California Riding Magazine • March, 2014

Olympian En Route!
Dressage individual and team gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin arrives March 8-9 for first U.S. symposium.

by Jennifer Keeler, Yellow Horse Marketing

Great Britain's Charlotte Dujardin is the darling of the dressage world. With a story that reads like a fairy tale, she rose from young stable groom to stand on top of the world as she swept the Team and Individual dressage gold medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games aboard the charismatic Dutch Warmblood gelding Valegro, a horse she developed through the ranks from the time he was a youngster. 

This endearing pair has won the hearts of millions and continues to set world records when they step into the international dressage arena.  Charlotte comes to the U.S. for the very first time as a clinician to share her secrets for success as part of a very special dressage symposium to be held March 8-9 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. "I am so excited to come to the U.S.," says Charlotte. "With the increasing popularity of the sport, I am looking forward to seeing some great riders, and to teach what could be the next generation of international riders is a real privilege."

"We've been talking about the possibility of doing an event like this for several years, and now we're thrilled to welcome Charlotte to the U.S. as a clinician," notes symposium organizer Pam Lane. "She is just phenomenal, and I think what makes her success even more special and relatable to so many riders is that she's a 'normal' person like the rest of us, and yet she made it to the top. I think she brings a new perspective on what can be achieved." 

Co-organizer Glenda McElroy agrees. "If you look around at who is new, fresh, interesting and undoubtedly successful, it's Charlotte - it's the perfect timing for her to come to the States, because she's the best in the world right now," says Glenda. "We've hosted successful symposiums in the past, and I love the format because I think it inspires people. Everyone gets together, learns some new things, meets fellow riders, and goes home with fresh ideas and energy to apply to their own riding, so that's what we hope to do with this event."
As she and Valegro continue their success in the competition arena, this spectacular pair have set world scoring records and Charlotte is currently the number one-ranked rider in the world. She was also honored by the Fédération Equestre Internationale in being presented with this year's Reem Acra Best Athlete Award. 

While Charlotte will show off her skills during the symposium by riding several horses herself, she looks most forward to instructing others. "The most important thing for me in teaching is that riders enjoy themselves," she explains. "While we have to set training goals, we also must take the time to understand our horses in and out of the saddle, training and building such a precious and enjoyable partnership. To me, I always feel honored that a horse like Valegro puts his faith in me the way I put my faith in him. He's my friend first and foremost, and I think that's so important."

During two education-filled days of riding, teaching, social events and interviews, Charlotte will also be reunited with her former trainer, Judy Harvey. An accomplished international Grand Prix rider in her own right, Judy is also an FEI 4* judge, served as a selector for the British Olympic Dressage Team, was the official BBC television commentator for the Games, and is a renowned coach for riders and horses of all levels. 

Through their teaching, Charlotte hopes to inspire attendees to pursue their dreams. "I just hope that I can help them with any challenges that they may have, and that they go away feeling that they have something to practice and set their sights on," she says. "Most of all, I want them to feel that anyone can achieve their goals if they are prepared to work hard for them. If I can inspire them in any way to think like this through the teaching, then it will have been an honor to have been part of it."

For more information, visit www.thedressagelife.com, where visitors may also see the debut of Charlotte Dujardin's incredible new video, "The Art of the Possible", now featuring footage from Olympia. Fans may also follow news about this event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dressagesymposium. For questions and sponsorship opportunities, contact Pam Lane, plane021@yahoo.com or Glenda McElroy, glenda@glenroys.com.