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BLOG: When Opportunity Knocks (Part 2)

Abbie O'Brien March Blog

Abbie and Rajah.

© Abbie O'Brien


Abbie was fortunate enough to be selected to take part in the Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass at Boneo Park. In part two of her blog, the time has come to finally meet her idol...

By Abbie O'Brien


We all one by one took turns meeting Charlotte and discussing our horses with her before heading off into the arena to do some basic work so she could see the horses’ paces. Charlotte was professional, warm, interested in our horses and our journeys so far. It is quite something to have a top level rider and athlete who is also a very good communicator and coach. Overall, after having met Charlotte I felt much more relaxed and confident about how Saturday was going to go.

After saying that I have to admit that Saturday was a very long day! My time slot for the masterclass was not until 7.45pm that night! I spent some time watching competition to pass the time. When the masterclass finally started at 5pm I was about ready for a wine. I watched the first couple of horses go, and had two wines! Finally, I went to get Rajah ready for action.

All I can say is, Rajah you superstar! We went straight into the arena and I held my breath in anticipation and my amazing horse went in, lowered his head and neck and wondered what the fuss was about. He switched onto me and we were ready for anything.

Charlotte began while I was warming up by discussing the type of horse. He is certainly an older style of dressage horse, a real worker type but he is correct in his movement which is one of the most important aspects when looking for a dressage horse. Rajah is very much a personal reflection of me, I have trained him since a 4yo so I was very aware and keen to hear what Charlotte had to say. We began with canter pirouette work and she had us working on a circle performing shoulder fore and then changing to travers and going forward and back in the canter. We then made the circle smaller, did the same exercise and collected the canter to a pirouette canter and let him turn. He is very good at canter pirouettes so this was certainly worth showing to people how to make the horse adjustable whilst doing complex movements and not letting them become stuck. We did some more work with this canter by doing a half pass to the centreline, half pirouette at the end then half pass out of the pirouette. I had not done this exercise before but we got the hang of it and he became very soft and supply throughout his body.


Abbie O'Brien and Rajah's Rave, Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass - Photo Stephen Mowbray

Abbie and Rajah ride in front of a capacity crowd.

© Stephen Mowbray


It is at this point that I would like to recognise the input of my coach Lone Joergensen and how important she has been in my journey thus far – throughout my experience with Charlotte it became very apparent how important the basics are especially with regard to the horse being balanced and the rider correct and hence being able to perform movements correctly and evenly on both sides – this was reflected in all of the exercises given by Charlotte and it was such a nice feeling to be confident in knowing that Rajah and I have had the training and were able to perform those exercises as and when required.

We then started some work on the flying changes – Charlotte is a big fan of doing flying changes on a long side of the arena next to the wall. She always puts the weaker flying change to the outside and in the case of Rajah and I, I tend to flex him a little too much to the right in his neck which makes that change a little less than to the other side. On the long side, I had no choice but to ride him straight or risk him running into the edge of the arena! We started with four tempi changes, then threes, then twos. After I rode my first line of each, Charlotte then demanded that they be bigger, bolder, more forward – and most importantly, she told me to not be afraid of making a mistake for changing something or taking a risk. This is the only way we improve.








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