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Who Is Charlotte Dujardin? Facts, History, Horses, Personal Life & More

Who Is Charlotte Dujardin? Facts, History, Horses, Personal Life & More

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In the world of dressage, few names resonate as powerfully as that of Charlotte Dujardin.

A figure synonymous with grace, precision, and an unyielding spirit, Dujardin has carved a niche for herself in the annals of equestrian history.

But who is Charlotte Dujardin, and how did she ascend to the pinnacle of a sport that demands as much from its human participants as it does from their equine partners?

Who is Charlotte Dujardin?

Charlotte Susan Jane Dujardin CBE is a British elite dressage rider, trainer, and writer. Born in 1985 in Enfield, England, she won three Olympic gold medals and one silver riding her famous horse Valegro.

She was born in Enfield, England, in 1985 and grew up in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. She currently lives in Malswick, Gloucestershire, a mere 5-minute drive away from Carl Hester’s yard in Newent.

Height: 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight:61 kg (134 lb)
Born:13 July 1985 (age 35)
Birthplace:Enfield, London, England
Net Worth$2 million - $5 million
Star Sign:Cancer

Charlotte Dujardin is currently 5th on the FEI Dressage World Ranking and is undoubtedly the most successful British dressage rider ever lived.

She also produced the legendary dressage horse Valegro; they raised the bar in the sport and inspired millions of people.

Charlotte Dujardin Started Riding at the Age of 2

As you would expect from a famous equestrian, Charlotte Dujardin didn’t waste any time getting on a horse. As a toddler, she used to accompany her showjumper mom on her mounts.

When she became a little older, she started riding her older sister’s pony and later got her own. At competitions, she enjoyed riding her sister’s horses from the show ring back to the horsebox.

Charlotte Dujardin’s gift with horses began to show very early on. As a 3-year-old, she won second place at her first Pony Club show jumping event. Her mom Jane fully supported the Dujardin sisters’ ambitions and financed their riding by buying and selling ponies.

By the young age of 16, Charlotte Dujardin already won the Horse of the Year Show four times and the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead three times!

She continued to show her horses until the age of 17 when she dedicated herself to dressage. However, she still enjoys jumping now and again!

Does Charlotte Dujardin Have Any siblings?

Charlotte Dujardin has two siblings, Emma Jayne Dujardin and Charles Dujardin. With her older sister Emma, she shares her passion for horses. Emma Jayne Dujardin is a riding instructor and produces show horses for top-level competition.

Where Did Charlotte Dujardin Go to School?

Charlotte Dujardin attended Vandyke Upper School in her hometown Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. She was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child and left school at the age of 16 to focus on her riding career.

Charlotte Dujardin’s Success Story Began When She Met Carl Hester

Charlotte Dujardin first took an interest in dressage when her trainer Debbie Thomas suggested it to her. Her very first dressage horse was Fernandez, who she bought as a 3-year-old from her grandmother’s inheritance.

After she left school at 16, Charlotte Dujardin worked for Judy Harvey, an elite dressage rider and trainer. She suggested Dujardin take lessons from the Olympic rider Carl Hester.

Hester even rode Charlotte Dujardin’s horse Fernandez, which is what started their relationship. In February 2007, Hester asked her to cover for one of his staff on the yard for 10 days, and she ended up staying forever.

Did Charlotte Dujardin Get Married?

Despite being engaged to Dean Wyatt Golding for over a decade, Charlotte Dujardin never got married.

The couple have had a long history together with plenty of ups and downs that began in 2007. On their very first date, Dujardin told Golding “My horses will always come before you.”. Even though she just wanted to be honest with him from the start, most of their problems have stemmed from this very fact.

Months after Charlotte Dujardin won double gold riding Valegro at the 2012 London Olympics, Dean Golding packed his bags and left. After the split up, both hit a state of all-time low. It wasn’t until three months later that they talked their problems over and got back together again.

When Dujardin defended her gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, Dean Golding pinned a sign to his shirt saying, “Can we get married now?”. The two have reinforced their engagement but unfortunately split up again in 2019.

The Girl on the Dancing Horse – the Story of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro

In 2011, Carl Hester and Roly Luard who co-own Valegro, asked Charlotte Dujardin to train the young Dutch Warmblood gelding. Hester planned to ride the horse when his training is complete, but Valegro and Dujardin proved to be such a fantastic match they went on competing together.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro at the 2012 Olympics
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, 2012 Olympics. Photo by Nordlicht8 on Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

In 2011, the pair achieved a record debut score of 74% on their first dressage Grand Prix competition. With the help of Valegro, Charlotte Dujardin earned an impressive set of individual elite dressage titles, including the individual Olympic freestyle, Grand Prix Special, World freestyle, World Cup individual dressage, and European freestyle titles.

Charlotte Dujardin describes Valegro as “the kind of horse you just know he’s gonna pretty much nail it in the arena.” She says he’s got a heart of gold, and he’s the reason why Dujardin rarely gets nervous at a competition.

The only exception was her emotional last ride on Valegro at the 2016 Olympia London International Horse Show.

See ‘The Girl On The Dancing Horse’ book about Charlotte and Valegro here on Amazon.

Where is Valegro Now?

After the 2016 Rio Olympics, Dujardin and Hester decided it was time to retire Valegro. “I wanted to retire him on a high note because he owes me absolutely nothing,” said Dujardin following a BBC interview. Indeed, no less than 12 times did Valegro and Dujardin score over 90% in freestyle dressage!

On December 14, 2016, Valegro’s very last performance was at the Olympia London International Horse Show, where he performed flawlessly.

Bronze statue of Valegro, famous dressage horse ridden by Charlotte Dujardin

Following the test, the BBC broadcasted a tribute to Valegro from Carl Hester and Alan Davies, Valegro’s groom. The gelding was retired to Hester’s yard in Newent.

On February 18, 2021, a bronze statue of Valegro was erected in Newent’s Market Square as a timeless tribute to the champion dressage horse.

The statue was sculpted by Georgie Welch and cost around $280,000. A low-key ceremony accompanied the unveiling of the statue due to Covid restrictions.

Also read: 8 Interesting Facts About Valegro

Who is Charlotte Dujardin riding now?

Since retiring Valegro, Charlotte Dujardin has been busy developing new Grand Prix level Dressage prospects. But despite having some promising horses in her inventory, Dujardin is convinced “there will never be another Valegro.”

On a usual working day, Charlotte Dujardin rides 10 horses, starting from 7:30 in the morning. Her current main competition horse is Mount St John Freestyle, a Hannoverian mare. “She comes in and delivers the job.”

The pair won bronze at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in both the Individual Grand Prix Spécial and Team Dressage. The following year, they won the Olympia World Cup qualifier and qualified for the 2020 World Cup final, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. There’s certainly much to look forward to from this brilliant pair in the future.

Another exciting prospect of Charlotte Dujardin’s is the 16 hand Dutch Warmblood Gio, son of Apache. Dujardin affectionately calls him “Pumpkin” or “pocket rocket.”

She first encountered Gio at a symposium in California, where she rode him for a demonstration. She instantly fell in love with the horse and bought him from his previous owner. “I tend to go for horses that look really basic and normal, but when I get on, I get that feeling…” said Dujardin, which is what happened with Gio.

On their international debut, Charlotte Dujardin rode Gio at the Grand Prix Freestyle event at Keysoe CDI and scored an impressive 79%. In the 2020 Hartpury closed-door event, Gio earned two second places scoring 79.10% in the Grand Prix and 88.05 % in the Freestyle.

Dujardin is also currently developing the Trakehner Erlentanz Tsf, with whom she scored 79.152% in the Aachen Grand Prix.

Charlotte Dujardin’s Greatest Dressage Achievements

Charlotte Dujardin is the United Kingdom’s most successful Olympic equestrian and a valuable member of Great Britain’s team for Team Dressage. In a short time span of around 5 years, she has won 101 out of her 151 starts, alongside countless titles and awards.

Below, we have compiled a table of Charlotte Dujardin’s greatest achievements, presenting the year, event, category, mount, and medal. Please keep in mind that the list is far from exhaustive:

What is the Highest Dressage Score Ever?

The world’s highest dressage score of 94.3% was achieved by Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. The pair performed the record-breaking test in the freestyle dressage category at the 2014 FEI World Cup at Olympia, London.

Charlotte Dujardin’s Toughest Times

Every top athlete’s life is a roller coaster of highs and lows, and Charlotte Dujardin is no exception. After winning double gold at the 2012 London Olympics, Dujardin was struggling with social media. She was terrified of the global media attention she was about to receive, so she sought professional help.

Another tough period followed her elimination from the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam. She represented Britain and scored 81.91% on the Grand Prix riding Mount St John Freestyle, which set her team up for the silver medal.

Sadly, the mare failed the subsequent stewards’ check as she had blood on her flank where the spur lay. Although Dujardin’s highest priority has always been her horses’ welfare, the combination had to be eliminated due to the FEI dressage rules.

Charlotte Dujardin’s Future Plans

Looking ahead, Charlotte Dujardin will continue competing in elite-level dressage and producing top-quality dressage horses. She has her eyes on the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which is currently scheduled to go ahead but without foreign spectators.

Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro
Credit: Franz Venhaus

Although her professional career keeps her well busy, the superstar rider doesn’t want to miss out on starting a family. “There is never a perfect time for a sportswoman to become a mother, but this is my sport and my hobby – having a family is real life, and that is my future,” she once said.

14 Charlotte Dujardin Facts

Here is a selection of the most fascinating and quirky facts about the legendary dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin:

  • Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro are the only combination ever to hold four consecutive World Titles.
  • The pair also hold the world record scores in all three Grand Prix dressage categories.
  • She is the first British woman to defend an individual Olympic title.
  • Dujardin has received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) rank from the queen herself at the 2017 New Year Honours ceremony.
  • She is the first dressage rider to win the Sunday Times and Sky Sports 2014 Sportswoman of the Year title.
  • She has a modern strip of public housing named after her in her birth town, Enfield.
  • Her book “The Girl on the Dancing Horse: Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro” came out on 27 March 2018
  • Charlotte Dujardin received her own gold post box to commemorate her win at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
  • She was a guest star on the Netflix original series Free Rein.
  • Her trainer Carl Hester calls her Edwine after Edward Scissorhands, as he regarded her riding hands too harsh.
  • Dujardin enjoys shopping, walking her dogs, and hanging out with friends.
  • If she wasn’t a dressage rider, she would be a veterinary nurse like her mom.
  • Her most memorable event was winning double gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
  • Her idols have always been her coach Carl Hester and German dressage rider Isabell Werth.

Charlotte Dujardin Quotes

Charlotte Dujardin is certainly a huge inspiration not just to dressage riders, but to equestrians and sportspeople in general. Here are some of her most powerful and thought-provoking quotes:

  • “All you can do is to do your best.”
  • “Training never just goes up. It goes up and down continuously.”
  • “Getting to the top is one thing, but staying there is quite another. That’s the difficult bit.”
  • “Don’t override. Let your horse make a mistake, then correct it.”
  • “I never think of who’s in the competition. I never let myself get in that frame of mind, worrying about who I’m against.”
  • “For young horses, 20 minutes of work is enough. This is hard for one-horse riders because you feel you should do more.”
  • “Success is not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than you used to be.”
  • “You have to be brave as a rider. You have to see how far you can go.”
  • “I never set goals.”

Daphne Siohan

Wednesday 31st of March 2021

Very nice horse. I think Valegro and Charlotte are the perfect match.