Charlotte Bredahl was a member of the 1992 bronze medal U.S. Olympic dressage team in Barcelona riding Monsieur. In 1997, she was part of the silver–winning team at the North American Championship on Lugano. She trained both horses from the start. Charlotte is a USEF (S) judge and FEI 4* judge who has judged all over the world. Three years ago, she was appointed USEF Assistant Youth Coach and now dedicates most of her time to coaching. She recently purchased a home in Wellington, Florida, where she plans to spend winters. Do you have a question you want Charlotte to answer? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What made you decide to buy a home in Wellington?
I’ve been coming here for more than 10 years. In 2006 I had two very good FEI horses (Komo and Eskada) and spent the winter competing here. The following years, I came to judge on a regular basis. The past years have been dedicated more to coaching than judging — I find it a lot more rewarding. After spending so many years as a rider, trainer and judge, I feel like I have so much to give back. In spite of owning three wonderful horses, I decided this year it was time to give up competing myself and focus only on helping others have success in the show ring. I have always loved coming to Wellington and once I made the decision to stop competing, I knew it was time to buy a home and commit to spending winters here.
What makes Wellington so special and how does it compare with California?
I was born in Denmark but have spent 40 years of my life in California and love living there. We have some fantastic trainers and some very good shows. For me personally, the size of California is a challenge: I don’t live near the CDIs and it is at least a four- to six-hour drive depending on traffic. In Wellington everything is so close. My new house is literally seven minutes from the main show grounds and even closer to where the shows will be next year. From some of the barns, you can ride to the shows. There is something going on non-stop: a show, clinic or symposium and usually with top riders and trainers. I never get tired of being completely immersed with horses and dressage, so for me it’s ideal. Of course, the weather is amazing most of the time. I absolutely love sitting outside at night having dinner in 70-degree weather. Not to mention my big dog, Bandit, is welcome at all the restaurants.
What has your schedule been like this winter?
I wear many different hats, but enjoy them all. First of all, I am working as USEF Assistant Youth Coach with George Williams. I think we make a very good team and work very well together. This year we were extremely grateful to have Kim Van Kampen and Discover Dressage commit to a large sponsorship of the Emerging Athlete Program (EAP), which will allow us to assist more riders than ever before. Robert Dover’s very successful Horsemastership was also an observation event for the EAP and several riders were invited into our program. One of the many advantages of being in the program is that you get one-on-one coaching from either me or George. I worked with six invited riders in Wellington. In several cases, the rider and the trainer wanted my input from a judge’s perspective and would ride tests in front of me. George and I also conducted a two day Observation Event in March and several more riders from there were invited into the program. We will be conducting another Observation Event in California and one more at a location yet to be determined.
One of my other “jobs” is to be an observer for the USEF Developing Program being led by Debbie McDonald. This program is not age-based. USEF will give me a list of riders who have asked to be observed at designated CDIs in hopes of being invited into the program. I’ll watch them compete and write a report on each one. This is mostly about evaluating potential as a future international contender. Last week I spent three days with Debbie McDonald at an Observation/Training Event for the Developing Program. My job was to give riders a judge’s perspective. Of course, it’s a privilege working with Debbie. One of the many things I love about this sport is that we all keep learning indefinitely. I am very excited about the quality of riders and horses we have coming up. As one of five selectors for the World Equestrian Games, I watch every Grand Prix class with much interest. In addition to all these projects here in Wellington, I have also been teaching a lot of riders privately. I feel very lucky to teach some very talented up-and-coming riders as well as seasoned professionals.
What about your own riding?
When I first arrived in Wellington, I was asked to be a judge at the Challenge of the Americas (a fundraiser for breast cancer research and a grand prix quadrille competition). My answer was that I would much rather ride — the only problem was I didn’t have a horse. I ended up borrowing a wonderful horse named Weis Guy owned by Darrin Lawrence. I had a blast riding him and loved my teammates: Betsy Steiner, George Williams, Kim Herslow, Kasey Pery and Pam Goodrich. I am pretty sure our choreographer, Terry Ciotto Gallo, and our coach, Bill Warren, were quite concerned about my abilities as a quadrille rider. The first two times I was very lost, but got it figured out in time for the big event. Aside from Weis Guy, I also had the pleasure of riding a horse I had trained for three years in California named Rivendall. He’s one of my favorite horses and he was here with one of my students, Jaclyn Meinen. I have also been riding a PRE stallion owned by Jane Bistline as well as other students’ horses. I am honestly glad I didn’t bring my own horses because I wouldn’t have had time to ride them: I have been in Wellington four months and only had two days off. When you love what you do, it never seems like work. I’m headed back to California for the summer, but I’ll be conducting clinics across the U.S. and will also be spending time in Europe.