The Secret of Charlotte’s Success

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A very happy Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro out of the arena after her championship debut. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Aug. 17–Charlotte Dujardin is 26 years old and began competing international Grand Prix for the first time just five months. On Wednesday, she rode Valegro in only their fifth Grand Prix competition together to produce a personal best score and lead the European Championships after the first day.

How does she handle the pressure?

“I don’t see an arena any different. I see it just like it is at home and ride it the same way.”

Carl Hester, who found Valegro as a four-year-old and trains Charlotte, put it this way:

“I thought one day we would see a little chink in her armor. It just hasn’t happened.”

Carl disclosed one pattern of behavior.

“The first day she gets to a show she complains she doesn’t know why she’s here and wants to go home. The second day she’s a little better. On the third day, she’s all settled and ready to go.”

She laughed when told of Carl’s disclosure, but admitted:

“On the first day, the horse is a little tense and I’m moany. I’m better on the second day. By the third day, everything’s fine.”