At the Tokyo Olympics, Jessica Springsteen -- daughter of rock legend Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band member Patti Scialfa -- is a first-time Olympian making her own name in the equestrian discipline of jumping.
Springsteen was named to the U.S. jumping team after strong results this year in the show jumping circuits in Wellington, Fla., and across Europe. But because only three of the four U.S. riders can go up in both the individual and team events, she still needs to prove herself to have a chance at a medal.
Springsteen is the daughter of rock royalty
The Boss’ daughter grew up in New Jersey. Where else did you expect?
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The Springsteens lived on Stone Hill Farm in Colts Neck Township, N.J., where Jessica quickly began taking riding lessons and competing in local shows.
As Springsteen moved on to bigger competitions, her parents always supported her.
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“Growing up in New Jersey, it was a very normal upbringing,” she told World of Show Jumping in 2019. “I think it was clever of my parents to have us raised there. As a child, it was nice for me to have something that I was so focused on and worked really hard with.”
She was named alternate for the 2012 Olympics before turning 21
At the age of only 20, while attending Duke University, Springsteen was named an alternate for the 2012 Olympic team. She was training at the time with Laura Kraut, who is now one of her teammates for Tokyo.
Kraut and Springsteen’s other teammates, McLain Ward and Kent Farrington, each have at least one team medal in show jumping to their name already. Like many equestrian Olympians, they are in their 40s and 50s compared to the 29-year-old Springsteen.
Her horse in Tokyo is Don Juan van de Donkhoeve
Each rider qualifies for the Games with a specific horse, even if they often compete on other mounts. Springsteen’s partner for Tokyo is Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Stone Hill Farm.
Springsteen had one of her best international results aboard Don when they placed third at the Rolex Grand Prix of Rome this past May.
Don and the other Olympic horses will be flown to Tokyo on specially outfitted cargo planes. The horses' stalls are raised up into the plane, where grooms and vets will care for them during the flight. The horses don't usually need to be sedated, but the pilot will make a more gradual takeoff and landing for the horses' comfort.
Springsteen has a chance at both team and individual medals
Although the U.S. qualified to bring four riders and horses to Tokyo in jumping, only three of them can compete in each event. (In previous Olympics, each country could put up four riders in the team event, with the worst of the four scores thrown out.)
The individual jumping takes place on Aug. 3 and 4, while the team jumping will be on Aug. 6 and 7. Riders and their horses, racing at about 15 miles per hour, will take on a course of 12 to 14 obstacles that are 1.4 meters (4 feet, 7 inches) to 1.65 meters (5 feet, 4 inches) tall.
Springsteen and Don will hope to beat out one of their more experienced teammates for a spot in the events. Whoever rides for the Americans, they expect to contend for a team show jumping medal once again after capturing silver in 2016 and back-to-back golds in 2008 and 2004.