Rebecca Ashton here. As an equestrian journalist, I get to interview people who are top of their game and have so many ideas and information to pass on. This often transcribes into quite long interviews, sometimes a few thousand words.
While the interviews I do will still be transcribed and offered to you in written format (with great photos of course!), this is for those of you who want something interesting to listen to while you’re getting the dinner ready or driving in your car or mucking out the stables so you don’t miss out.
Sönke Rothenberger: The Important Things
Even though still in his 20s, German dressage star Sönke Rothenberger has already had massive success in the competition arena. Following numerous successes in Pony and Young Rider Championships, the German has continued on in the Seniors with Team gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2018 World Championships as well as the 2017 and 2019 European Championships. He also received individual silver in the Special and Freestyle at the Europeans in 2017. I caught up with him at Aachen where he rode his new star Fendi in the 5*Grand Prix. Having recently beaten Dalera at the German Championships, all eyes were on the duo and although the test didn’t go quite to plan, we talked about learning from situations and changing conditions for the horse while keeping things in perspective and viewing the whole journey. Competition pressure, Cosmo’s amazing freestyle and how Cosmo and Fendi compare. The benefits of training your horse to Grand Prix rather than buying the finished product; buying foals, daily training, the honesty of family, Young Riders versus Seniors and perhaps the most important point, keeping your horse’s personality alive. Sönke has THE BEST analogies…he’s a joy to listen to. Don’t ride a pug at Aachen!
Carl Hester: More Top Horses, Team GB...and life
I catch up with dressage legend Carl Hester at Aachen CHIO. We get the lowdown on the Aachen stars Imhotep and Times Kismet and getting young horses to Grand Prix. Carl chats about his new partner Fame and En Vogue and hot horses in general; embracing science in the sport, the role of “Team GB”, getting those one percenters and the challenge of making the team with Charlotte and Lottie around.We reflect on the World Championships in Herning and what was Carl’s slip up?
Will Matthew: Isabell Werth's Australian rider
Will Matthew is the overnight success that’s not an overnight success. Originating from Western Australia he now rides for and trains with Isabel Werth. I caught up with Will fresh from his Louisdor Qualifier win in Hagen beating his trainer Isabell. Riding in the top sport in Europe, Will is definitely the master of making unrealistic dreams come true, putting in the hard yards and making his own luck. We talk about riding smart and with compromise, learning from different systems and we deep dive into training with Isabell, the journey with Belantis and his current two Grand Prix horses.
Lyndal Oatley: Dressage Olympian; the journey
Australian dressage rider Lyndal Oatley is based in Europe and married to Swedish team member Patrik Kittel. She has competed in two Olympics, London 2012 and Rio 2016 and has her eye on Paris 2024. She has also represented her home country at the 2014 WEG in Normandy and the 2016 World Cup Final in Gothenburg. I caught up with Lyndal just after her win at Hagen Horses and Dreams just a few weeks ago. We talk about her three Grand Prix horses, the Australian team spirit, how Europe is different and how it has challenged her. We touch on competing and not being afraid to push for more.The ups and downs of the journey and riding strategically, watching Isabell, dressage in Australia, Sandro Boy’s half pass….and why are mares are so good?
Gareth Hughes: Technique, Horsemanship and riding the Grand Prix
Team GB dressage rider Gareth Hughes has won over 60 national and international titles including team silver in 2014 and 2022 WEG and 2021 European Dressage Championships and was the team reserve for Tokyo Olympics.
We talk about his current superstar Classic Briolinca and the success at Herning. Why did it all work out so well and how do you turn a team of champions into a champion team? We all know how enthusiastic the crowd was and Gareth gives us his perspective from the arena.
What makes Lottie Fry and Charlotte so good? The importance of technique and what that actually means. Picking the right trainers. Training with Carl, the “Carl Legacy” and what is good riding? Coping with championships when you first get on a team.
The combinations that have changed the sport in the modern era, how the sport has evolved and the importance of sport today.
Coping when Olympic dreams are shattered. Being the fourth rider in the new Olympic format.
How his motivations have changed and what the future holds.…..and vaulting!
Charlotte Jorst: Success in Dressage and Business
Today’s interview is with the generous, genuine, insightful and pragmatic Charlotte Jorst. Although on the surface Charlotte’s life might look utopian, she has had her fair share of obstacles but she’s the sort of person who just picks herself up, dusts herself off and gets on with life. Self made, her success in business, as well as the dressage arena is quite impressive. Having founded the watch company Skakgen, it was sold in 2012 for a reported USD237M to Fossil. It was then that Charlotte’s dressage career went full-steam-ahead as she purchased some very capable horses from Europe. She also started her next business project, Kastel Denmark, the beautiful and unique sun protection clothing line born out of Charlotte’s own experience with skin cancer. With her current Grand Prix horse, Nintendo, Charlotte competed at her first Nations Cup in Rotterdam in 2015 where the US Team won Bronze. In 2016 the pair competed in the World Cup Dressage Final in Sweden, and then went on to win the US National Grand Prix Championships in 2018. In 2019, they helped the US Team win Gold at the FEI Dressage Nations Cup in Wellington. I caught up with Charlotte at Aachen where once again she was a member of the US Dressage Team.
In this interview we talk about starting a business and starting in the sport of dressage; purchasing super stallion Vitalis; goal setting; the negative that turned into the positive that is Kastel. The importance of grit and hard work and the difficulty on dealing solely on talent. We touch on managing the older equine athlete; the future of her star Nintendo; cloning horses and why you’d do it; rider fitness; handling nerves; coaches; groom; coping with difficult situations and managing your rides for success.