With a love for horses starting at a young age, Jessica Springsteen credits the patience and determination she has as a person to her cherished sport of equestrian show jumping. She spoke exclusively to Upscale Living magazine about how she has kept busy during the global pandemic, what impact horses have had on her life, and shares her Olympic dreams for 2021.
JESSICA, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I grew up in New Jersey, and when I was about thirteen, we moved full-time to our farm. We were always surrounded by animals as kids, which was really nice. We had chickens, cows, pigs – you name it! I started riding when I was about 4 or 5. My parents always said I was competitive straight away, but I just loved to be around horses. I never wanted to miss a lesson; I was committed and took it very seriously from a young age.
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC HORSE YOU FAVOR ABOVE THE OTHERS AND WHY?
There are so many different things I love about each of my horses. They all have their own personalities, so I could never choose a favorite.
EQUESTRIAN SPORT DOESN’T COME WITHOUT MISHAPS – HAVE YOU EVER BROKEN SOMETHING AND IF YES, WHAT?
I actually just broke my collarbone six weeks ago! It’s normal to have a fall here and there, but this was my first bad one. Luckily, my horse and I were both okay – I think every sport comes with a bit of risk. I was nervous coming back – but it’s important not to have fear when you’re in the ring as it translates to your horse. After that fall, I have been wearing a protective vest, which has given me a sense of security.
WHAT IS THE ROUTINE TO PREPARE FOR AN EVENT?
It varies from horse to horse, and which event. I try to focus on areas that my horse and I are weaker to try and give us confidence in the competition. Sometimes there is a certain exercise that works well with a specific horse. I always try to think about where we can improve and give more attention to that – but I also make sure my horse is feeling their best physically before a competition.
I SUPPOSE PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE, EVEN IN THE ELITE SHOW JUMPING WORLD. DO YOU AGREE?
Yes! I always say that is something that this sport has taught me the most. Working with animals, you have to be incredibly patient. This sport requires you to be in tune with your horses and the signals they give you.
HOW DO YOU STAY IN SUCH INCREDIBLE SHAPE?
Riding! I try to be healthy to give my body the fuel it needs to ride all day. I also love to run, and I try to do certain exercises that help me stay strong in the saddle.
YOUR BEAUTY REGIMEN IS ON POINT. FLAWLESS SKIN – WHAT ARE YOUR BEAUTY SECRETS?
I am outside all day, so I really try to cover myself from the sun, but it’s not easy. I wear a lot of sunscreens, and always wash my face the second I get home. I use a lot of moisturizers. I’m learning now to stick to what works for you, everyone’s skin responds differently to different products, and there’s so much out there now. It’s easy to want to pile on a million different serums, but I try to keep it simple and stick to what works for me.
APART FROM HORSES, WHAT IS YOUR PASSION IN LIFE?
I studied developmental psychology when I was at Duke, and I think if I wasn’t riding, I would have pursued a career in that. I loved working with kids and learning the way the human mind works.
YOU HAVE TRAVELED FOR BUSINESS AND PLEASURE. WHICH PLACES HAVE LEFT A LASTING IMPRESSION AND WHY?
Rome and Paris are my two favorite cities. We are so lucky to compete all over the world and to be able to ride in some of the most beautiful places.
WHERE IS HOME?
Right now, at home, I am living in Belgium, but New Jersey always feels like home to me.
YOU ARE AN ASPCA EQUINE WELFARE AMBASSADOR AND HAVE YOUR OWN ADORABLE DOGS. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GET BEHIND THIS CAUSE?
Animals do so much for us, in my sport, especially. Horses are really giving their all and putting their heart into it, and there is mutual trust. It is heartbreaking to learn about the horse and animal abuse that continues to this day, and it’s important for us to be their voice and put an end to it.
HOW ARE YOU, AS AN AMERICAN, DEALING WITH BEING ABROAD DURING THIS TIME?
I’m used to traveling back to America often and having my family coming to visit, so it definitely has been an adjustment. My parents love the sport, and I love having them at the competitions, but I’m happy that they are staying safe at home. Everyone is adjusting to the new normal right now.
IT CERTAINLY HAS BEEN A UNIQUE YEAR AROUND THE GLOBE. WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR COPING MECHANISMS?
For me, I am lucky that I was able to continue to ride during these times. Riding has always helped me stay grounded; your mind is completely focused on what you’re doing, and it’s nice to have that escape. Keeping in close contact with family and friends, even if you can’t see each other, has also really helped.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN KEEPING BUSY?
At the very beginning of quarantine, I was addicted to puzzles! Now competitions have begun again, so it’s been nice to get back in the ring. Even though we had a break, we always kept the horses moving. It was nice for them to have some time away from the competition schedule, but we always kept working.
THE 2020 OLYMPICS IN TOKYO WAS ON YOUR RADAR THIS YEAR. IT MUST BE A GRUELING PROCESS TO PREPARE FOR SUCH AN EVENT. WHAT WAS THE TRAINING SCHEDULE LIKE FOR YOU BEFORE THE POSTPONEMENT BECAUSE OF THE WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC?
At the time, we were working towards making the shortlist for the Olympics by staying consistent with our results. I was aiming towards certain events with my horse, without overdoing it, so I could have her peaking this summer. Of course, plans have changed, and we’ve had to adjust, but for us, our routine is always pretty consistent.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN HARD TO RECEIVE THE NEWS THAT THE OLYMPICS GOT MOVED AND THE EFFECT IT HAS HAD ON SPORTS IN A BROADER SENSE?
It was, but everyone’s safety is the top priority. What is unique about our sport is that there is no age limit; there is always another Olympics or championship that you can aim for, so we are lucky in that sense. Right now, all we can do is hope for the best and try to keep myself motivated.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF SPORTS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU SPECIFICALLY?
I am really enjoying where I am right now, but there is a lot I still want to achieve. I think it’s difficult to say what the future will look like, but I absolutely always want to have horses in my life.
COVER PHOTO: Photo assistant: Olivier Colairo / Stylist: Sophie Goodwin / Fashion assistant: Lydie Harrison / Hair: Tobias Sagner @Callisté / Make-up: Aya Fujita @Callisté / Location: Domaine de Chantilly / Cavalier: Elodie Jacquet / Wearing Ralph Lauren