She Who Makes Dressage Fun

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro at Olympia.
Photo by Kit Houghton/FEI, used with permission from the FEI Photo Database. Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro at Olympia. Photo by Kit Houghton/FEI, used with permission from the FEI Photo Database.

Everywhere you look online, people are covering, sharing, tweeting and “liking” the news on this unstoppable and remarkable pair. For those of you who haven’t heard, a couple days ago, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro (the 2002 gelding sired by the legendary KWPN stallion Negro) won the Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup Dressage leg at Olympia. The Grand Prix results determined which riders would go through to the following day’s Grand Prix Freestyle final. Of course, Charlotte and Valegro showed up the next day, and not only won the Freestyle, but broke the record with a score of 93.975% which demolished the 91.8% record that was set by Edward Gal at Olympia in 2010.

To be perfectly honest, dressage was never at the top of my “fun things to do today” list. I have always been drawn to extreme adventures and that feeling of adrenaline pumping and rushing through my veins. Downhill ski racing, taking a tube to the top of an icy and steep hill and sledding down, galloping and jumping on cross country, and I have always wondered what it would be like to drive a race car once around a track? Perhaps I was too ignorant, or maybe I was too young to appreciate the beauty and the art of dressage, or perhaps I never sat on a truly schooled and spectacular dressage horse in my earlier years. Truth is, my total lack of interest in dressage did a 360 in 2006.

I remember the first time I heard the contagious laughter coming from the outdoor ring. I was sweeping, or pretending to look like a productive working student when I heard Lindle Sutton (a former grand prix dressage rider) laughing with the barn manager, who at the time was Tory Emerson. I couldn’t help but start laughing, even though I had no idea what was going on. I also knew I had to immediately sign up for a lesson, because whoever makes dressage that much fun and interesting deserves an award.

It didn’t take long for me to get in on the fun. One of the first lessons I had was on Lindle’s gorgeous big bay Hanoverian gelding, “Buddy.” She told all of us girls at Tamarack that we could each have a lesson on him. Why she thought any of us could ride him was beyond me, but I was not about to question her motives. If she wanted us to ride her amazing horse, I was game! I think he was at least a 4th level horse, but I can’t quite remember. What I do remember was barely being able to sit his trot. I remember he was the fanciest, biggest moving, and smartest horse I ever sat on. I was still a fairly green rider at the time and didn’t know what to expect. I tried turning him right and he went left. I tried asking for the canter and he walked. I asked for a medium trot and he took off down the long side. It was hilarious and unforgettable.

Skybreaker inspiring me in dressage!

Skybreaker inspiring me in dressage!

I have been working with Lindle for over seven years now. She has not only changed my riding, but my entire attitude towards dressage. She pushes, motivates, inspires, and supports me. I never thought I would meet anyone that could make dressage as exciting as she does. She is very honest and no matter what makes me laugh every time I see her. I could be having the worst ride of my life; I could have my horse walk backwards and almost fall into the pond, or have my horse take out a jump standard while attempting a 10 meter circle, and like magic, she will have my tumbling over laughing within 30 seconds. I want to thank she who makes dressage fun for helping me become a better rider, trainer and person in the last seven years!

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