Charlotte Jorst and her 6-year-old Dutch-bred and Westfalian-licensed stallion Vitalis head to Verden this month, representing the USA at the FEI World Breeding Championships. Photo by Amy McCool.
As this magazine arrives in tack shops and feed stores on August 1, Charlotte Jorst and her 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Vitalis are in Verden, Germany, preparing to represent the USA at the FEI World Breeding Championships, August 7-11. Then they fly to Chicago, where they will meet up with her 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Adventure, who Charlotte qualified for the Markel/USEF National Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Championship presented by HorseShow.com, at Dressage at Lamplight, Wayne, Illinois, August 22-25. Finally, they will make the long road trip home to Reno, Nevada.
Gold Medal Juggler
"I am so lucky to be able to do what I love – to ride and compete these wonderful horses," Charlotte says with enthusiasm. "It's crazy busy, and I'm juggling like mad, but I love it!"
That's a typically Charlotte understatement, as this Danish-born American citizen rides four horses a day, has seven horses at home to manage, along with two grown daughters, her husband of 24 years, to dwarf Nigerian goats, two fluffy white rescue dogs, and a flock of ducks.
She is still involved with the watch and accessory company Skagen Designs, which she and husband Henrik built over 23 years and recently sold to Fossil, the largest watch company in the world. Add her newest business venture, Kastel Denmark, the outdoor apparel company she is launching, and it's clear that Charlotte is a gold medal juggler.
Vitalis Takes On Verden
Taking Vitalis to Verden is travelling full circle. Dutch-bred Vitalis, the first licensed son of Vivaldi, was reserve champion at the 2009 Westphalian Stallion Licensing, after which he stood at stud for two years at the Westphalian State Stud in Warendorf. With hundreds of his foals on the ground, among them many European champions, Vitalis is returning to compete on his home turf amidst enthusiastic supporters.
Vitalis will be at Verden for about two weeks before the start of competition, adjusting to his new surroundings and preparing for the 6-year-old FEI World Breeding Championships. His performance in the Markel/USEF Western Selection Trials at Dressage at Flintridge scored an outstanding 9.192 – averaged from 9.18 in the preliminary test and 9.2 in the final test – for the highest USA qualifying score on record, so there's a bright spotlight on his highly anticipated performance in Verden.
Charlotte is looking forward to showing how far he's come since he competed in the 2012 FEI World Breeding Championships as a 5-year-old at Verden, before he came into her life. "Vitalis makes it look easy, because he likes it. He's a lovely horse. He's so uncomplicated, and he's self-motivated if he thinks it's fun. He doesn't want to be over-drilled, so at home we jump once a week, we gallop around the big jumping arena, and we do jump pole work. We keep it fresh. We work with our coach Volker Brommann about twice a month, but we definitely don't drill the movements over and over, Vitalis would hate that. Do it once
or twice, and do it right, then move on– that's Vitalis!"
Spectators in Verden are in for a thrill, as Charlotte says Vitalis loves to show off. "His extended trot is like riding a Rolls Royce at full speed, and he also loves the extended canter. He has big, huge gaits and an incredible uphill balance; he's very light and forward."
In his last US show before travelling to Verden, Star Spangled Dressage in San Juan Capistrano the last weekend in June, Vitalis decisively captured the 6 yr. old Markel/Cornerstone Young Talent Search with 90.714% in the finals class, the highest score yet in that competition.
With only one horse to ride while she's in Verden, Charlotte jokes that she needs more to do. Her hotel has a swimming pool, so this 80-laps-a-day swimmer will be able to continue her own conditioning, but that's not enough. Thankfully, social media can use up a lot of time.
Charlotte enjoys sharing her experiences with friends on Facebook, so she plans to post updates regularly, and invites anyone who wants to experience Verden vicariously to friend her and follow along as she prepares for the ride of her life.
Wilkens, Charlotte's 9-year-old Hannoverian stallion, is scoring in the 70s at Third Level.
Adventure Looks to Lamplight
While Charlotte and Vitalis are in Verden, Adventure will be visiting Steffen Peters in San Diego, where Steffen will keep him working in preparation for Charlotte's return and Adventure's debut in the Markel/USEF National Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Championship presented by HorseShow.com at Dressage at Lamplight.
"Adventure will be in great hands while I'm away," Charlotte smiles. "I'll actually be at Steffen's with Vitalis for a few days before we fly out of LAX to Verden, so I'll be able to see Adventure settled in and have a chance to work with Steffen a little. While I'm in Verden, Steffen will work with Adventure until it's time for the trailer ride to Illinois.
"I got a great new trailer for this trip, a 6-horse living quarters trailer that we converted into two big box stalls. Adventure will have the trailer all to himself on the way out, and share with Vitalis on the way home. Plus there's comfortable living space for my groom Baldo and 'Renaissance Man' Sean, who does everything from trailer driving to website design."
When Adventure steps off the trailer at Lamplight, Charlotte and Vitalis will be there to greet him. "I love this horse," Charlotte says. "Adventure tries so hard, and he's come such a long way. When I got him, he was short in the neck, and nervous. He's a Ferro grandson, so if something goes wrong or he doesn't understand something, he gets nervous. When he works, he doesn't get nervous, he's focused on me. He's so fun to ride!"
Charlotte describes his gaits as big and uphill, yet says, "He's utterly light, which makes it easy to do all the difficult stuff. He keeps the rhythm in every movement." Plus, she loves his long eyelashes. "He's pretty and sweet, and he tries so hard. How could you not love a horse like that?"
How could you not love his scores, as well? At Star Spangled Dressage, Adventure delivered scores of 70.714% through 77.000% in his Fourth Level tests and an impressive 68.421% at Prix St. Georges, paving the way for a great adventure
Cool. Protected. Meet Kastel Denmark.
They say there's nothing new under the sun, but "they" haven't seen Charlotte's new line of stylish, cooling, sun protection clothing, expected to launch this September. Named "Kastel Denmark" for her native country and the clothing's fortress-like protection from the sun, Charlotte says the shirts and jackets are as appropriate for lunch in Paris as for a ride on the trail. They are perfect for anybody who spends any time outdoors.
"After selling Skagen Designs, I wanted to do something new and exciting," Charlotte admits, "and this, to me, is exciting. I enjoy creating products that people want to have in their lives. Watches, clothing – we all need them, and we want to have something special without spending a fortune."
Like Skagen watches, Kastel Denmark clothing offers performance and style at an affordable price point. Kastel Denmark's unique fabric provides sun protection equivalent to SPF 30 and keeps you cool – so cool that Charlotte says it's cooler than wearing nothing at all. Plus, it's beautiful.
"You can wear Kastel Denmark on vacation in Paris without looking like you've just come from the gym. We're starting with the shirt I'm wearing in some of these photos, in eight great colors, and a jacket in five coordinating colors. The first products will be available in September, in retail stores and online."
Charlotte riding in her Kastel Denmark shirt, on Wilkens.
Charlotte has been testing a succession of prototypes at home and at shows during her drive to qualify Vitalis and Adventure for national and international championships. Juggling dressage tests with fabric samples, trailer configuration with clothing design, Charlotte says she has a lot in common with riders everywhere.
"We all have busy lives, with lots of demands on our time and attention. But when we love to do something, it's not work. It's just what we do! So why not dream big and go for it?"
Follow Charlotte's adventures at the shows and on the road at www.facebook.com/cjorst1 or visit her website www.charlottejorst.com .