ealistically, I know Charlotte Dujardin doesn’t have magical powers. Those just don’t exist outside the realms of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings (ok maybe I’d still be open to a Hogwarts acceptance letter, but that’s beside the point). But when reading her new memoir, The Girl on the Dancing Horse: Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, you might find that the pages are littered with sparkling words of wisdom, as if Charlotte pulled a magic wand out of her breeches, said “Bippity, boppity, boo!” and all of the sudden, she’s transformed into the equestrian version of Cinderella. Now that’s my kind of magic (also side note: I would like some).
I’m typically a visual learner, and though I love to read, it’s rare for me to come across a piece of riding-related how-to literature and feel like I’m getting much out of it. But when the owner of three Olympic gold medals and a handful of world records writes a book, I’m hard-pressed to find an excuse as to why I shouldn’t get something out of it. The thing practically glows with knowledge. I’m pleasantly surprised that I took a few lessons from this book that I’ll likely carry with me throughout my riding career. (ps. if you're into learning from the GOAT, you'll want to read these tips from Erin Sylvester and George Morris when you're done)
She Maps Her Rides Like a Painter Plans a Canvas
“I think now it must be similar to the way artists work: they have an idea in their mind of what they want to draw, then they get a piece of paper and do it. It’s weird, but riding is like that for me. I have a sense in my head of what I want to do, then I get on the horse and somehow I can translate it into the things I do with my legs and seat.”
Thinking about the ride ahead of time? What a concept! Charlotte did that.
If Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, Horses are Like Jigsaws
“What I learned is that a horse is like a puzzle with different strengths and weaknesses, and it’s your job to put the pieces together and work out how to get the best out of them.”
Wow. Just wow.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
“People often say that Blueberry’s teeth are going to fall out with the amount of sugar he has, but I think it’s important to let him know when he’s done something well. I tell him he’s a good boy as well, even though talking to your horse during a test isn’t something you’re supposed to do.”
Talking on course (it’s more like disgruntled muttering if I’m honest) is something I’ve done for ages, so it’s nice to know that Glinda the Good Witch, a.k.a. Charlotte, does the same.
Listen, I’m not saying Charlotte’s a sorceress. But maybe Her Majesty the Queen of England knows something we don’t, and that’s the real reason Charlotte was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (on top of the Officer of the Order of the British Empire honors she received in 2013). Think about it. Her Majesty knows what’s up.
Photos by Ben Clark