America’s dressage darling Charlotte Jorst of Reno, Nev. kicked off her quest to qualify for the U.S. Dressage Team by traveling across the country to compete among America’s top-ranked horse and rider combinations at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp., held December 8-12 at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival show grounds in Wellington, Fla. After three rounds of intense competition in the National Grand Prix Championship, Jorst (who owns the wildly popular athletic sportswear company Kastel Denmark) and her long-time partner Kastel’s Nintendo (12-year-old KWPN stallion, Negro x Monaco) concluded the star-studded week as one of the top eight Grand Prix combinations in the country.
This was Jorst’s second trip to the Festival of Champions with Kastel’s Nintendo, and the pair had to overcome not only the challenges of distance and rigorous qualifying criteria but also the memory of a disappointing performance at Gladstone in 2014, a sentiment to which so many riders can easily relate. Jorst was determined to dramatically improve her performance and cement her place among the elite competitors in the country. “Last year at Gladstone, I was so nervous that I ended up doing part of the canter zig-zag in the wrong lead!” she laughed. “It’s funny now, but at the time I was so mortified that I hid in Nintendo’s stall for the rest of the day. But I was determined to grow from that experience in order to become the competitor I wanted to be, and as a result we’ve come so far this year. So I couldn’t wait to come back.”
Jorst’s hard work paid off. Earlier this year, she and Kastel’s Nintendo traveled to Europe to represent the U.S. at the CDIO5* Rotterdam (NED) and Hagen (GER), coming home with a Team Bronze and individual third place and subsequently named as reserves for the Pan Am Games Team.
Returning to the Festival of Champions was a chance at redemption as Jorst entered the lavishly-decorated main arena with her trademark smile. Despite a few costly mistakes in the first day’s Grand Prix Test, the talented pair rebounded with an impressive performance in the Grand Prix Special and a crowd- pleasing Freestyle under the lights on Saturday evening to be awarded among the top eight in the country.
“I have had a wonderful time here this year, and it’s been such a positive and valuable experience for both me and my horse. Nintendo couldn’t wait to get in the ring, and I learned something from every single test,” Jorst explained. “I’d like to congratulate all of the other competitors on their successes, especially the new national champion Laura Graves as well as reserve champion Steffen Peters. It is a thrill and an honor to be competing against such incredible horses and riders. Also I’d like to thank the entire team at the Global Dressage Festival for hosting this fantastic event, as well as The Dutta Corporation for their generous support of the sport.”
Even with this achievement, for Jorst the Festival of Champions was just the first step towards an even bigger goal: to qualify for the U.S. Dressage Team for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And she is determined to make her dream a reality. “Riding at the Olympics has always been a dream of mine, and I’m going to go for it,” said Jorst.
“The Festival was a great way to kick off the season, and a chance to ride in front of an international panel and gauge where we have opportunities for continued improvement and earn even better scores. As with so many things in my life including my businesses and the horses, I’m not afraid of hard work and doing whatever it takes to make this happen, whether it’s training with great coaches, improving my personal fitness, or consulting with sports psychologists. At the same time, one of the foundations of everything I do is to focus on the positive. I want this journey to be fun both for me and for my horses. For them to enjoy their work is always the most important thing for me.”
In further pursuit of her Olympic goal, during the Festival of Champions Jorst also announced the purchase of a potential new star for America: Stanford, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Sir Donnerhall x Roadster) will make the trans-Atlantic journey from Swedish Olympian Patrik Kittel’s barn in January (watch a video of Stanford HERE).
The impressive up-and-coming Grand Prix mount will join his new stablemates Kastel’s Akeem Foldager and Kastel’s Nintendo in Florida, where Jorst will continue pursuit of her Olympic dream at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival before returning to California in March for additional qualifying competitions. “I fell in love with Stanford from the moment I saw him,” said Jorst. “I am so excited that he’s coming to the U.S. and hopefully add to the amazing talent that’s being developed in this country at the Grand Prix level – and maybe even compete for Team USA in the future!”
To learn more about Charlotte Jorst and follow her journey, become a fan of her official athlete Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CharlotteJorst.