Charlotte Phillips has taken to the FEI ranks like a duck to water. Charlotte was not the only young rider to have the chance at Willinga Park to shine on a horse that has had good training and experience — but she certainly made the most of her opportunities. The talk of Dressage by the Sea 2021 was the talent in the younger rider ranks, and there is no question that the importation of good horses and the chance to take on high-level horses helps the riders to have some incredible competitive experience and success.
Charlotte was born in Watford in the UK after her Aussie mother, Rachel, and British father, Ben, met whilst working on a cruise ship. Neither had any interest in horses but decided to settle in New South Wales, where Rachel’s family hailed from, when Charlotte was about a year old. They bought a house in Shellharbour, about 100km south of Sydney, where Ben was able to continue as a ship’s captain on a five-week on, five week-off roster.
A three-year stint in Launceston followed for the family while Ben studied at the Australian Maritime College; this was a time they absolutely loved. Renting 10 acres, they leased some mini ponies — however these ponies were “slightly cranky” and therefore never ridden! With Ben’s study complete, it was then back to life in NSW.
Charlotte did not ride until she was nine years old. It was while the family, by then with twins Zac and Maddie, were on a farm stay holiday that Rachel caught Charlotte trying to climb onto a Shetland pony in a paddock. From there on it was horse crazy. A galloway called Lady was purchased from the local Camden sales and, as you do, Lady was agisted at Albion Park.
Charlotte remembers spending a lot of time wrapped around Lady’s neck as she was forever pig-rooting! Charlotte excelled at school and loved to ride whenever she could. Lady was superseded by Rusty, whom Charlotte took to Pony Club. Rachel then thought that Arabians were the way to go and so one was purchased and they started doing the Arabian shows.
A GUIDING HAND
A good friend in Tibby Barbour took Charlotte on as a pupil and the team excelled, with Charlotte the consummate student and Rachel the consummate showing mother who loved all things fashionable! It was with Tibby’s influence that Charlotte started dressage and, being smart, was soon very interested in the discipline and the structure of the competition tests.
It was another Arabian, Rosegum Goldrush (Snickers), who took Charlotte to the next level, winning a lot of Arabian championships and doing well in the Young Rider National Championships and National Interschools events in Novice dressage when she was in year six. They won the Champion of Champions at the East Coast Championships and Charlotte won the NSW Young Rider Novice Child Rider Champion. They were ENSW Interschool Novice Champion and third at the EA Interschools Nationals.
Then there was Russell (Aloha Gladiator), a newly broken-in Arabian Warmblood that was far from easy but flash as and a great colour! Rachel had a knack for buying horses willy-nilly in the utmost faith that her daughter would make them into champions! She always loved a bargain with a challenge included. With Tibby guiding them along the right path, another good riding horse was developed, one that Charlotte took to Medium level dressage before handing over the reins to sister Maddie. (Russell is the current Arabian Derivative of the year.) By this time Charlotte was all of 15 years of age, and being good at school, she was sure she was going to become a navy pilot and fly helicopters.