Charlotte Dujardin Shares Her Story
An excerpt from her new memoir, The Girl on the Dancing Horse
An Excerpt from her The Girl on the Dancing Horse
In her memoir, The Girl on the Dancing Horse, legendary British Olympic dressage competitor Charlotte Dujardin details the highs and lows of her illustrious riding career. She begins by sharing memories from her childhood spent aboard ponies and describes her path to reach the status of dressage superstar with the help of mentor and British Olympian Carl Hester and her celebrated mount Valegro. It is a surprisingly relatable story that she shares with humor, honesty and emotional detail. The following excerpted sections are a few highlights from the text, which is used with permission from Trafalgar Square Books. The book is available through Equine Network Store. To learn more visit www.equinenetworkstore.com. are like big squares with deep seats and thick knee rolls. How was I meant to sit in that?
It felt completely different to everything I’d been used to, but we hacked down through the trees as usual and Debi got me to warm Truday up. Then, out of nowhere, she told me to do a flying change. Well, I had no idea what one of those was.
A flying change is when a horse skips from leading with one leg to the other while she’s cantering. But I couldn’t follow Debi’s explanation at all and just sat there, nodding away, totally lost. Even as she sent me off cantering around the arena I still had no clue what I was doing, but then I put my leg back behind the girth like I’d been told and to my complete surprise I felt Truday skip and start leading with her other leg. We did it a couple more times, then Debi told me to try some fours (changing legs every four strides) and after that a halfpass. By now I was so out of my comfort zone: All my ponies ever had to do was walk, trot, canter and go in a straight line, and suddenly here I was on a great big dressage horse doing tricks. The tempi changes I found quite hard because of the timing, but when I asked Truday for the half pass she didn’t hesitate—I was going sideways across the arena before I even knew it. It was amazing: All I could think was, Wow! This is so cool!
Crossing Paths with Carl Hester
After getting the feel of piaffe on Truday I knew what I was aiming for, so one day I thought to myself, I’m going to teach [my horse] Charlie McGee to do that. I found a big field while we were out hacking and started playing around, but it seemed like no matter what I did, it wasn’t happening: Charlie was a show horse and had no idea what I wanted him to do. I knew then that I somehow