Split Rock Exclusive: Age is Just a Number with Ansgar Holtgers

There were many top names and up-and-coming amateurs at The Split Rock Jumping Tour this weekend, but none quite as charming as 12-year-old Ansgar Holtgers Jr. who brought home the blue in the $2,000 Child/Adult 1.10m Jumper class and the $500 cash prize for “Best Fist Pump”.

Despite a difficult first round on one of the two mounts he was showing in that class, Ansgar managed to keep his cool and come back for the win. JN caught up with this young Champion to hear his side of the story on his weekend at Split Rock.

The Best Horse in the World

After watching his father — pro German rider Ansgar Holtgers, Sr. — show at Split Rock since its inception, Ansgar knew he wanted his chance to ride at the prestigious event. “I thought it was such a cool show,” he told JN. “I felt I had been riding good enough to show there and I had an amazing horse to guide me along.”

Ansgar and No Regrets VIII. Photo by Taylor Pence Photography

That horse is No Regrets VIII, a dashing gray ten-year-old gelding that Ansgar describes as the best horse in the world. “He is very honest, but if he doesn’t like you he doesn’t want to see you. He will turn around and not look at you!” From the smile on Ansgar’s face both during and after the ride, it is obvious the pair share a special connection- one that was able to help Ansgar bounce back after an unfortunate first ride.

“I got up that morning and said to myself, ‘Ok I go first on one of my horses and last on the other one. I’m just going to get through the first one and go from there.’” Ansgar described his first horse as a hair difficult and felt that they could have ridden a little better in his first round. “I was a little disappointed, I thought he could definitely have jumped that course.”

But Ansgar didn’t let that disappointment get him down. “I stepped back, cleared my mind, got on the other horse and just went for it!” And went for it he did, stealing the lead with a time of 29.645- four seconds faster than the second place rider.

In His Blood

The daring young rider first started in the saddle as a four-year-old alongside his parents (his mother is also a dedicated equestrian). He briefly took a step back from riding to dabble in soccer, but a family move from Europe to the United States set off a new chapter for Ansgar. “When we moved back to Wellington from Germany, we spent a lot of time at the horse shows and he decided he wanted to ride again,” said his mother Ellen.

Photo by Taylor Pence Photography

A special jumper pony named Sparky helped bring Ansgar back along. Over the years Ansgar has had instruction from well known names in the industry including Charlie Moorcroft, Michael Delfiandra, and his current trainer Missy Clark of North Run Farm.

Hard Work is Ahead

While Ansgar is ecstatic with his success so far for 2017, he doesn’t intend on slowing down any time soon. “I think I have achieved a lot of my goals for this year, but I want to keep on having good results and winning,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to go to the Olympics and ride for the USA and bring home an Individual and Team gold medal!”

Those dreams may seem big, but Ansgar has the drive and the ability to make a run for it if he stays on his current trajectory. “I am really proud of him, but he still has a long road ahead of him,” his mother told JN. “He has to work at it and he does work at it. And I think he will continue to work at it.”

Ansgar at the winner podium. Photo by Taylor Pence Photography.

Ansgar rides every day except Monday, and in order to help dedicate as much time as possible to the saddle, he challenges himself with his education as well. As a student in the online Palm Beach International Academy he is better able to travel and compete throughout the year without comprising his education.

With several more shows planned for the year and a passion for the sport, Ansgar Holtgers Jr. plans on making 2017 a year of many firsts. With the love and support of his family and friends, there are undoubtedly many more fist pumps to come from this young star as he charges forward.