Charlotte Jorst's Florida Experience Makes Headlines and Victory Rounds
(Reno, NV) March 20, 2015 - Experience was the goal when Charlotte Jorst took her dressage horses to the country's most prestigious series of dressage competitions, the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. She took home a wealth of experience and more, with headlines and victory rounds to remember forever.
Commitment to Excellence
Charlotte's commitment to her sport was evident throughout the two months of competition in Wellington. "I was so proud of my horses. They just got better and better. I came to Florida because I knew I needed the experience of riding at this level, test after test, week after week, in order to become the rider I want to be. I needed to overcome my nerves and ride up to the level of the competition here, and it worked!"
Kastel's Adventure, her 10-year-old black Dutch Warmblood gelding by Ferro son Special D, gave Charlotte her first CDI win on the Wednesday of AGDF Week 10, with 71.842% leading more than 40 competitors in the FEI Prix St. Georges CDI-W 1* class.
Not to rest on his record, he followed that with another CDI win that Friday on a 72.868% in the FEI Intermediate I class of 30 entries, and took second in the last class on the last day of Charlotte's weeks in Wellington, with a 74.350% in the FEI Intermediate I Freestyle.
"Adventure has been such a rock star," Charlotte said appreciatively. "He has grown in strength and confidence, and he has become so much fun to ride. He knows what he needs to do now, and he just lights up when we go into the ring."
Also competing in the Small Tour was the 2003 black Hanoverian mare Fraktura (Ferro x Carilla / Grannus), which Charlotte acquired just prior to the Florida trip. Their mid- to high-60s scores established a respectable foundation for this new partnership and Charlotte looks forward to a great future with Fraktura.
Kastel's Nintendo, the 2003 dark bay Dutch-bred stallion (Negro x Rodieni R / Monaco) that Charlotte has been competing at Grand Prix for the past year, provided Charlotte with exactly the experience she sought in Florida. With scores ranging from the high 60s to low 70s, they won the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special in week 4, and placed second on a 69.608 in week 5's Grand Prix Special, between perennial dressage stars Steffen Peters in first and Shelly Francis standing third.
"I had to pinch myself during that prize-giving," Charlotte remembered. "To be in the same ring, standing in between those two ... that was an amazing feeling I will never forget."
Reflecting on the level of competition at the AGDF, Charlotte remarked, "The horses and riders are so good that in many classes a 70% score might only get you a 7th or 8th place, instead of the win that score would get at shows in other parts of the country. There are so many fantastic horses and amazing riders in Wellington that FEI classes can have as many as 40 or 50 horses, something I had never experienced before."
Raising the Bar
Charlotte takes a strategic approach to building her dressage career, and a prime example was her surprise mid-competition purchase of Akeem Foldager, one of Denmark's most talented dressage horses, from Denmark's Andreas Helgstrand and Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak.
"I recognize that to be competitive at the top of this sport, you need a horse that is capable of getting high 70s and increasingly, 80s. No matter how well you ride, if you don't have that kind of horse, you won't get those scores."
She had been following Akeem for a long time. "I kept emailing and texting Andreas, thinking 'if only' and all of a sudden, there was the opportunity I had been hoping for. It was a whirlwind! I flew to Denmark, rode him one day, and again early the morning of the next day, then flew back to the show. Even my husband didn't know what I was up to until I returned."
When Akeem arrived in Wellington mid-February, his trainer Andreas Helgstrand joined Charlotte for a week of transition coaching to help her new partnership with Akeem get off to a good start. "I'm looking forward to showing Akeem," she says, but wisely adds that they need to get to know each other better before they enter at A.
Opportunity favors the prepared, so they say, and Charlotte has been preparing for a horse like Akeem for years. From local competitions to California CDIs to Florida's Adequan Global Dressage Festival, she has patiently worked her way up the levels with an escalating commitment of the time and financial resources required to succeed in dressage at the highest level.
Her first big investment set the bar high. In 2013, Charlotte's Dutch stallion Kastel's Vitalis took her all the way to the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany, where they represented the U.S. after winning the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Championships, 6-Year-Old Champion. In 2014, they became the USDF Adult Amateur Prix St. Georges Champions. His young get in Europe brought 6-figure sales prices last fall, so this year Vitalis stayed home for a well-deserved break and, due to popular demand, to have his semen collected for breeding.
Her plans for Akeem have no limits, but sensibly she is taking it one step at a time. He is going home with her horses that competed in Florida, and their competition debut will come when they are both ready. Her fans can't wait - Charlotte has become an inspiration to many adult amateurs who work hard to support their horse habits and regard Charlotte as one of their own.
Supporting the Horse Habit
"I have never worked so hard in my life, and I've always worked hard," Charlotte says of the Florida routine that saw her riding four horses a day as well as continuing to develop the business that supports them.
After Charlotte and her husband Henrik built up and then sold their international watch company, she turned her business acumen to developing her new Kastel Denmark apparel company, whose sun-protective shirts and stylish jackets are seen across showgrounds from Florida to California.
In Florida, when she wasn't on a horse or in the show ring, she was visiting vendors and promoting Kastel Denmark. "It takes a lot to support this kind of horse habit," she acknowledges, "and I don't mean only the cost - it also takes a lot of time, and focus, and sometimes sacrifices. I'm lucky I can bring my work with me to the shows, and my family comes to visit me."
While Charlotte kept tabs from across the Atlantic, Kastel Denmark took the BETA trade fair in England by storm, with the Charlotte shirt winning Best Rider Clothing. Kastel Denmark's expansion into Europe, begun last year, looks set to be as successful as its expansion throughout the US has become.
Focus on Training
On returning home, Charlotte will resume training with Olympian Guenter Seidel in California. She has been working with Guenter since US Dressage Chef d'Equipe/Technical Advisor Robert Dover referred her to Guenter during a USEF Dressage Observation and Strategic Training Session last year.
Her sessions with Robert, ongoing training with Guenter, and coaching from Andreas as she gets to know Akeem, give Charlotte some of the best training in the world. "These guys know so much from their years of experience at the sport's top level, I take every opportunity to learn from them."
Charlotte will be putting that training to the test again next at two California competitions: the CDI-W San Juan Capistrano this weekend and the Del Mar National. With the possibility of selection for the Pan Am Games this summer, and further ahead, potential selection for Rio, Charlotte is bringing her A-game to every test she rides, in the practice ring as well as the show arena. Her Florida experience will be supporting her every step of the way ahead.