Feb. 25, 2020 – London, U.K. – Twenty-four-year-old Charlotte Fry, or “Lottie” as she is known by, has been involved with horses since the day she was born. Daughter of the late British dressage Olympian Laura Fry, it is no shock that Lottie became a gifted dressage rider herself. At 14-years-old she started training with Olympian Carl Hester, who eventually referred her to Anne van Olst in Holland because of the opportunities she could provide Lottie. The young athlete has been based in Holland since 2014 and has found great success with Van Olst Horses. In 2018 she was named with European U25 Champion with Dark Legend and champion at the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses with Glamourdale. 2019 was Lottie’s first year competing as a senior and she made her senior team championship debut at Rotterdam for the FEI European Championships with the British team consisting of Fry, Gareth Hughes, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin.
This year, Fry has campaigned Dark Legend and Everdale in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Western European League, and most recently she earned a personal best of 81.03% with Dark Legend in the Grand Prix Freestyle in Gothenburg, Sweden.
PS Dressage sat down with Lottie at 2019 Olympia, the London International Horse Show, to talk with her about her life in the Netherlands, her riding and what her plans are for the future. Here is what she had to say:
What is your favorite aspect of living in the Netherlands? Both personally and professionally in the equestrian world?
I love where I am. It is such an amazing place with around 150 horses at Van Olst Horses. I love being in the Netherlands. A big reason I love it is for competing, as there are so many different venues so close by compared to England where a lot of traveling is necessary. I have found that the Dutch are actually really fun, they have so many different festivals and there’s always something wacky going on in the city!
Best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I have ever received is that ‘Life is one big half halt!’
What is the most memorable lesson you have ever had?
Probably one of the first times I rode Glamourdale. I had a lesson from Anne on him and I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole week.
What’s your most embarrassing horse show moment?
When I was younger, my junior horse Z Flemmenco was very nervous and I got on him at a competition in my tailcoat for the first time. He flew from underneath me and I had to do a few vaulting moves across the car park to manage to land on my feet and bring him to a stop at the other end of the car park!
What is one of your riding weaknesses and what tools have you used to improve it?
My left hand is a big weakness for me – it has a mind of its own! I think Anne corrects me about it at least 50 times a day to help me improve it.
If you could choose another career what would it be?
Honestly, it has always been dressage for me! I have never considered another career so I don’t have anything I would choose outside of dressage.
If there is one thing missing in life right now what or who would it be?
I would love to have an English supermarket, like Marks and Spencer’s, close to me here in Holland!
What is your favorite book of all time? Favorite Movie or TV show?
I don’t really have favorites, honestly. I am personally not a fan of re-watching or re-reading. I always want to read or watch something new that I have never seen before!
What would you say are the most overlooked areas of training?
Transitions! Transitions! Transitions! Transitions are so important for many reasons. Whether a horse has just been backed or they are riding Grand Prix tests, transitions are a beneficial tool and they teach horses a variety of important lessons.
What have you learned most about working with so many talented young stallions?
I love riding the young horses and stallions. There are a lot of big stallion shows in the Netherlands and Germany, so they learn to show in the big atmospheres from a young age. The stallions always love to show off – they are really fun to ride! I wouldn’t say I’ve had to adjust my riding, but riding so many different horses has definitely improved my riding and taught me a lot! Every horse is different!
What is her everyday routine look like?
I start around 6:00 or 6:30 a.m.. I feed the horses and then I start riding. I usually ride about 12 horses a day. I have a range of horses from 3-year-olds to Grand Prix. Anne [van Olst] is usually riding her horses at the same time and keeping an eye on me. Then, in the afternoons, she gives me lessons.
How do you balance training so many horses a day with your personal life?
I guess a lot of my personal life is involved with the horses, so I don’t have to do a ton of balancing. I don’t think of it as a job, it’s really my life! On Sundays, we have an easier day, and I try to visit my family and friends in England a couple of times a year.
Has your young age ever affected you mentally? Have people questioned your experience and how have you overcome those doubts?
I still think it’s incredible to be riding at the same competitions as some of the best riders in the world. They are all inspirational! Sometimes it almost feels like a dream, but I absolutely love competing and love the big atmospheres! I have such an amazing team around me and my bosses Anne and Gertjan van Olst are so supportive. I’ve never experienced any negativity due to my age. All of the riders I have met are always friendly and supportive, so it has never affected me mentally. I have been competing from a young age and I’ve never been a nervous person. I enjoy the extra pressure of the bigger competitions!
2018 was such a stand out year for your career with your success with Dark Legend and Glamourdale – how do you stay grounded?
2018 was amazing! And so was 2019! I guess I just made sure that I enjoyed the moment. We always like to celebrate with the whole team to mark the occasion. Then, the next day, I am back to training my other horses and looking for my next show!
What’s next for you? What are your goals in 2020 and 5-years down the road?
It would be amazing if we could qualify for the FEI World Cup Finals in Vegas this year, but we will just take each show as it comes and see how it goes! The big aim for next year is Tokyo, but I’m still young and so are my horses, so there is no pressure. In five years, I am definitely aiming for the 2024 Olympics, and I hope I’m still loving dressage as much as I am now!
GET TO KNOW LOTTIE’S TOP HORSES
Dark Legend: 2018 U25 European Champion, 2019 mount for Lottie in the senior European Dressage Championships
He is 12-years-old this year. He is a dark bay gelding by Zucchero x Tango. I’ve ridden him since he was a 7-year-old. He’s a nervous horse and it’s taken a long time to build his confidence but we have an amazing partnership now!
Everdale is 11-years-old this year. He is a black stallion by Lord Leatherdale x Negro. I’ve ridden him since he was an 8-year-old. He is amazing and is so much fun to work – he loves it! I also ride a lot of his offspring and they are all incredible with the same amazing work ethic and talent!
Glamourdale: 2018 7-year-old Young Horse World Champion
Glamourdale is a black stallion that is 9-years-old this year. He is by Lord Leatherdale x Negro as well. I’ve ridden him since he was six and he has so much power – you feel like you hardly touch the floor when you’re riding him! He loves to show off and he loves a crowd!