With an interest in biology and an aspiration to become a vet, Charlotte stopped riding and tried again to further her education. However, her heart wasn’t in it, which was reflected in her grades. The halt and rein-back to the horses was too strong to resist. Lasting an agonising four weeks, Charlotte headed back to the circus for a year. The circus travelled Europe and in 1974 was in Berlin to celebrate the World Cup soccer, an incredible adventure for a young woman.
The circus had all the wild animals that you could image from that era, including elephants, and there were 30 horses, travelling in trucks from destination to destination. Charlotte was given six Lipizzaner stallions to care for, feed and groom, and she learned how to brush a horse so that it shined in the circus ring. She also started honing her training skills, training horses to jump over horses that were in sulkies – what a hoot!
When the circus returned home, Charlotte moved on to working at a horse stud and continued to gather more knowledge and experience. A riding instructor at the local riding school where this story began encouraged Charlotte to undertake the intense Danish Riding Master Course, a six-year-course, so in 1980 she immersed herself into the world of horses to successfully gain the qualification in 1986.
At the same time, on the other side of the world in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, a family friend was searching for a coach to help at their equestrian establishment, Glen Brae Equestrian Centre. With her qualification completed, Charlotte didn’t need any convincing and the flights were booked, and Charlotte was on her way to share her vast skills and knowledge at Glen Brae. In the short time in Australia, Charlotte established a core group of loyal clientele.
Visa restrictions required Charlotte to return to Denmark, but it didn’t take long for the paperwork to be completed and she returned to the wonderful warm weather, the beautiful property, and a group of very happy riders. That is a long story to end with “and the rest is history”…
Chance: “The occurrence of events in the absence of any obvious intention or case.”
It was the chance encounters with horse owners that led to further extraordinary experiences. Charlotte’s first horse that she trained to Grand Prix was a part-Arab Palomino called Carillo that was agisted at Glen Brae. Describing him as a bit quirky, Charlotte took over the ride when the owner moved to the US. The training started with exercises of poles and jumps, encouraging Carillo to move his body and challenge his mind. Slowly, and drawing on the skills she had learned over her career, Charlotte transformed the quirky Carillo into a Grand Prix horse.
Another chance came when an ambitious young rider, the daughter of Lady Susannah Clarke, had won lessons with Charlotte. There was a goal in mind and the newly formed rider and coach team set a plan in motion. The goal was to win the Aachen Challenge, a prestigious dressage event ridden at Prix St Georges level, where the top three riders are required to swap horses and ride the Prix St Georges test. The prize is a trip to CHIO Aachen, Germany, and an opportunity to train within a system that has produced extraordinary riders and horses.
Lady Clarke promised Charlotte that she would take her to Aachen if her daughter won. It was a nail-biting final as the three riders swapped horses, and Charlotte’s talented and hard-working young rider won! Aachen is an event on the European calendar that captures the imagination of every horse lover. Travelling with Lady Clarke and her daughter, Charlotte remembers the time with great love.