BY TORI SHEEHAN
Soehnke Theymann takes pride in the journey of important things. He’s worked riding, training, and developing countless horses in his career. He knows that while the process is rewarding in and of itself, some horses have a knack for reminding him why he loves what he does.
“I have had a lot of young horses,” Theymann says. “But one like this, that’s consistent and that’s top three every time she goes in the ring—it’s pretty rare to find. It’s very, very exciting.”
He’s talking about 6-year-old American Holsteiner Henrietta (Contefino—O Black Cherry). Henrietta was born in California, owned and bred by Thea and Peter Sprecher’s Platinum Capital Management LLC. She’s claimed top finishes in the 6-Year-Old Jumper divisions in Kentucky, New Jersey, Tryon and Michigan. She finished 2021 as the best 6-year-old in the USEF national rankings with more than 100 points. In their last thirty classes, the pair has 25 top-five finishes and 14 wins.
“She’s just so quick. She can turn, she can jump, she can slice, she can pretty much do anything you ask her to do,” says Thea Sprecher, Henrietta’s owner and breeder. “You really do forget how young she really is.”
Watching her in the show ring, one may notice Henrietta’s sleek bay coat, her beautiful canter, and probably her game face—ears turned back, waiting on Theymann’s next cue. But one of the things that can get overlooked is her size.
“She’s barely 15 hands,” Theymann says. “She’s like the smallest horse that I’ve ridden. But every time you think, ‘Oh, it might be a little bit big for her, it might be a little much for her’, she just says, ‘No, it’s not!’ She finds the scope, she has a huge stride.”
THE FIRST SURPRISE
When Henrietta came into Theymann’s life, he was already working with her full sister, Greta Garbo PCM. Greta is another American-bred horse, also bred and owned by Platinum Capital Management LLC. Physically, Greta is a stark contrast to Henrietta. She stands 17h tall with long legs and a dapple-gray coat reminiscent of her sire, Contefino. She and Theymann enjoy a partnership that continues to this day. At the beginning, Henrietta was simply an add-on.
“Soehnke almost didn’t want to take Henrietta because she was so small,” Sprecher says. “I made him take her. I said, ‘If you want to keep Greta, you’re going to take this one at least to see what she can do.’ And you know? It was one of the best chance things that has ever happened.”
“When I first rode Henrietta, I thought she was slow, lazy…honestly, I thought she would be maybe a small junior hunter,” Theymann says.
At home, there was little thought that the mare would ever want to step into the jumper ring. Luckily, all it took for Henrietta was a change of scenery and a chance to show off to change Theymann’s mind.
“First horse show,” Theymann says. “She hits the ring and she just wants to win. She’s like a little rocket every time. It’s unbelievable.”
“We didn’t realize what she was going to be at that point,” Sprecher says. “We just thought she was nice and pretty and rideable. But we had no idea that she had such a competitive heart.”
HENRIETTA NEVER LOOKED BACK
From the first horse show on, Theymann knew he had a special horse. Henrietta went on to take top honors at the 2021 Princeton Young Jumper Championships in New Jersey as well as the 2021 USHJA Young Jumper Championships in Traverse City, MI, where she was awarded the best U.S Bred Horse award. Beyond the accolades and success on paper, the speedster times and impressive double clear rounds, Henrietta is also blowing people away by how she wins.
“She’s just extraordinarily elegant. She does everything with style,” says Sprecher.
Henrietta’s attentiveness, effort, and speed in the ring at shows is remarkable. But at home, it’s a totally different story, making Henrietta even more endearing to those who know her well.
“At home, you can barely get her in the ring, she’s so lazy,” Theymann says. “She loves turnouts. She really does lay down and sleep if she can all day, she loves to eat. Eat and sleep. When you’re at home for a while she’s really lazy and you don’t even think she can jump a big fence, but then you go to the show where she can show off? She just gets wings. I never had that before, to be honest.”
While the level of Henrietta’s talent has left her trainers and owners in awe, as her breeder, Thea knows that she is an embodiment of the work and detail that went into creating the right breeding match.
“Even before you get to the development, the most important basis is breeding and bloodlines, and being very, very diligent about who you breed in the first place,” says Sprecher. “Both Greta and Henrietta are taking the best qualities from their parents.”
Henrietta and Greta’s sire, Contefino (Contender – Kyra XIII) was brought to the U.S. from Italy more than 8 years ago. He still stands in the U.S. and has shown in the 1.50M and 1.60M. Their mother, Black Cherry (Ganaletto—Izora), is also owned by Platinum Capital Management LLC and lives in California. She was a prominent fixture competing in the 1.60M, carrying both Richard Spooner and Will Simpson to several top finishes.
Sprecher and Theymann both get an air of whimsy when talking about the qualities they see passed down to Henrietta and her sister. For Greta, with her father’s grey coat, she inherited her mother’s build and jump. For Henrietta, they see Contefino’s effortless gaits, his elegant aura, and intelligence. But perhaps most of all, they see what Black Cherry handed down to Henrietta—heart.
“Henrietta’s mom, Black Cherry, was obviously very athletic to be able to do the 1.60M throughout her career. But she never looked that pretty doing it. She was one hundred percent heart. Henrietta has that. Henrietta just gives it everything out there, every single time. And I mean, every…single…time.”
It is an undisputable source of pride for the Sprechers to continue such top American Holsteiner bloodlines. Both Sprecher and Theymann agree that strengthening the American breeding system makes the sport stronger and makes the process of developing young horses even more enjoyable.
“Lots of breeders stopped breeding in Europe 10 or 15 years ago…and there’s actually a shortage of good horses,” Theymann says. “I really enjoy knowing what was with them when they were a foal. We know Henrietta and Greta Garbo from since they were born. We know every step, and it’s very important to me that we know they’ve never been in the wrong program.”
As he does with most horses who hold tremendous potential, Theymann tries to stay grounded when talking about hopes for Henrietta’s future. Their goal is to continue success in the 7-Year-Old Jumper divisions with hopes of doing Spruce Meadows in the 7 and 8-Year-Old divisions.
“I don’t want to put an exact wording on it, but I hope she’s going to be like, a big-time horse,” says Theymann.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
With the Sprechers’ care in her breeding and Theymann’s upbringing, this little mare seems to have filled her human counterparts with an excitement that is both palpable and inspiring.
“Not only does it inspire me to continue the breeding program we have, but it also reminds me of those once-in-a-lifetime horses that we all have,” says Sprecher. “The ones that you really have a relationship with that are just special animals. They just want to win, they give you everything they have, they love their job, and they really contribute to the sport.”
“It’s very inspiring,” Theymann says. “Everything I asked from her, she has done more than 100 percent.” After a short pause, he utters a phrase that embodies how he feels every time he gets into the saddle and steps into the ring with Henrietta.
“The sky’s the limit with her.”
All in the Family: Henrietta’s family is filled with top-caliber talent
Full Sister: Greta Garbo PCM
- • 2021 Champion in 7-Year-Old Jumpers at Tryon
- • Awarded Best American Bred Horse for the 7-year-olds at the 2021 Princeton Young Jumper Championships.
DAM: Black Cherry
- • Born in the U.S.
- • Sire: Ganaletto
- • Dam: Izora
- • Top Grand Prix finishes with riders Richard Spooner and Will Simpson
- • Stands in the U.S.
- • Sire: Contender
- • Dam: Kyra XIII
- • Grandsire: Corofino
*This story was originally published in the February 2022 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!