Verden, here we come!

17 Jun

Vitalis Charlotte(Anita Nardine)

 

July 25th, 2013, Charlotte Jorst and Vitalis  (Vivaldi x D-Day)  will start their Big Adventure, when they leave for World Young Horse Dressage Championships in  Verden.

Vitalis received a 92 from the judges in his FEI 6 year old test at Flintridge, and goes to Europe with high hopes that the U.S. might actually be on the podium when all the dust at  Verden has settled.

Vitalis comes to this ambition as though born and bred for it—which he was. His dam was  a mare champion in Holland. His sire, Vivaldi, is one of the most popular dressage sires in the world and both sides have produced very successful Grand Prix horses. Vitalis was reserve champion in Germany before moving back to Holland, where he was shown for more honors by Dutch star rider Hans-Peter Minderhoud (who also trains/competes the dad, Vivaldi, at Grand Prix).

It all sounds like an easy decision to make—go to Europe, find a horse you click with, bring it home and let the ribbons begin. But everyone in the horse world knows it is never that easy and the road is long, much of it  treacherous and frustrating.

Charlotte Jorst and her family live on a ranch  in Nevada, outside the high-beam focus of Southern California’s ‘center of dressage’ glare. She has loved horses, ridden horses, much of her life. In her original home, Denmark, she rode ponies until age 18, and then put away the dreams for a while in order to have a family and work in the business world alongside her husband, as part of  the  design company they created, Skagen, famous for its watches  jewelry, and other personal items. As their children grew up, and the company developed a life of its own,  Charlotte was again able to indulge her passion for horses, and in particular, dressage.

 

 In 2012, the Jorsts sold their company to Fossil.

“It is important to have big dreams,” says Jorst. “If anyone had told me my husband and I would have made such a successful business and then sell it for so  much money, I might have just shrugged. But we worked hard and now is the time to try for another dream. We have a family, the children are old enough now—so I want to try for Young Horse, I want to aim for the Olympics.”  She says all this with a brilliant smile, her blend of happy optimism and ambition the fuel of a true top athlete.

Jorst had already bought an FEI schoolmaster – “I wanted to see for myself what the CDI atmosphere was about.”  She found an amateur-friendly schoolmaster, spent some time figuring out what kind of horse was successful, what kind of preparation was necessary, what trainer she could best work with. For the past 6 years or so, she has trained with Volker Bromann, and their mutual respect has continued to grow.  Holder of the German Reitlehrer FN, Brommann believes in strong foundations, cross-training and  “always emphasis on riders becoming better riders”   in order to have better partnership with the horses.

All Jorst’s horses at home live out much of the day in big paddocks—including Vitalis. “I do not have an indoor, they go in snow, ice—all kinds of weather and I think that is very healthy for them,” she says. If she cannot be home, she makes sure her horses get out: they are walked under saddle for an hour or so each day, in order to keep them happy without undue stress. She adds, “When I’m home I ride and decide how much how little, day by day. There’s no magic bullet.  it is just the every day–you try to motivate them to want to do the work, and you condition them so they can do the work.”

If Verden does not take too much out of Vitalis, the plan is to return to the U.S. and go to the National Championships at Lamplight with both Vitalis and her Developing PSG partner, Adventure (Special D-Ferro). She bought Adventure on the same trip to Europe as Vitalis, and knew they clicked the second she sat down on him.

Asked if she any plans for new horses, she laughs. “No new horses until these retire or I wear out– who knows!”

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