Temecula, Calif.—March 9
Jennifer Hoffman had a banner weekend, winning the CDI3* Grand Prix (70.39%) and Grand Prix Special (70.31%) aboard Lisa Bradley’s Finesse and the Prix St. Georges (70.58%) and Intermediaire I (71.71%) on her own Rondoro Noblesse.
The show was launched on relatively short notice after the end of the AWCDF. That was a disappointment for many California professionals, and especially for Hoffmann and her husband and training partner Jürgen Hoffmann. The couple had only recently returned to California after several years in Germany, counting on the West Coast still having a viable CDI circuit that would enable them to fully develop horses and clients without spending too much time away from home.
The Hoffmanns urged contemporaries to step in as organizers, and Jennifer was beyond grateful when Horse and Rider Boutique owner Barbara Biernat decided to organize a CDI for the region’s riders. It blossomed into a full slate of young rider, junior and amateur qualifiers along with national divisions thanks to community-wide support.
Jennifer’s Grand Prix partner, 12-year-old Finesse (Festrausch-Breanna, Brentano II), was bred in the U.S. by Jennifer Mason. This was her first CDI. “She was a little excited in the warm-up, and she always tries so hard that it’s always a matter of keeping her settled,” Jennifer said. “Today she was perfect, and I’m delighted that she earned her first 70 score. We’ve always believed she has international quality.”
Nick Wagman and Zenith finished second in the Grand Prix (69.47%), while Claire Manhard and Wilfonia were second in the Special (67.97%).
Beverly Gepfer’s Zenith was purchased as an amateur horse but turned out to be too hot. On Friday, Wagman did an impressive job harnessing his energy and showing off Zenith’s big, free-flowing movement: They were a close second. During Sunday’s Special, the lightning escaped the bottle with a premature start in the first walk-to-piaffe transition, “a particularly fragile spot in the test,” Wagman explained.
“Overall I’m super pleased,” said Wagman. “The beginning of the test felt great, and he was coping with his energy. But I had to make him wait. The more you make him wait, the hotter he gets.”
Jennifer’s small tour winner, the 9-year-old Austrian Warmblood stallion Rondoro Noblesse (Rosengold—Alexa, Latour), earned several small tour CDI wins in 2019.
“I’ve never had a horse who is so complete in everything,” she said. She started him from scratch as a 6-year-old, and he’s come far fast thanks to talent and temperament.
“He was a bit hot today, but his maturity is showing because I could still go in the ring and get things done,” Jennifer said. “He’s letting me ride him even when he’s jazzed up.”
Windy, cool weather and youth soccer games within earshot added to the amped up atmosphere, but the stallion’s attentiveness is yet another sign that Grand Prix may be in the works later this year, Jennifer said.
Daniela Groenke finished second and third in the CDI Intermediaire I on Sambuca and Bardolino, respectively.
The 13-year-old Hanoverian mare, Sambuca, is another hot one, so much so that Groenke usually brings a companion pony along to keep the mare at ease in the stable. However, new FEI rules complicated that strategy this time. Plan B was a large stuffed animal bunny to travel with and keep in her stall.
“That seemed to help a little bit,” said Groenke, who also credited the spacious, bright FEI stabling at Galway Downs Equestrian Center and the venue’s calm, pleasant atmosphere. “She can be tense and nervous, but today she was really there for me.”
Sambuco’s stablemate, the 9-year-old Oldenburg Bardolino, was close behind. He’s currently schooling Grand Prix, but Groenke’s priority is building show experience, hence her gratitude for the Pacific Coast Dressage show’s arrival. She hails from Hope, Idaho, but winters in Southern California. “It’s my first time in Temecula, after hearing about it for a few years now. I love it and, knock on wood, we’ll be back,” she said.