Charlotte's Life with Horses

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Charlotte Bredahl-Baker – Olympian, Trainer, Competitor, Breeder

Charlotte Bredahl and Eskada at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby
Charlotte Bredahl and Eskada at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby
Charlotte Bredahl-Baker 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 eventually 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. One of the first horses she got in training was a first level horse named Copenhagen. The owner got pregnant four times in a row right after she bought the horse. By the time she was ready to continue riding, Copenhagen was showing Grand Prix. Copenhagen ended up teaching the owner's children. This was the first horse Charlotte trained to Grand Prix and she got great help from Hilda Gurney.

Charlotte 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.

Monsieur (now 28) is now happily retired on the50-acre ranch owned by Charlotte and her husband.
Monsieur (now 28) is now happily retired on the50-acre ranch owned by Charlotte and her husband.

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 bronze medal winning US Team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In 1991, 1992 and 1993 Charlotte received USET grants to train and compete in Europe. While in Europe Charlotte rode with Herbert Rehbein and one season with Conrad Schumacher. Her favorite shows were Aachen, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden and Copenhagen.

Another horse Charlotte purchased in a partnership was the four-year-old gelding Lugano. In 1996, they were undefeated at Intermediare I and won USDF Horse of the Year. In 1997, they were on the U.S. Silver-medal winning team at the North American Championship and were the highest-placed American pair. In 2001, Charlotte got another four year old in training. His name was Eskada and he was owned by Sayoko Nakatani of Japan. In 2004, Charlotte and Eskada won Third and Fourth Level Horse of the Year at the California Dressage Society (CDS) Championships. In 2005, they won Prix St. Georges CDS Championship and placed seventh at the National Intermediare Championships at Gladstone. In 2006, they had a very successful season on the Florida circuit and again qualified for the Intermediare Championships at Gladstone. Unfortunately, Eskada got hurt and had a long lay up. He is back and just about ready for Grand Prix.

While in Florida in 2006, Charlotte also competed [#27422 override="Komo at Grand Prix" title="Komo at Grand Prix"]. Komo was formerly ridden and trained by the late Carol Plough. Komo and Charlotte had a very good season and ended up sixth on the USEF Grand Prix list. Since both horses were on the long list, Charlotte got to ride in USEF training sessions with Klaus Balkenhol.  In the past, Charlotte has also ridden with Guenter Seidel and Robert Dover.

In 1985, Charlotte started working on her judging career and in 1988 she got her real estate license. She thought it would be good to have another career as a fall back. When Charlotte is not traveling for clinics or judging, she is home on the ranch with her husband Joel and they enjoy their horses, dogs and a game of tennis.