I was lucky enough to see Dorothy Crowell when she was still Dorothy Trapp, riding Molokai in England before going on to win a silver medal at The Hague World Equestrian Games in 1994 and the inaugural 4* USET Championship at Rolex in 1998. The circuit in England is small, so inevitably you end up seeing everyone at the same events throughout the season, and I must have admired her lovely bay horse several times by pure chance at quite a few events. Since moving to Kentucky, I’ve bumped into Dorothy a couple times. It wasn’t until I sat down with her recently at her home, in Frankfort, Kentucky, and got to know her a little bit better that I realised I should have admired the rider more also! Dorothy is bright and sunny–just what you’d expect from Kentucky’s homegrown hero and golden girl–but she is also extremely smart and likable.
Dorothy has made a conscious decision to keep her eventing operation fairly small and manageable, having seen the professional route and tried first hand to do it larger scale. Dorothy seems to have found a perfect way to balance the books and the lifestyle. Her farm is a work in progress; she has big plans for improving the house, the arena, the stable complex, all in increments as she sells a horse or two. Dorothy’s farm, like her life, is balanced between the most picturesque, remote, and rural location nestled in wooded hills above the Kentucky River, and Frankfort, the State Capitol of Kentucky, and it’s relative (!) civilization.
Dorothy is disarmingly modest, funny, chatty, welcoming, and she makes a great cup of tea. We covered a lot of topics, mostly related to horses. Dorothy moved to Kentucky after returning from England, and since then she has seen a number of horses and pupils though her yard, not the least of which are two graduates who have gone on to do great things at EN. Dorothy feels a great responsibility for young riders who want to make a living from their riding, and tells me she makes sure all her young students realise that horses are hard work – even medalists like herself do barn chores on “days off” (with a wry grin). She also feels a keen responsiblity towards her horses: Radio Flyer, or Red, who was almost her comeback horse this year, is now teaching students. Pikadilly, a former ride of hers that she had since a 2 year old, is campaigning with her working pupil Michelle and they’ll be aiming for the Pan Am Games.
Dorothy’s nine stall barn is functional and absolutely spotless; the aisles are clear, the halters all hang neatly on the doors; it looks ready for the Queen’s Inspection, and I’m sure it wasn’t for my benefit. I get the feeling it looks like this all the time. Dorothy is resourceful–she tells me about the year there was a drought and she had a bunch of horses and students going to Fair Hill and Radnor. The ground was so hard they didn’t even want to trot, so they cleared a path and then walked their horses up the very, very steep hill adjacent to her property every day – she ended up winning best conditioned award.
Family is Dorothy’s priority – her daughter told her while watching the dressage Freestyle at WEG a couple months ago that that’s what she wants to do! Dorothy loves horses and eventing, and has obviously given a lot of thought to where the sport should go next. She is a Level 4 ICP instructor and she loves her teaching, and yet she definitely hasn’t ruled out any TD aspirations. Let’s cross fingers for sooner rather than later