There is no question that Zazou Hoffman has become a household name from coast to coast. We caught up with her to find out everything from her most embarrassing moments, to her new mount to the aftermath from the devastating California fires.
- What are your plans and goals for 2018?
For 2018, my goal is to keep gaining consistency in the bigger Grand Prix classes. I finished 2017 jumping some of the world cup qualifiers and that was great step up but I felt like my scores reflected my inexperience so I’m hoping to be stronger at that level this year. We will be returning to Spruce Meadows and Thunderbird this summer which is always fun and great competition! The horses I ride W Zermie 13 and Samson II are wonderful, but aren’t getting any younger so I want to focus on preserving them a bit. And my new one Vice Versa D’ossau is 9 yo and super exciting!
- Tell us about your new horse!
The new one we call Vice in the barn and he has a lot of personality and character. He’s quite small but he’s like a little lion – lots of heart and just the right amount of attitude. He is the first horse I have put a group together to buy, so that in itself is a new experience and I’m so grateful to all of the owners involved and I’m hoping it can be a really fun experience for all of us. I am taking my time getting to know him and we are starting to feel more and more consistent and like team. As a rider I really like for things to feel right in the ring. I like to feel quality jumps and I like it to feel like I can handle any technicality put in front of me, so I’m really happy because Vice has given me such a great feeling in the last few classes as we are getting to know each other.
- How was your experience back on the east coast with North Run?
I had a really wonderful 5 years with North Run and I have a lot to thank Missy Clark and John Brennan for. When I was 13 I was awarded the Ronnie Mutch Working Student Scholarship which helped pay for me to go to Florida for 2 weeks to be a working student for North Run. From there, Missy invited me to come back and things really took off. I worked very hard there and I learned so much. Missy and John were always generous helping me with horses and I had a very successful equitation career there.
Zazou and Missy Clark
- North Run is located on the east coast and Meadow Grove is on the west coast. What are the biggest changes you have noticed from coast to coast? PC: Sofia Jain
The whole atmosphere on the east coast is pretty different I would say. There’s a lot more intensity and volume of horses in the sport whereas the west coast doesn’t have quite the same numbers and therefore a bit more laid back vibe. I think both have their pros and cons, but for me the west coast has been a really important place for me to develop as a rider. I think it’s hard to find the same opportunities back east that I have here in California. I do think that for equestrian fashion the west coast actually has some really great styles and designers!
- What is your most embarrassing moment?
Oh where to begin… there was last year when I fell off twice in as many days at the LA Masters show. Or as a junior when I had basically begged to show at Devon in the Junior Jumpers and made it all the way through the classic clear until the last jump where I then fell off, taking the bridle with me.
- What are your favorite EquiFit products?
I am really loving the half pad, the bonnet, and right now the extended hind boot liners! The half pad is really great for me because it keeps my saddle really nicely up off the withers while still letting me feel very close contact with my horses. The bonnets I just think look really sleek on all my horses and they never wiggle around – I find that I never notice my horses shaking their heads or holding an ear funny in the EF bonnet because it sits so nicely on them. And then the extended liners have been great on Vice. The old rider told me they always used them so I’m not going to change what was working!
- We are so glad that all of the animals and people made it out safely from the California fires but were devastated to hear about the barn. What is the plan moving forward?
We were lucky enough to be one of the few barns that was able to move back into Middle Ranch. Middle Ranch is a large boarding facility and at least 2/3 of the stables burned but the management there let us move into one of the remaining barns. The are starting demolition on the burned structures now and we will wait to see what happens. Other than that, just slowly but surely replacing our lost items and being glad all the horses and people were safe.
- Who is your favorite rider?
Beezie Madden. She is so incredibly invisible yet so strong as a rider. From what I can tell she has a great mental strength and does such an amazing job developing her horses and seems to really love and appreciate them. All qualities I admire and try to learn from whenever I have the opportunity to watch her.
- If you could have any horse to compete on who would it be?
I think maybe Fit for Fun. She is an incredible horse in so many venues and she is a little bit of a similar model to my new horse Vice and has the same sire (For Pleasure) so I think that would be really cool to ride her!
- We had the pleasure to meet Samson when we were in Thermal. Tell us a little bit about him!
Sam is a completely lovely animal. He has been such a solid and consistent horse for me. He was owned by one of the clients in the barn and when she decided she wanted to sell him I was really lucky to have our other client Saree Kayne step up and purchase him for me. You can always count on him to try and it’s not very often that he makes a mistake. One weird quirk which Equifit has helped me with is that he interferes and hits himself on the flat so it has been really important to find boots that fit him well and don’t put pressure on one spot on his fetlock. Other than that, he doesn’t like to be left alone – he doesn’t care about being alone from other horses but he gets super nervous when he doesn’t have people by his side in the cross ties. He’s a totally dorky little guy!
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