This week I’m delighted to be chatting with British dressage rider Charlie McDowall . In addition to competing, Charlie is also studying Medicine at University. Read on to discover more about this very busy and talented young lady, her horses and her top tips for success.
Tell us a little about you and your horses
Hi! My name is Charlie. I’m 19 and have recently started studying Medicine at the University of Birmingham after taking a gap year, where I was lucky enough to help out at Carl Hester’s yard.
I have had my horse Obi (Obarma) since 2018. She is a bay 11 y/o Danish warmblood by Sunnyboy. I’m also lucky enough to be riding Audrey (Alive and Kicking) – a black 7 y/o mare who is owned by Charlotte Dujardin.
Livy (Alivia) was also a huge part of my journey so far, taking me to 2 European championships. We sold her to a talented rider called Isobel Knight before I started university and they have already had some great results!
How did horses come into your life?
My mum used to event (which I think was her plan for me too!!) However, after doing lots of showing and eventing, I then fell in love with dressage.
How long have you been riding?
I’m pretty sure there is a photo of me sat on a horse when I was about 6 months old! I have focussed on dressage since about 2013.
When and where do you ride?
I keep Obi on livery at Zoe Sleigh’s yard who conveniently lives next door! They take great care of her when I’m at university and I get the train back from Birmingham to ride her. She is schooled four times a week, hacked twice and has Sundays off. I also go and ride Audrey at Carl’s whenever I have a spare morning or afternoon from lectures.
How did you start riding?
My first pony was called William – a very naughty Shetland who definitely taught me how to stay on! I did my first dressage test in 2013 and have never looked back.
What you and your horses currently working on?
Both horses are working at PSG with the aim of doing the premier leagues and nationals on them next year. As I’m writing this, Audrey did her first PSG yesterday and showed how talented she will be once everything is more established. Obi will be ready soon too!
What do you love about riding?
I absolutely love the process of training the horses at home and the relationship with them this creates. I have learned so much in the last year watching Carl and Charlotte and enjoy (trying!!) to replicate this when I ride. The constant challenge of piecing everything together is a great motivation to me and the feeling of satisfaction when you achieve it is so rewarding.
What you would you like to be doing in the future a nd do you have any goals?
I hope to be working in the field of genetics or psychiatry. However, I cannot see a life without horses so I plan to balance working with dressage and I would love to train a horse through the levels up to International Grand Prix.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
Yes, along with many other dressage riders I am a perfectionist which has led to nerves when competing!
How do you deal with them?
I have worked with a sports psychologist to create a pre-competition routine that helps me to focus on myself and put things into perspective.
Your Top Tip
Take every opportunity to learn from people around you and previous mistakes. I find writing everything down really helps and often write out how I’m going to ride each test. Sometimes the bits between the movements are the most important!!
The Final Furlong
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
All at Once – he’s Audrey’s father and after seeing him compete at the Olympics he looks like a bigger version of her!
Who is your equestrian hero?
I really look up to Charlotte and Carl as their training methods and discipline provides the perfect atmosphere for horses to learn.
If you could have five people to dinner who would they be?
Adele, Graham Norton, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston and my grandad who sadly passed away this summer. He was one of my biggest champions for studying medicine!
Favourite colour horse?
Favourite horse event
Roast potatoes or sushi
Favourite way to relax
Cooking with friends
If you enjoyed meeting Charlie you might like to view more chatting with interviews here You can keep up with Charlie’s progress and check out her instagram page here