California Riding Magazine • June, 2010

On Course With Zazou
Farewell to Ivy and
insightful advice from Bernie Traurig.

by Zazou Hoffman

Ivy - my stalwart partner in the Maclay Final passed away.
I will never forget him. - Zazou

Recently, my old friend and partner Ivy passed away. He was the horse that helped me win the ASPCA Maclay Final and many other equitation classes. He belonged to my trainer Missy Clark and he died of a rupture to an unexpected tumor on his kidney. He had extraordinary vet care throughout his life and this unforeseen ailment caught us all off guard. I feel so privileged to have had the experience of competing on him and I know that his many other riders feel the same. He had a heart the size of the universe and gave his all in every competition. I miss him already.

I had the pleasure of working with Bernie Traurig on a young horse at Jo Cho’s farm in Malibu. Bernie is associate chef d’equipe to USET head coach George Morris and, as an international contender himself and former winner of the Maclay Final, he has wise advice that I particularly welcomed. He wanted me to free myself from a locked equitation position. He says that in order to ride a jumper well, a fluid position is necessary, as well as elasticity in my arms. He wants my hands spaced farther apart and my leg a little tighter. Certain advice was specifically directed at the ride on the green horse that owner Jo Cho generously loaned me.

Jo Cho, Bernie Traurig and Zazou Hoffman at Jo’s farm in Malibu.

According to Bernie, a confident ride and patience are key, as well as a plan to gradually increase the difficulty of what we did on course. You can see the video of our lesson on YouTube under Zazou Hoffman and Bernie Traurig. I hope to have an opportunity to work with Bernie again soon. He is a valuable asset to all riders on the West Coast. Please take the opportunity to clinic with him if it becomes available to you.

Bernie has created an amazing website, complete with demonstration lessons and guest trainers. It is a subscription website but you can experience the demo rides free of charge by logging on to Equestriancoach.com. This site is a miracle of new technology. It’s the apex of its intersection with sports on the Internet. It’s an invaluable resource if you are a visual learner or if you don’t have access to horse shows where you can see the top horses and top riders in person. Ideally you have access to an educated trainer who can guide you to make systematic progress with your horse, but a site like Bernie’s can always be used as an additional learning tool. One thing I’ve learned about our sport is that you never stop learning.

After a junior career capped by her win of the 2009 ASPCA Maclay Medal, Zazou Hoffman is now riding and teaching as a professional. She is available for lessons, clinics and private consultation, as well as Grand Prix sponsorship. Based in the Los Angeles area, she can be reached at zazouhoffman@gmail.com.