Recently our deputy editor met with Charlotte Jorst at her spectacular, cliff-side home in Laguna Beach, California. Charlotte is dressage rider and entrepreneur, whose unflinching determination and positive attitude yields tremendous success in and out of the arena. Just as this issue was going to press it was announced that she was chosen to represent the USA at this year’s Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Compared to many top riders, Charlotte Jorst began riding late in life. She was 35 when she bought her first horse and began taking lessons. “As a child, I had ridden the Norwegian fjord horses bareback, but that was it,” Charlotte told Equestrian Living (EQ) as we visited with her at her stunning oceanside villa, Rockledge, in Laguna Beach, California.
The villa, a 100-year-old National Historic Site and a second home for the Jorsts, is an intriguing maze of gardens, 12 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, and numerous balconies that winds up the steep cliff by the Pacific. It was carved out of the rock, and hand-cut stairs descend to 100 feet of beach. Over the years, Rockledge has welcomed Hollywood royalty. Actress Bette Davis met her third husband here, and Errol Flynn was known to visit.
She and her husband, Henrik, originally moved from their homeland of Denmark to New York City, where, from their apartment, they built Skagen Designs. The business grew to become a hugely successful company known for its sleek watches embodying the best of minimalist Danish design.
After Skagen was acquired by Fossil, the world’s largest watch company in 2012, Charlotte was suddenly free to pursue her riding career in earnest.
Over the past year, her career has grown by leaps and bounds. “2015 was really a year of firsts,” Charlotte beamed. “I competed for the first time in Wellington, in Europe, and in New York City. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that was the best, because each thing we did was just better than the last. It’s just been unbelievable.”
Charlotte ended sixth in the rankings in the U.S. last year after winning the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Grand Prix with the highest score in the country for an adult amateur. She also competed in the grand prix at Nations Cup in Europe, where the team won the bronze medal.
“At the Festival of Champions in Wellington, I went for the first time last year, and I was completely nervous. I was like a deer in the headlights,” she laughed. “So now I really look forward to going back and showing what we can do. We’ve done so much, and I’ve learned a lot.”
Charlotte’s season at WEF has been remarkable. In early March, the USEF announced that Jorst a will be representing the USA at this year’s Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.