She arrived in California from her native Denmark in 1979. While she had ridden since she was eight – mostly jumpers and trotters – she came to America with no job awaiting her. She got her start when she attended a lecture by Olympic dressage rider Hilda Gurney and she asked Gurney for help finding a job working with horses. The query led to a long-term friendship. Gurney not only helped Charlotte find a job but later helped her train her Olympic partner, Monsieur.
Charlotte’s first horse-related job in the U.S. was at Bell Canyon Equestrian Center located just outside of Los Angeles. It was an unpaid one that didn't even give her the chance to ride, but her horse skills and work ethic soon earned her respect. The turnaround in her equestrian career came when a wealthy boarder at the barn offered to pay her to groom and ride horses. The offer not only gave Charlotte the chance to ride but to be seen in the saddle. Other horse owners at the barn quickly became aware of Charlotte’s talent and her American career was launched.
Charlotte became both an instructor and manager at the equestrian center. She also managed the facility’s dressage shows. As her talent became more recognized, opportunities followed and Charlotte eventually developed a successful career as a full-time trainer and competitor. She also showed a talent for business and wisely formed partnerships with people who would finance the purchase of horses, mostly from Europe, that she would then train and compete for resale. Monsieur was one of those horses, but once under Charlotte’s care, Monsieur decided he’d found his person and refused to be sold by becoming a “difficult ride” for any potential buyer.
Unable to sell him, Charlotte felt guilty about making her partner pay Monsieur’s costs, so she did it herself despite the financial struggle. It turned out to be a wise investment in her competitive future as Monsieur took her to the top of the competitive world – the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In 1991, 1992 and 1993 Charlotte received USET grants to train and compete in Europe.
In the years following her European tours, Charlotte climbed back up the competitive ladder with another star she had bought through a partnership – Lugano. She had started Lugano as a four-year-old and in 1996, he had the distinction of being undefeated at Intermediaire I. By 1997, he was a successful Grand Prix horse and he and Charlotte earned a spot on the silver-medal winning U.S. Team at the North American Championships that year.