Charlotte Bredahl-Baker has been a long-time supporter of educational opportunities for adult riders and it's therefore quite fitting that she is the 2009-2010 clinician for the Platinum Performance/USDF Adult Clinic Series. Charlotte will be traveling the country in the ultimate outreach program, offering a clinic in each of the USDF's nine regions, with the first one being launched October 17-18 at Magnolia Farms in Live Oak, Florida. The theme of the 2009-2010 Platinum Performance/USDF Adult Clinic Series is "The Quest of the Pyramid" – the training pyramid, that is. And if ever there was a clinician who could bring multiple perspectives to the table, it's Charlotte. A breeder, trainer, competitor and judge, she understands the world of dressage from every perspective. Her own quest to obtain her FEI "C" license has really improved both her coaching of riders and her own show riding. "Going through all the judges training really improved my test riding. I understand where one can get the extra points and I think it really has improved my eye. In turn, it has really improved my coaching," Charlotte said.
A native of Denmark, Charlotte is a true horsewoman who began riding as a child and has experience in multiple equestrian disciplines, including open jumping and racing trotters. Her greatest successes have been inside the dressage ring, including a team Bronze Medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics with Monsieur (also the 1994 and 1997 USDF Grand Prix Horse of the Year) as well as a team Silver Medal at the North American Championship in 1997 on Lugano (also the 1996 and 1997 Intermediaire I and Intermediaire II USDF Horse of the Year). In both cases, Charlotte bought them as youngsters for $10,000 and trained them all the way on her own. Over the years she has trained four horses that combined have earned eight 'Horse of the Year' titles. This year, she has even enjoyed the sport of reining. At the 2009 Dressage World Cup competition in Las Vegas, Charlotte competed in the International Reining Celebrity Challenge, along with another dressage Olympian-turned reiner, Anky van Grunsven. She was also part of the Olympic Pas De Deux Challenge doing a Grand Prix disco routine on Liberty Light, owned by her student Cathey Cadieux. See video clips from her performance in Vegas. http://www.youtube.com/user/windfallcb.
A U.S. Equestrian Federation "S" judge, Charlotte also recently obtained her FEI "C" judge credentials, which now allows her to judge CDI competitions. While judging takes up much of her time, she still manages to obtain success in the show ring. In 2006 she had a very successful season on the Florida circuit competing at Intermediaire I with Eskada and Grand Prix with Komo. Both horses were long-listed and qualified for the National Dressage Championships in Gladstone. At the moment, Charlotte is very proud of her five-year-old Westpoint, especially since he is by her breeding stallion Windfall CB. Charlotte says Westpoint is the nicest horse she ever started. She has owned him since he was six months old and he is currently showing very successfully at Second Level.
Gaining access to quality instruction is a challenge for adult riders, especially amateurs and Charlotte is well aware of that challenge. That's why she's strongly encouraging adult riders to turn out for one of the nine USDF-sponsored clinics. "Riders need to support these efforts to provide them with educational opportunities," she said. "If we don't support these things, we will lose these opportunities." Charlotte considers it an honor to have been chosen as the clinician for the Adult Clinics, but also a great responsibility and one she does not take lightly. "I'll be teaching a lot of people and trying to set a standard for a whole lot of people."
The Adult Clinic format incorporates private lessons for eight riders with open sessions for auditors. Charlotte promises auditors who attend that they'll get just as much out of the clinic from the ground as will the riders. "I like to have auditors sit close to me so that I can more easily explain to them what I see from where I sit. We'll also take frequent breaks and have discussions. It'll be my goal to help auditors develop their eye and the riders their feel and then help them fix things." Charlotte would especially like to encourage adult amateurs to attend saying that it is the adult amateur "who is the backbone of our sport. Without them, we wouldn't have a sport."
At the same time, however, Charlotte stresses that these clinics are open to professionals and she is hoping to give them new inspiration and input they can pass on to their students. Charlotte is not shy about admitting that she has an underlying message that she'll be delivering during her USDF Adult Clinics, which is that the most important element in dressage is the relationship between rider and horse. It matters not to her what breed or level of horse one has, all of them are equally important to her and she's sure to give as much attention to adult riders with less-talented horses as she will to those with horses that are up-and-coming dressage stars.
"I have ridden just about every breed there is and can appreciate them all. For me it's all about having a better relationship and partnership with your horse and that can be at any level. It's about harmony with your horse and not the ribbons. For me, when I show, I care more about how my horse is going compared to how he did last time, to where he is in his training than I do about winning. To put it simply, Charlotte strongly believes in the philosophy that the real competition is against oneself and not against others. She is concerned that too many riders focus on obtaining a better horse rather than on bettering themselves as riders. In her travels as a judge, she often sees riders who are behind their horses in level of training.
"It's not uncommon to see riders who are riding at a level at which they are not ready but are there because the horse can do the level. I think it is the trainer's responsibility to tell their students to show at a lower level until they are ready. It's great to buy a schoolmaster for learning at home, but no point in showing until the rider is as ready as the horse. You must have the correct foundation to move up that ladder, if you really want to become a good rider. I encourage everyone to ride more than one horse if possible. Every horse will teach you something and develop your feel," Charlotte said. "At the top level, there is a lot of pressure from owners and sponsors to stay at the top and that has driven the view that showing and winning is everything. I admit that I've been fortunate to own what I ride or to have great owners. But one thing I do hope to give is that trainers and riders should be encouraged to put the horse first and become examples of how it should be done. We are very fortunate to have wonderful role models like Steffen Peters and Debbie McDonald and Guenter Seidel at the top of our sport."
Platinum Performance/USDF Adult Clinic Series Clinic Schedule
October 17-18, 2009
Magnolia Farms at Live Oak
Live Oak, Fl
October 24-25, 2009
Carbery Fields Farm
November 14-15, 2009
March 20-21, 2010
Clifton Farms/Midsouth Dressage Academy
Leatherdale Equine Center
St. Paul, MN
May 8-9, 2010
Hassler Dressage at Riveredge
Chesapeake City, MD
October 30-31, 2010
Rosebud Ranch Equestrian Center