Chrissa Hoffman started the year 2008 with a stable full of top FEI horses, including her newest arrival from Germany, F. Ferrelli, her very own Grand Prix horse. Adding him to the roster of client horses in training with her, means Chrissa will be busy in the FEI ring over these next few years.
"F. Ferrelli is the first horse that I have ever bought that was trained to the top, so it's an interesting journey following someone else's ride. Having trained three horses to Grand Prix myself, we figured it was time for me to have the chance to have a super international quality horse," Chrissa said. It was her trainer, Alex Gerding, who found Ferrelli for her in Germany in March 2008. "I flew over a week later with Alex and fell in love with Ferrelli!"
Chrissa's immediate goal with her new partner is to compete him in CDIs in the high performance divisions throughout this year. But, her ultimate goal is for she and Ferrelli, sired by Forestan 1, to one day be members of a U.S. Equestrian Team.
In addition to Ferrelli, Chrissa will be busy campaigning Harry Callahan, a 10-year-old Saddlebred gelding owned by Linda Cawthon of Louisville, Kentucky. Chrissa began training Harry when he was four and she's proud to say that 2008 saw his Grand Prix debut with a fabulous score of 65.20 percent. "He might be the highest-scoring, full-bred American Saddlebred in the world to ever earn that high of a score in Grand Prix," Chrissa said.
The first big competition goal Chrissa has planned for both of her Grand Prix mounts is to compete with them at Dressage at Devon in the fall of 2008. She's nearly there with Harry. "He only needs one more qualifying score! It will be such fun to have two horses competing in the Grand Prix," Chrissa said.
It's rare to find a Saddlebred competing in Grand Prix, let alone competing successfully against the Warmbloods. And just to ensure that no one considers Harry a fluke, Chrissa has been moving another Saddlebred up the ranks – a gelding named Forty Something and owned by Jody Swimmer of Louisville. He came to Chrissa at the age of four trained for saddle seat. "I had to retrain everything and re-introduce a whole new language," she said.
Forty Something is now seven and this year, Chrissa started showing him at Third Level with much success. "He's earned scores in the mid-60s. I think that proves that Saddlebreds can compete in dressage and not only win, but score very well. Some have commented that Harry may just be a 'freak of nature.' I disagree. As Forty Something shows, with good training, any willing, athletic breed can learn dressage," Chrissa said.
Last, but not least, among Chrissa's stable of competitors is a talented five-year-old gelding named Davidson. She's preparing him to compete next year in the FEI Six-Year-Old Tests. Davidson is owned by Peggy Randolph of Louisville, Kentucky. It was Alex Gerding who found the talented youngster at the Elite Westphalian Auction and sold him to Randolph.
The 2008-2009 winter season will be a big one for Chrissa and her stable of horses. She's already made plans to shut down her entire barn and head to the Florida show circuit. It will give her the opportunity to campaign Ferrelli at Grand Prix and it will give all her students a chance to experience the Florida show circuit. "All of my students get to go, including my young rider, Genna Sturzebecher, who is 16 and is looking into taking a leave of absence from school to have the opportunity to train with me in Florida and show her five-year-old," Chrissa said.