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Guest Columnist
June 23, 2014
Charlotte Jacobs: Adventures in Europe
By Charlotte Jacobs
Monday, June 23, 2014 :: Posted 09:15:31 AM EDT

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© Courtesy of North Star Ventures: Kachina in the 2* Grand Prix of St. TropezCharlotte Jacobs and Kachina in the 2* Grand Prix of St. Tropez

Charlotte Jacobs just entered the amateur ranks this year, and, after a successful junior career, began riding with Olympian Rodrigo Pessoa. She just finished her freshman year of college and has now traveled to Belgium to compete in Europe for the summer. She took some time to talk about her experience so far and her first two shows, including the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show.

A few weeks ago, my horses and I packed our bags and made the journey to Belgium, which will be our home base for the remainder of the summer. When I first moved to Belgium, I was definitely worried about living by myself, but honestly, it’s a lot cooler and more fun than I expected. I am living in town, and it is only 30 minutes from Brussels, which is really nice. I have my own apartment and now my dog Clover is here. The days are very relaxed. I ride in the morning and have the afternoon to hang out at the barn.

© Courtesy of North Star Ventures: Bartani is extremely mischievous back at the barnBartani is extremely mischievous back at the barn

I brought four of my best jumpers to Europe. We brought a couple of younger horses – Char Grey who is 5 and Darthus who is 6.  I also brought my veteran mount Kachina and my second horse Bartani. We were going to bring Cyrina Z, but when she was loaded on the plane, she injured herself. We decided it would be best to leave her back home to recover. We think she got her foot caught in something, because she fell down in the crate. She is home now though, and she is working and healthy.

© Courtesy of North Star Ventures: Char Gray and Gabriel Rodrigues

Char Gray and Gabriel Rodrigues

My first show over in Europe was in Bonheiden, Belgium. It was really nice; everyone told me that it was a small, okay show, but I thought it was really nice. There was one ring, one schooling area – very simple, but the courses were not small by any means, so it was a good show to warm up at. Both of my horses were great. Kachina jumped Saturday in the 1.45m ranking class, but I had a time fault on her. Bartani jumped a clear round in the 1.40m, so it was a good start.

The week after we went to St. Tropez for the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show. The show was definitely one of the nicest shows I’ve ever been to. It was amazing. Everything was so well put together. Everyone there was so nice, and it was probably five steps to the beach. It was so cool that you could walk over in your show clothes, change and relax on the beach after my classes. I’ve never been to a horse show like that.

© Courtesy of North Star Ventures: St. Tropez after flatting BartaniSt. Tropez after flatting Bartani

I am really impressed with all of the horses that I chose to take overseas with me. They have really stepped up to the plate, and I am proud of our results so far, especially since this is such a new experience for me. Bartani is an 8-year-old that we got at the end of Florida. He did really well in Bonheiden, and we took him as my second horse to Saint Tropez. He’s kind of had to step up now that Cyrina is out of commission for a little while.

© Courtesy of North Star Ventures: Bartani VIPBartani checking out the VIP area

He is a bit of a different ride from Kachina, who needs a really forward, positive ride. He’s a bit more ‘German’ in terms of his style; you kind of have to hold him together and keep him in your hand or else he will get on his nose a little bit. He is honestly pretty straightforward and so much fun to ride.

My experience in Europe so far has been great. During WEF, I was commuting back and forth to school, so I couldn’t really sit down and just focus on my horses. I had a lot going on back home, but now that I have made the move here, it has been a lot easier. My riding has definitely gotten better because I am here and just focused on my horses. There aren’t any more distractions with school, and I definitely think that has helped. I am not the type of person who can just fly in to a show and say “okay, let’s go in the 1.50m.” It is not easy for me to do that.

© Courtesy of North Star Ventures: Bartani in the 1.40 in St. Tropez
Bartani in the 1.40 in St. Tropez 

Next week, we are going to go to Monaco, which is a GCT competition. Kachina is going to stay home that week. The ring is extremely small, and she is a huge mare. I am actually going to bring Darthus, the 6-year-old, and show him there as my second horse while Bartani does the bigger classes.

© Courtesy of North Star Ventures: DarthusDarthus taking a snooze

I believe this opportunity has completely transformed me, not only as a rider but also as a person. I am learning how to live on my own on a completely different continent and take new risks as a rider. The shows here are unbelievable, and the organization is amazing. To me, nothing compares to Europe when it comes to showing.

I absolutely love competing abroad. I am so grateful for the opportunity to train with a rider as talented as Rodrigo, and it has really allowed me to grow as a competitor. I needed and change and to experience other things – different competitions, different ways of riding, a different system. I definitely think it has helped my riding, and I think it’s been a good change. I am really looking forward to the rest of the summer.

© Courtesy of North Star Ventures: CloverClover 

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