Three U.S. owned horses represented the United States at the 2008 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany, July 31 - August 3, 2008. Jennifer Hoffmann's Rubinio and Katie Robicheaux' Williams qualified via international selection scores obtained in Europe, Willy Arts' Valeska DG earned her berth via the USEF/Markel National Young Horse Selection trial on the West Coast.
Based in Carlsbad, California, Hoffmann and the black Westfalian stallion Rubinio spearheaded the American representation in Verden being the highest scoring U.S. pair in competition. Riding in the 5-year old division, Hoffmann just missed out on the individual finals when she placed fifth in the consolation finals.
In the preliminary round, Rubinio showed off his beautiful conformation and outstanding gaits, but the contact with the bit could have been steadier. In trot, Rubinio tended to bop his head, regularly going slightly behind the vertical. Rubinio is quite a compact stallion and in walk, he easily showed super overtrack, but needed a while to find a good, clear rhythm. In canter, Rubinio was well balanced in the bends and counter canter, but could have stepped under more with his hind legs. The judges scored him 7.4 for trot, 6.9 for walk, 7.3 for canter, submission and general impression. The total score of 7.24 placed them 33rd.
"Our first ride wasn't as I had hoped. He was looky, spooky. It was the first time for him he was in such a situation, where he had to spend overnight and in an arena with sponsor banners," Hoffmann told Dressagedaily. "I rode him quiet and pretty, I backed off and rode too safe. You can't do that in Europe! I was a little upset because I didn't show him to potential."
The 33rd place in the preliminary round meant that Hoffmann had to go through the consolation finals to aim a spot in the individual finals. The pair appeared more solid, the connection with the bit was steadier and the horse tracked under with more power and energy. The judges appreciated the effort and gave an overall score of 8.06, which placed them fifth. They just missed out on the finals as only the three top placed combinations were allowed to start the next day.
"On the first day I rode in the second group and after my ride I sat down and watched all other riders. This helped me so much for the second day," Hoffmann confessed. "The others had the same difficulties and I watched what they did. I used that in the second round. So just like them, I went forward, I gave it gas and he went super. I was happy that I turned it round."