OnlyOnAOL: Meet Jessica Springsteen, who's going on a major ride
By: Donna Freydkin
Ask Jessica Springsteen about her earliest days on a horse, and she thinks back to her childhood in New Jersey.
"I can't remember a time before it," says the accomplished equestrian, who has won top-level meets worldwide.
Now, the champion equestrian and Duke University graduate, who has six horses, is competing worldwide and was named a substitute to the short list for the 2016 U.S. Olympic show jumping team. (Watch an interview with another top athlete, Olympic champ Nastia Liukin, above).
It all goes back to her upbringing, says the daughter of Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.
"My mom had always loved horses since she was really young. When we moved to New Jersey and bought a farm there, she took lessons and I wanted to copy her and do the same thing and I never stopped," says Springsteen. "Our farm was across the road from a top junior training barn. I started training there. I naturally started to get into competition. It was a natural progression."
When she was a teenager, Springsteen wavered in her commitment. That's when her parents stepped in – they're famous for their full-throttle concerts that last multiple hours.
"They taught me at a young age that it's rare to find something you're passionate about and when you do, to work really hard at it and follow it through. Going through high school and college, they pushed me when I needed to be pushed," she says.
And sometimes, their schedules fortuitously coincide. "They try to come to as many (competitions) as they can. Next week in Madrid they have a concert the same day I'm competing."
She competes at the highest level, but says that of course, jitters are common. "I do get nervous, if I'm sitting and watching people go. Once I'm in the ring, you're so focused you're not thinking of anything else," she says.
For Springsteen, riding is the easy part. "For me, honestly, the traveling is pretty tough. Right now, you're packing up and moving every three days. It's a lot of moving around. But it's pretty amazing to be able to do what I love," she says.
Even cooler: being a Polo Ralph Lauren ambassador, which means she and her horses wear the famous crest in competition.
"It's amazing. I grew up wearing the brand and I loved it. The gear is so beautiful," says Springsteen. "I'm working with them to make jackets to make sure they fit right. It's so beautiful and so gorgeous. It's so classic and chic."