When I first received my copy of Charlotte’s book, I was so excited. Charlotte is literally Queen of Dressage to me, and because I’ve mentally put her on such a high pedestal for so long it’s easy to forget that she is actually human. In her book, Charlotte reveals that her journey to legendary dressage status didn’t begin with all of life’s advantages. Yes, she had a horsey mum and ponies, but she reveals that all through her childhood there were sacrifices to be made and things weren’t always easy.
I was expecting to hear lots about Valegro (Blueberry as he is known) and Carl, and for the book to be a little bit dry and sad. I know that the media picked up on how she struggled emotionally after the London Olympics and it was easy to be put off and think that this was what her book would be about, but actually, it surprised me. As I settled into the book’s very first pages I was soon chuckling as I read about the things she and her siblings got up to when they were young. I identified with lots of them, what young pony girl didn’t set up jumps with household items and teach their poor dog to show jump? You could tell her childhood was full of fond memories of ponies, many moments had such a bubbly happy feeling to them you could definitely imagine yourself as young Charlotte making a carriage out of an old crate for her pony to pull, and the chaos that would follow. Like so many pony mad girls school was to be endured, and her dedication to riding, her hard work and getting everything just right really shone through.
One of my favourite bits in the book had to be Charlotte’s utter disdain for a horse she used to own named Renegade (Rene) whom she claimed to have put her “off of black horses forever” which I thought was hilarious, especially when she said that he was the only horse she has ever had that she “waved merrily along his way” poor Rene! I loved that she shared with us that she didn’t adore every horse, and that sometimes they just aren’t the one for you.
I felt that I had joined Charlotte on an adventure as I read the book. I remember watching her at the London Olympics, and reading this book allowed me to experience the occasion from a completely different perspective. It was so interesting to find out just what she was thinking at the time and experience it with her rather than just as a television viewer. I found it hard to put the book away, the real Charlotte really caught my interest.
Overall, I found the book to be incredibly enjoyable and interesting, a far cry from the dry drone I had been expecting. It’s easy to read, written in a relaxed chatty style that can be followed by readers of all ages although it’s not written for children. I never thought of Charlotte as someone who could be in anyway relatable, and yet I was surprised to find elements of Charlotte within me, I sat there thinking “I really get that” several times.
Many of you might be expecting that the book focuses on Charlotte’s battle with depression. While I’ll admit it moved me to tears and helped me understand that no one is invincible, please do not look at this book and think the only thing of interest is her depression. It’s an incredible story about the life of an incredible woman, and I can honestly say that it has inspired me so much to get cracking with my riding and really get working.
Lots of love,