The three-time Olympic gold medallist, Charlotte Dujardin, competed at the Soers this year again for the first time since 2019. We talked to the amicable British dressage rider about the fascination of Aachen, her training philosophy and her horses and we learned how much her young daughter, Isabella Rose, has changed her life.
Great Britain was this year’s partner country at the CHIO Aachen. How special was it to experience so much British flair at the grounds of the Aachen Soers?
First of all, I must say it is always a huge honour and a privilege competing here in Aachen. The conditions are incredibly good, the atmosphere is really spectacular and the spectators, who come here to support us athletes, are simply unbelievable. Experiencing this show in British style was, of course, very special. The Household Cavalry were there and we were all delighted that Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, was present too. All of that made my return here after four years even nicer.
Your daughter Isabella Rose was born in March. How much has that changed your life?
Simply everything has changed. Now that I am a mother, my priorities have changed completely. My daughter is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to me. I love spending time with her so much. And I feel so established and so blessed to have my own little family now. That is what life is all about.
Your daughter and also your partner Dean Golding accompanied you to Aachen…
Yes, of course. It is so special for me to have them with me. Before, I used to drive to a show and didn’t let myself get distracted by anything. I was completely focused. Now, I want to try and keep everything together. I would like to be the best mother for my daughter and at the same time still the athlete, who keeps pace with the world elite. Whereby it is not just about me, but about us as a family. I want to make them proud.
Well, after your fantastic performances in the Deutsche Bank Stadium you certainly succeeded in doing that. Tell me something about your top horse, Imhotep. What is he like?
Imhotep is still a very young horse. And even though he already took part in the World Championships last year, one mustn’t forget that he is only ten years old. So, I am overjoyed that he coped so well with the atmosphere here at the biggest and the best equestrian show in the world. He has so many highlights and at the moment he is constantly gaining more and more strength and expression. I have great hopes in him. He is the horse with the best movements I have ever ridden.
One says, he has tons of energy…
Oh yes, he certainly does (laughs). As a youngster he threw everyone off. That is also the reason why he lives in an open stable with a friend back home. He simply needs lots of exercise. Then, he is quite content.
You notched up two victories in the Small Tour in Aachen with your aspiring young talent, Times Kismet. Is she also a horse with championship quality?
Definitely. She gives me a magical feeling. It is a dream riding a horse like her. She is very, very supple, elegant, light-footed, simply a true ballerina. I have already had her since she had turned just five. So, we have known each other for a long time already and have come all this way together so far. So there is a very strong bond between us.
You have brought so many horses into the Grand Prix sport. Is this special relationship something you place particular importance on in the training?
Yes, exactly. For me, it is important to establish a partnership with the horse. That is also the reason why I love schooling young horses, because that is the only way to establish a very special connection with one’s sports partner. Over the course of time they become your best friends and learn to trust you entirely. For me, it is an exciting journey with each horse over and over again and that is also what makes my work so special.
You are returning to Aachen again later this year. You are namely holding your first masterclass in Germany at the CHIO Aachen CAMPUS in September. That is something very special for us. For you too?
Yes, of course. I have already given masterclasses in many places all over the world, but never in Germany before. I love explaining what I do, how I do it and I think it is interesting for people to see how young horses develop up to Grand Prix level.