Charlotte Dujardin never fails to impress in the ring, and this season is no different; she’s had grand prix wins at Windsor and Bolesworth CDIs and plus-80% personal best scores at the latter with her world bronze medallist Mount St John Freestyle (pictured).
We all know how many weeks, months and years go into training a horse to perform at this level, but just what does Charlotte do nowadays when she’s schooling Freestyle and her other top horses at home?
“I don’t ride the tests at home — I don’t even ride the extensions,” reveals Charlotte. “It was the same with Valegro too — I would wait until we get to a show to ride the extended trots; I want to save them for when I really need them.
“You have to be quite wise in what you actually do with these horses at hone,” adds the double Olympic gold medallist. “We focus on the things that keep them fit and strong, and we use the aqua trainer — we want to keep them long-term fit.”
But when she does school at home, what does she tend to include in her sessions?
“We practice pieces of the grand prix, though I don’t usually ride the lines from the test,” says Charlotte. “I might ride a bit of a canter pirouette and then a bit of the zig-zag. I’ll practice half-passes but I’ll also work on travers to help improve the half-pass, and ride leg-yield zig-zags up the wall of the arena.
“I also tend to train the changes along the wall, not across the diagonal, to help keep the straightness.”
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With Mount St John Freestyle having only recently made her competition comeback after nine months out of the ring, how does Charlotte go about bringing a top horse back into work after a break?
“It’s actually unbelievable that they don’t forget a thing, but they don’t,” says Charlotte. “With Freestyle the movements are secure, so I can still press a button and they’re there.
“Of course if a horse is less secure in a movement, you do have to practice it more, but so many riders always want to do things over and over again — most of the time, they don’t need to do it as much as they think.”
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