Jessica Springsteen, Bruce's daughter, was born to jump

Jessica Springsteen (center), who attends Duke, says: "I went to school to see if I loved anything else the way I love [riding]. I don't. I want to ride for as long as I can." MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff
Jessica Springsteen (center), who attends Duke, says: "I went to school to see if I loved anything else the way I love [riding]. I don't. I want to ride for as long as I can." MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff
Posted: June 03, 2012

Jessica Springsteen took a trip to the other side of the Atlantic. You can read all about it on the Internet, though that wasn't her intention.

Springsteen, 20, represented the United States on the Young Rider Tour of Europe last summer. She showed horses in Belgium, France, Austria, Germany, and England.

And during those rides (and before them, and after them, and in between them) she received more attention than she does in America.

Heads turned.

Cameras clicked.

Interviews were granted, sometimes without even the hint of an equestrian question involved.

At first, Springsteen said, she was taken aback. She didn't understand the infatuation. Before long, though, she remembered: She's that Springsteen. The Boss' daughter.

Look at a photo essay of Jessica's effort at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in London's The Daily Mail last May, for example. You can see Jessica in four photos, Bruce in six. There he is, posing with his family, and watching the show, and watching some more, and watching some more, and watching some more, and touching his wife's hands.

"It was . . . interesting," Jessica said of the tour.

But shouldn't she be used to that? Shouldn't she be a pro at handling attention, being the daughter of a Grammy winner and rock-and-roll Hall of Famer?

Well, no, Jessica said. She isn't used to receiving extra attention because, at least in the United States, she doesn't remember ever being treated differently. Her last name isn't a big deal to people. She's shown since she was about 10 years old.

When Jessica rides through the gate for the Idle Dice Stake at the Devon Horse Show Saturday afternoon, she will be just another rider, albeit one of the best in the country.

The United States Equestrian Federation placed Jessica and her Belgian warmblood, Vornado, on its "long list" of competitors still eligible for the U.S. Olympic show-jumping team.

She doesn't expect to make the squad, not this year.

Thirty-eight rider-horse combinations are on the long list, and only five will show in London.

Plus, Jessica is only 20 - the average age of riders on the U.S. team in 2008 was 42. In the Grand Prix at Devon on Thursday, she finished fifth, missing the four-person jump-off.

But one day, Jessica said, she wants to compete for a medal. She said she just needs more experience. She still gets nervous before some of the high-stakes shows, like Devon, and she's been told the butterflies drift away with age.

Also, she needs more time to dedicate to riding. This spring, she split time between showing and going to class at Duke University, where she is majoring in psychology.

Jessica, who just finished her sophomore year, took classes Monday through Thursday, then flew to Wellington, Fla., where her family owns a house.

She competed through the weekends and flew back to school on Sunday nights. Sometimes, she said, it was tough to get excited about her 10:20 class on Monday morning.

"I can't imagine doing anything but [riding]," she said of her future. "I went to school to see if I loved anything else the way I love this. I don't. I want to ride for as long as I can."

Jessica is taking a break from classes this fall. She wants to graduate with her friends, and several of them will study abroad next semester.

Instead, Jessica will show in Belgium next. Then, it's off to the Olympics, where she will drink in the show-jumping finals - likely as a fan.

At the Games, she hopes to catch up with her father. Bruce has been touring since March, but he has a couple weeks off at the beginning of August. The team-jumping finals are set for Aug. 5-6.

Even there, he might draw more photographers than the athletes.

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