Day 1: A Masterclass with Charlotte Dujardin

Would it surprise you to know that I take my own advice when I attend clinics? What advice is that? I’m glad you asked!

  1. look for similarities. When you find similarities you will find a thread of training theory that runs true.
  2. be open-minded about the new ideas you hear

So often the opposite of these two things happens. People see what is different and then brace against the ideas because they feel threatened. Great training has many, many more similarities across disciplines than it often appears on the surface. With this in mind, it is often amazing how much you will agree with and understand.

If you keep an open mind about new ideas it will often be enough for you to begin to understand. Plus, being open-minded doesn’t mean you have to run home and immediately begin introducing the new idea to your horse. I fully encourage people to NOT try new ideas until they believe they understand the purpose. If you attend a clinic, see a new exercise, and DON’T understand…but still try it with your horse…your odds of it working are pretty low. To be the teacher you need confidence in what you are doing. If you don’t understand the purpose it will be difficult to convey it to your horse. 

Ready to learn!

Now, here are some of my takeaways from Day 1:

  • Charlotte buys horses with the intention of having them last. Her goal is the Grand Prix, not the young horse classes.
  • Make sure you are even in your own body, exercise to be a stronger rider
  • come out with a plan, don’t work on everything every day
  • give the reins away for 2-3 strides and see what happens. Is the horse in self-carriage?
  • do hundreds of transitions when you ride, this is a gymnastic sport
  • The best dressage horses can both extend and collect. Many do one or the other stronger.
  • Charlotte, “I don’t ride for fairly good, I ride for excellent.”
  • Discipline yourself to ride accurately. 
  • The tricks are the easy part, the transitions, the basics, are the difficult part. 
  • All the riders come in wanting to show what they can do. It is difficult to come out here in front of everyone and show your problems. 

I have pages of notes, many of which are reminders, some of which are personal stories Charlotte told, others are her quotes- she is so funny! Such a joy to learn from.

And much to my horse’s dismay, my book contains some new ideas…like the patterns that Charlotte was having the riders execute. Poor Willow, on Monday I will be attempting canter down centerline-shoulder fore, 10-meter turn-haunches in, half pass back to x, down center line…repeat!

Have you planned your continuing education for 2018? 

Stacy & Jesse are offering a limited number of clinics. 

Click here to learn more!


  1. […] I originally discovered it perusing Stacy Westfall’s blog, in her 2 post series (find Part 1 here) on attending Ms. Dujardin’s […]

  2. Janice on January 21, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    I love your support of Charlotte! I am a dressage rider and a big fan of you, Stacy. I strive for that sense of not needed the bridle. I saw Charlotte teach in LA. She has such a joy and energy about her, but also very tough. I think of her every time I do a crappy trot to walk transition. One thing I also love is that she doesn’t have that perfect rider body. But when she sits on a horse, she gets longer.

    • Stacy Westfall on January 24, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Yes, she was very particular about the downward transitions! You could hear the crowd hold their breath when she said, “Ok, have a walk.” because we all knew the riders had to be verrrrry precise! Great reminder about watching the details:)

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