Other impressive placings included a blue ribbon in the $10,000 Early Summer #2 Mini Prix in Wilsonville and third in the $35,000 Wild Turkey Farm Grand Prix with a double-clear trip at the Country Classic.
Fleckenstein found Oscar through the Campfs and has been getting to know him over the past show season. “He’s funny. He’s one of the quirkiest horses I’ve ever been around. He really picks out who he likes, and, if he likes you, then he’s a real winner. Both of us are super competitive, so we’re perfect for each other. It’s strange. He’ll spook all over the warm-up ring, but once he gets in the show ring, he’s all business,” said Fleckenstein of the 10-year-old gelding.
“One of the hardest things I had to learn with him was how to stay on him, as he’s an incredibly careful jumper,” she added. “He’s kind of a tricky ride, but my trainers really worked with me to help me learn him inside and out, and we ended up with a partnership and friendship that helped us win some big feats this year.”
Fleckenstein’s attention to detail has also helped her move up the levels. “The basic flatwork that Shelley taught is really what allowed me to excel when I moved up to the bigger jumper classes. I think too many people take flatwork for granted, but I think it’s the most important thing a rider can know and practice. Before a couple of the grand prix classes this year, instead of a jump school with Jeff, I was begging for a flat lesson with Shelley,” said Fleckenstein.
In the hunter ring, Fleckenstein showed her sister Nicole’s Savoir Faire in the amateur-owner division and earned the WCHR Northwest Region reserve championship in the division in 2005. The gelding was sold during the HITS Desert Circuit in 2006 after Fleckenstein acquired Oscar.
She appreciates what each division has to offer. “Obviously, the jumpers are what I focus the most on, but I think that competing in hunter and equitation classes really hones my concentration and attention to detail.
A jack-of-all-trades himself, Oscar competed in the amateur-owner hunter division a few times with Fleckenstein. “I ended up being champion in the amateur-owner hunter division, and then was second in the $10,000 jumper classic on Sunday. I was also champion in the amateur-owner jumpers, though I only rode in two classes on the days the hunters weren’t running,” said Fleckenstein laughing.
When she’s not busy working long hours as a working student, Fleckenstein enjoys experimenting in art. “I really like drawing and painting and photography, and I’d have to say Ansel Adams is my favorite photographer,” said Fleckenstein.
She plans to continue in the amateur-owner jumper division and will return to the HITS Desert Circuit this season. “I’ll compete in Thermal this year with Oscar as well as my new jumper Valido, and I can only hope that I’ll be able to continue with the kind of success that I had last circuit and over the course of this year,” she said.