With the same trademark smile that has won over fans around the world, U.S. Grand Prix dressage rider Charlotte Jorst is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime as she and her mount Kastel’s Nintendo were recently named by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) as one of only two North American representatives to the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, being held March 23-27, 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden at the Gothenburg Horse Show.
“This is probably the one of the proudest moments of my life, and this invitation means everything to me,” said Jorst. “It’s been a challenging season so far this year – I set some lofty goals for myself and my horses and I have worked tremendously hard. Just like any athlete, you have ups and downs along the way and you may have to adjust your goals. But looking back now I realize that everything was bringing me to this point and I’m so incredibly appreciative of this opportunity.”
Since 1985, the World Cup Dressage Finals have showcased some of the world’s best dressage horses and riders from four different leagues with a focus on the Grand Prix musical freestyle. Jorst and Kastel’s Nintendo (13-year-old KWPN stallion, Negro x Rodieni R by Monaco) earned the right to participate in this year’s event as a North American League representative on the strength of two top finishes at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Fla. in January and March, including the GDF 7 CDI-W where they were the top-placing U.S. pair in the freestyle. “I can’t believe it’s really happening – it’s like a dream come true!” Jorst exclaimed. “A little over two years ago I got Nintendo having barely ridden an international Grand Prix, and now we’re going to the World Cup together! I can’t believe that we’ve achieved so much in such a relatively short amount of time. I’m overjoyed and so thankful to have such a great horse and that all of our hard work has paid off.”
Now Jorst looks forward to showing off her skills and “joie de vivre” to the world through the Grand Prix freestyle, which she admits is her favorite test. “It’s kind of my thing – I love the music and the choreography and the chance to express yourself through the performance. And since I feel like the freestyle is one of my strengths, it’s a chance to highlight those strengths and have fun at the same time. That’s what it’s supposed to be about,” she explained. “I changed everything from our previous freestyle, and it’s a tremendous amount of work and quite time-consuming trying to get it all right. I went through hundreds of pieces of music until I found what I thought was the right one. And one day, I was walking by the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and their famous fountain show started. The music they were playing was ‘Time to Say Goodbye’, and as I watched the water dance to it I thought, ‘I can dance to that song too’. So that was the beginning of the new freestyle and with the help of Karen Robinson everything else was built around it. The rest is history.”
Although this will be Jorst’s first trip to the World Cup, it will not be the first time she has competed on the international stage. In 2013, Jorst and her Westfalen stallion Kastel’s Vitalis represented the U.S. at the FEI World Breeding Championships for Dressage Young Horses in Verden, Germany, and last 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. The pair also finished as one of the top eight Grand Prix combinations in the country at the 2015 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions.
Jorst will draw upon all of her experience when preparing to canter down centerline at the World Cup Finals. “After riding at the Central Park Horse Show last fall with its incredibly electric atmosphere I feel like we can ride anywhere, plus we have had great experience in Florida where you show day and night in all conditions in front of big crowds, so I feel like we’re well-prepared,” said Jorst. “Nintendo is usually not afraid of things or too impressed by his surroundings, so that also gives me confidence. I tend to focus on the technique of the ride but at the same time Nintendo makes me relax and enjoy the performance because he loves it so much.”
As a Danish-born American citizen, Jorst looks forward to sharing her World Cup journey with extended family and friends from both the U.S. and Denmark. But after returning stateside, Jorst plans to head home to Reno, Nev. to spend quality time with family members, both human and equine, before gearing up again for this fall’s USEF Festival of Champions in California. “It’s been a whirlwind over the last two years, and it’s hard being away from my family to pursue these dreams,” she admitted. “Now I’ve achieved this huge goal but afterwards it will be time to relax for a bit, spend time with my husband, celebrate my daughter’s wedding this summer, and enjoy riding some of my horses who didn’t come to Florida this trip.
“I believe it’s so important to find the right balance in your life,” Jorst added. “My family and friends have been so understanding and supportive, but it’s hard on everyone – we all make a lot of sacrifices to pursue our dreams, but it’s worth it. With that support behind you, it’s amazing what you can get done with you put your mind to it. You can even take on the world!”
To follow Charlotte Jorst’s journey to the 2016 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, become a fan of her official athlete Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CharlotteJorst.