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#20 From Athlete to Icon with Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour

Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour is a Danish dressage rider who is currently ranked 2nd and 3rd in the world, as of July 2022. Cathrine is an Olympic athlete, having competed in 2016 at Rio and 2021 at Tokyo, and she won double individual silver as well as helped her team win gold at the 2022 World Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark.

But apart from her career success, Cathrine embodies much of what the dressage world wants in a champion - her riding skills, love, and understanding of her equestrian partners that led her to become one of the world’s best.

Podcast Transcript

This transcript was created by an AI and has not been proofread.

This transcript was created by AI and has not been proofread

[SPEAKER 2]Welcome to the Equestrian Connection podcast from wehorse, the online riding academy. My name’s Danielle Kroll, and I’m usually your host, but on this episode, we have a very special interview to end 2022. Christian is here with me, the co-founder and CEO of wehorse, who you may recognize as the podcast guest on our last episode. Christian, you’ve been to Denmark recently interviewing the talented Catherine Laudrup-Dufour. Tell us about it.

[SPEAKER 3]Yes, Danielle. I’ve been to Denmark, north of Copenhagen, about one hour. This is where Catherine Laudrup-Dufour is living, and she is one of the Dressage superstars, team world champion, second and third in the current world rankings, and really an incredible person and athlete. And apart from her career success, Catherine embodies very much of what I think, and probably many of you also think, the Dressage world’s want in a champion. Her riding skills, the love and understanding for her equestrian partners, that eventually led her to become one of the best and I think, Danielle, her story is not fully written yet. She is only 30 and this podcast episode is personally in my top 5 and it has everything. tears, joy, a deep talk. We talk also about the pressure she is under when competing or showing everything that she is doing on a daily basis on social media. So it has a lot. And yeah, I’m super excited that this is our Christmas episode, Danielle.

[SPEAKER 2]Awesome. I know the equestrian world, myself included, is a really big fan of hers. So I’m so excited to listen. Hi Catherine.

[SPEAKER 3]We are here on your estate around 60 minutes north of Copenhagen in Denmark.

[SPEAKER 2]This is where you live. Yes.

[SPEAKER 3]Where you and your wife have a stable with over 25 horses. You are double silver medalist of the World Equestrian Games.

[SPEAKER 2]True.

[SPEAKER 3]What does dressage mean to you?

[SPEAKER 1]That’s a big question, but you know, it’s my life and it’s been my life for as long as I can remember. So it means a lot. It’s not only my passion and what drives me every single day, but it’s also like my life. It’s a lifestyle.

[SPEAKER 3]What’s this fuel behind your passion?

[SPEAKER 1]I mean the fuel behind my passion is definitely sort of the partnership between horse and rider. It’s not like the shows specifically, it’s more the partnership you build like in between you and your horses and the fact that you spend more time with them than like the rest of the people you know in your life.

[SPEAKER 3]So it’s not necessarily the ribbons that are the end result?

[SPEAKER 1]I mean, it’s not at all the ribbons.

[SPEAKER 2]It is the partnership.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, if I should pick between, you know, no normal daily training and shows, I’d pick normal training any day.

[SPEAKER 3]So why even writing shows then?

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]Well, that’s why I’m not writing like a lot of shows. I write some shows and I, I try to be like, like picky and like still having energy and like, um, engagement enough to really go full on for those shows. But that is why I’m not writing shows every single weekend, because I am not doing it for the shows.

[SPEAKER 3]So you’re very carefully selecting if it also fits into the bigger plan with Olympics, World Equestrian Games and these things?

[SPEAKER 1]I’m trying to like take care of the horses that I’m not, you know, riding miles every single weekend, but I try to sort of spare them for the important things.

[SPEAKER 3]You are not coming from a horse family?


[SPEAKER 3]I think you started riding when you have been five, right?

[SPEAKER 2]Yes, that’s true.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, so a friend from school, she asked me one day, well, would you like to join me for riding? I was like, no, no, why should I? And then somehow she, you know, got me.

[SPEAKER 2]She insisted.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, she insisted. And then I went to the riding school and, um, I remember that I was quite hooked on it immediately. Not the writing part, but more like the grooming part, the being with the horses part in the stable. But she stopped quite quickly, but then I continued writing.

[SPEAKER 3]But if you have been more interested in the grooming, when did this sport aspect come into play?

[SPEAKER 1]Actually, when I was quite young, I think, you know, maybe nine, 10 years old, I really sort of figured out that I did want it. I do want it to compete. And also, I remember when I was quite young, I was already, you know, started dreaming about European championships.

[SPEAKER 3]You started dreaming about those things?

[SPEAKER 1]I remember my daddy, you know, back home in our little kitchen, he asked me one day, well, what do you really want with this riding? Like, what’s your dream? And I almost didn’t dare to tell him, but I was like, well, one day I’m dreaming about doing a European Championships.

[SPEAKER 2]And I might have been like… Doing or winning?

[SPEAKER 1]Like doing, just participating. And I think I was maybe 10 years old back then or something. And I did my first European once two years after that.

[SPEAKER 3]How does it feel from now, you’re team world champion for instance, to look back on these times when that has been just a dream?

[SPEAKER 1]That’s really funny and somehow a bit surreal that it really happened and that we are here today. Of course it’s been years and years of training and hard work, but it’s fantastic that somehow we did it.

[SPEAKER 3]We have also been talking before we started the podcast here for you guys that you are not coming from a horse family. Do you think that it’s harder for you that you are not coming from a family that is familiar with all the routines and actually also the sacrifice and the hard work that comes into play getting on the level where you are right now?

[SPEAKER 1]I mean, of course, it would have been easier if I came from a family like where mom and dad had, you know, done the Olympic Games 10 times together and all that. But at the same time, I feel really lucky because my parents, they were just like fantastic. They sacrificed everything so that I could do my sport. And we teamed up with a really good trainer quite early in my career. I think it was something like 11 years old. and they always trusted him like a thousand percent. So when it comes to that, I feel that I’ve had like all the support that I could have, you know, because they just did everything they could, everything that they could to support me with the sport and, you know, trying to show me the right direction of like where to go and what to do. But of course it would have been nice to have a daily trainer back home with mommy or daddy if they knew horses. But somehow they managed to do a fantastic job putting me in a team that could lift that job.

[SPEAKER 3]Providing the conditions basically for it.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah and also you know they did everything they could like economically to buy the best horses we could at the time. They spent all their money in giving me lessons on those horses we bought and for my trainer to travel with me around the world for shows so they did everything they could to support me from a very early age.

[SPEAKER 3]So how did it go on? You started riding on a certain competitive level when you have been 11, 12?

[SPEAKER 2]No, earlier, 10.

[SPEAKER 1]Because I did my first like Danish championship when I was 10, I think.

[SPEAKER 3]For pony riders?

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, and then I did my first Baltic and European championship when I was 11 or 12.

[SPEAKER 3]Which is super early also.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, it’s quite early.

[SPEAKER 3]Has that been important that these early stages already pointed to that direction? Okay, it could be a bigger career?

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I think also like talking about like pressure at a big championships, you know, I remember my first European in Italy when I was 11 or 12, it was like, well, but it’s the same class. So I don’t think I really realized that it was like a European championship. So the fact that we started quite early with those like big shows made me sort of used to the pressure without really realizing that there was a lot of pressure on. So that’s, you know, that’s definitely meant the world to the right arm today.

[SPEAKER 3]And I’ve seen a picture that your mother has been holding a good luck teddy bear during shows.

[SPEAKER 2]Is that true?

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah. So since, I think since maybe 2009, I don’t know, around that year, this teddy bear, Gerd Dürich, actually a German, he’s named after a German, what’s it called? One that raced, you know, a bicycle.

[SPEAKER 2]Jan Ullrich? Is it Jan Ullrich?

[SPEAKER 1]No, Gerd Dürich.

[SPEAKER 2]Gerd Dürich.

[SPEAKER 1]He did like, you know, court racing.

[SPEAKER 2]Okay.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah. So he’s named after German.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]So that’s really funny. And he’s been with us.

[SPEAKER 2]That’s an interesting name. Yeah, I know. I know.

[SPEAKER 1]It comes with a long story.

[SPEAKER 2]Did you choose the name?

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I chose the name together with some of my friends that were in the game back then. And yeah, so that’s like… And he’s still with us today.

[SPEAKER 2]It’s quite funny and he’s… Is Steady Bear still traveling? Oh yeah, he is.

[SPEAKER 1]He’s traveling around the world and he’s always with us at the court as well.

[SPEAKER 2]Yes. That’s really funny.

[SPEAKER 1]That’s the only thing that we have to bring. You know, we’re not like, is it called superstitious? About anything, but that Gerd, he has to go with us.

[SPEAKER 3]I mean, and eventually it’s those routines that also help you feel comfortable wherever you are.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, it is.

[SPEAKER 3]I mean, Ingrid Klimke, for instance, she’s carrying three Cavalettis

[SPEAKER 1]Every time for sure?

[SPEAKER 3]Every time, regardless where you are. She brought Cavalettis to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics.

[SPEAKER 2]Wow, that’s so cool.

[SPEAKER 3]So I think everyone has their ritual, basically. At what point did you realize, okay, this could potentially lead to a professional life in the equestrian world? Has there been this turning point or was this a coincidence?

[SPEAKER 1]I mean, it was quite late on because I remember when I was maybe 20, I was sort of set on, when I was finished with the U21, you know, the young writers, I wanted to quit and sort of try to have a normal life in Copenhagen, you know.

[SPEAKER 2]University.

[SPEAKER 1]University, be with the friends, go in the cafes, you know.

[SPEAKER 2]Partying.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, exactly. But then I remember that it came, it really came closer to when I had to stop and I was like,

[SPEAKER 2]Well, that’s not really going to happen.

[SPEAKER 1]And then when I finished high school, my parents told me that I could have like one gap year. And sort of to see if I could really live from writing, teaching, you know, basically what I do today. And then I knew that I had to start on quite early, because if I should show them, like within one year, that I could live from it, then I had to start on quite early. So already in the first year of the high school, I started my old company called Do Fortress Ash, started teaching, taking horses and training, traveling around, having clinics, you know, just started like on a very small level. for me to test like directly after high school if I could live from it.

[SPEAKER 2]Is it worth it basically?

[SPEAKER 1]Is it worth it? I mean it was my dream but I didn’t know if I could you know really pull it.

[SPEAKER 3]One of the or probably the most important horse for you in your story and in your career so far is Cassidy.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah of course. Yeah, he’s really the apple of my eye and without him I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I’m really thankful to my parents because they decided that I could keep him if I wanted. We bought him in 2010 and that was my last junior year.

[SPEAKER 3]So when you have been 20?

[SPEAKER 2]No, no, no, I was… Your last junior year, 18?

[SPEAKER 1]I was 17, I think. I was 17 or something, yeah, 17, 18. And yeah, we bought him and then already like 30 days after we bought him, we did our first European championship. Because my first horse at that time, he was injured. So, well, we decided to try to give it a go with Cassidy. And I remember we went to Kronberg in Germany, and we came… Close to Frankfurt, yeah?

[SPEAKER 2]Exactly.

[SPEAKER 3]At Linsenhoff’s, Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, one of the German dressage legends.

[SPEAKER 1]And the most fantastic European championships ever.

[SPEAKER 3]Amazing facility, everything is top-notch.

[SPEAKER 1]The whole event was just out of this world.

[SPEAKER 3]And at this time also home of Totilas.

[SPEAKER 1]Exactly, I remember that very clearly. So we came with no expectations and you know I’ve only had the horse for like one month, like just made the qualification like one week before at the Northic Baltic Championships and it was just like well let’s just bring him and then have fun. And I mean, I’ve been dreaming about having a European medal since 2005, where I did my first European Championships. And Cassie, he did it that year. We came home with three medals, like one for the team and two individual. So that was a really crazy start of our career together.

[SPEAKER 3]I mean, when you’re at the youth level, then you feel okay. Probably there is more potential, there’s more road to go, but it’s very uncommon that you do it with the same horse.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I think he’s the only horse in the world that has done, that has taken a medal, you know, junior young rider and senior European, the same rider. And it was, I mean, we had like four gold medals for the Yarn Rider division at the Europeans, but the jump from PSG Yarn Rider level to the big tour, that was way bigger than I could have imagined. I think we spent like close to two years to sort of teach him to do Piaf and Passage, because that was not really in his body. So at some point I remember that we were like really doubting if he was ever gonna make it to the Grand Prix. I did a few Grand Prix to 64%, like barely Piaf-ing, it was more like a little bit like unsteady halt, I’d say. So it was like at that point we decided to bring Kyra, Kirkland, into the team.

[SPEAKER 3]Also Finnish dressage legend.

[SPEAKER 1]Totally. And it was my old trainer Rune Willum, he got in touch with her and he said well could you maybe come to his yard and then it was mainly him and his partner riding but then he sort of pushed me in as well with Cassie and she gave us some fantastic tools for him to sort of find his Piaf and Passage. And then a few years later we really got the hang of it and took the big jump into the seniors division.

[SPEAKER 3]And what most people I think don’t see, most consider it a straight line from a Prix Saint-Georges level to Grand Prix. Probably it’s the biggest leap in the dressage sport from Intermedia 1 to Intermedia 2.

[SPEAKER 1]It’s crazy and I remember I did like my first international Grand Prix in 2015 in October and I came with my hopes like really high and it was the World Cup in Denmark and I thought well I’m gonna make this you know. I came as a you know double European champion from the Young Writers division and I ended up last. 64% like really like.

[SPEAKER 3]What a lesson.

[SPEAKER 1]What a lesson. And that was like ongoing for some time I’d say. It was really, it was super, super hard. Even though I could manage to do some of the Grand Prix exercises back home, it was something else, you know, taking that sort of collection, that sort of pressure with me into the ring from doing the Grand Prix. That was like, it almost felt impossible at some point.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah.

[SPEAKER 3]What kept you going?

[SPEAKER 1]I mean, the fact that my trainer, he was really, he really believed in me and Cassie, he did. And he tried his very best and, you know, bringing in Kira to the team and sort of just, he was just behind me all the time. And he really believed in the fact that he could, you know, do the jump. So we just kept on training. And then I remember in, I think it was in December 15, we went to Holland, and for the first time I remember that I felt, well, today I wrote Grand Prix. And I think we did something like 70, 71, the three star show in, where was it?

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah. Somewhere in the Netherlands.

[SPEAKER 1]Somewhere, yeah, exactly. And at that point I said to Rune, well, now the Olympics might be realistic, and I think he was like,

[SPEAKER 2]What? What are you talking about?

[SPEAKER 1]That was in 15 December. And Rio de Janeiro was in, you know, July 16. So that was sort of the beginning of the senior career. But we had a gap from 2013 where we won the second, you know, European gold medals. 14, doing no shows at all. 15, trying to do a few U25 Grand Prix’s. Riding 64, 65, you know, barely making it. And then in 16, I really felt that I started riding Grand Prix. And that Cassie, he sort of understood, ah, this is Grand Prix.

[SPEAKER 3]Do you think it has been one of the ingredients to your secret sauce together with Cassie that you have been together also for so long?

[SPEAKER 1]Of course. I mean, and also the lesson that, you know, when we bought Cassidy, Andreas Helgestrand, he said, well, this is a super, super, you know, junior young writer who’s, but he will never do the Grand Prix. And I was like, well, fine, because I’m not going to do the Grand Prix. So fine by me.

[SPEAKER 2]I’ll take him.

[SPEAKER 1]I’ll take him. I mean, I was 16 or something, turning 17 years old. So it really didn’t matter for me if he was supposed to be a Grand Prix host, because I was not supposed to write Grand Prix. So, I mean, I’m really grateful for what this journey has taught me because it has helped me so much with Bohemian, with Valmas, because so many people told me, well, Bohemian, he’s never going to be a good horse. Well, Valmas, he’s never going to be a top horse. But keeping in the back of my mind, you know, with Cassidy, that so many people told us, well, he’s never going to do Grand Prix. I sort of just stuck to my gut feeling. Well, but I like this horse. I love to ride him every single day. Same with Bohemians, same with Vamas. They felt special. And then with time, with love, with practice, with plenty of lessons, you know, sessions in the training arena, suddenly, you know, you build up this partnership. And then, of course, they also showed, like, with time, that they had quality to do the Grand Prix. And, I mean, Bahamas world champion, bohemian, plenty times European medalist. So, yeah, it really taught me that if I like the horse, if I like to take that horse out of the stall every single day, then I can make it to something special.

[SPEAKER 3]Aren’t those horses that… no one or very few people believe in or that are special, also difficult, those horses that eventually can make the difference?

[SPEAKER 1]Well, I do think so. I like when they have like a special personality. I mean, I’m the same myself. I’m also a little bit odd and different from many other people. So I sort of connect with them really well. And also with the special ones, you do have to spend more time with them to figure out what is your brain doing? Like, why are you doing that? Why are you doing that? Why do you react like that? So you get to know the tricky ones. Super super well, you know with the normal straightforward horse. It’s like well, he’s sweet. He’s nice. You don’t have to use like so much extra time Figuring out figuring out like what’s going on whereas with sort of with Cassidy. I mean he was so afraid of I big screens when he was younger, still day to day. So when I came back from that show in 15, where we ended up last, I took the telly from my apartment and put it in front of his stall, because, you know, okay, well, then we are gonna practice you standing in front of yourself riding a Grand Prix. So you have to be sort of curious and a bit innovative, I think, to work around the problems that occurs with Tricky Horses.

[SPEAKER 3]Why do you consider yourself in that context odd?

[SPEAKER 1]Because I am odd, I mean, I’m like most other top athletes, I think. You do have to be willing to sacrifice a lot, like family, friends, normal life. I’m odd because I like being around animals. I find myself more, like, comfortable, more on the same level, sort of, with animals than with people. I mean, okay, horse people, I can be around, you know, but with, I’d say normal people, I often find it tricky to, you know, relate to the way they live their life and vice versa, I guess. Because, you know, us crazy horse girls and boys, we do have a special lifestyle and we are willing to sacrifice almost everything for our horses.

[SPEAKER 3]Did you ever regret this sacrifice?


[SPEAKER 1]Because I feel the sacri-, okay, I call it sacrifices, but at the same time, look how much I experienced. I mean, I’ve had so much more experience, you know, like, I’ve seen so much of the world, I’ve travelled around, I’ve tried things that people in my age will never try in a whole, like, lifetime. So I call the sacrifices, but I’ve never doubted that it was worth it. But not that many people would be willing to sacrifice so much, I think. Okay, the top, top athletes, but it is what it takes.

[SPEAKER 3]This year at the World of CrossFit Games in Hoening, here in Denmark. It was Cassidy’s last dance, so to say.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah. Oh, yeah. Tearful.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I can still really touch what I talk about today. So, yeah, that was really special.

[SPEAKER 3]Was this also a turning point for you? Because now this horse that brought you all the way up and of course you have Bohemian and you have Vamos Amigos, which is no longer here with you, but Cassidy brought you all the way up. This must have felt like a new era is beginning now also for you.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I have to cry a little bit. I don’t know why it always brings tears to my eyes when I talk about him and all the years with him. He’s been such a big part of everything that I’ve been in the sport and he’s been somehow a big part of my identity as a writer. because he’s been my main horse for, yeah how many years is it? Like 13, 14 years. So of course it was like really, oh thank you, a point of sort of no return and it was really really hard, you know, taking the decision that I was the last dance with him but But at the same time, years back, I’ve had enough in a good way. I’ve had more and he gave me more than I could have ever dreamed of. So the last couple of shows, that was for him, not for me. Because if you see him now in the store, he’s just as fresh and crazy as he’s always been. But it’s odd now because, you know, Vamasi is not here anymore and Bohemian, okay, he’s fantastic. And he has way more quality than Cassidy, but Cassidy, he’s just Cassidy. So it was odd, you know, I was crying the whole warm-up in Herning with Cassie for his retirement. Because, oh, it’s the last dance and last time to go in. But at the same time, it was a nice… What is it called? It was a nice end of the 14 years.


[SPEAKER 1]But yeah, it was odd, definitely. But it was nice for me to have him at that World Equestrian Games. It was my first Equestrian Games, World Equestrian Games. And somehow he just gave me the security. He made me feel home, even though I was nervous, I was still feeling new in the partnership with Vamas. The decision with Vamas was taken weeks before, really close to the World Equestrian Games. So it was… It just gave me sort of a nice feeling having him on the showground, being able to write him a little bit in the morning.

[SPEAKER 2]Comfort.

[SPEAKER 1]Comfort, exactly. But yeah, it’s been weird knowing that it’s been the last time with Cassidy. But at the same time, I’m just proud and happy and it’s really happy tears. It’s just hard for me to put words on what he has actually meant for me in the sport.

[SPEAKER 3]And in front of the home crowd, in a repurposed football stadium, sold out. There couldn’t be anything better probably for The Last Dance.

[SPEAKER 1]No, exactly. And I just felt he was so, so happy. And he was just like, you know, he heard his music from the freestyle and he was just attacking it. And then the last, you know, laps I did with him in Cannes and normally I wanted to control him a little bit, you know, in the lap of honest, because he wants to run like full power. But this time I was just like, well, boy, you just run, just run for as long time as you want. And that was just a nice sort of gift to give him. Just have fun, do whatever you want.

[SPEAKER 3]How do you take on this challenge now in developing new horses on this level or onto this level?

[SPEAKER 1]Well, I think, again, talking about Vamas, I’m so grateful for the fact that Pitchley, they allowed me to… The owners from Great Britain? Yes, the family Pitsley, they have allowed me to ride him for like four or five years, so that was fantastic. And in many ways, it couldn’t have ended in a better way than one gold and two silver medals at WEC. And at the same time, of course, I was really sad that he left the yard, but it was the plan from day one that I should educate a Grand Prix horse for Annabella, and then at some point, she should take off the reins. And it was tearful and it was this and that, but at the same time, it opened my eyes to the next sort of projects in the stall. It’s a bit tricky to explain. I mean, I ride like nine horses a day, and of course I use a lot of energy on every single horse. But when you have those two, three, four top horses, you can’t put the same amount of work into all of them. I mean, okay, Vamasi gets a little bit more, what is it called, time from us. The same with Cassid, the same with Bohemian, because they need extra time, extra management, extra this and that. Whereas, you know, the seven years old coming up, okay, yeah, he’s just standing outside that bubble, but it takes time and it takes, like, more… Oh, what is it called? Like when one hose goes out, suddenly your eyes open to say, okay, who’s next in line? Okay, Vividus.

[SPEAKER 3]One door closes, another opens.

[SPEAKER 1]Exactly. That’s just what I mean. You know, sometimes it takes that one door closes for you to really open your eyes to the next standing in line. And that was actually one of the positive outcomes of Varmus leaving. That now I’ve spent so much more time with Vividus, who is the seven years old horse we have in the stall. He’s co-owned with the family Sinklarsen, who also happens to own Bohemian. So Rasmin and I and family Sinklarsen, we own him together. And he’s really, he’s just a fantastic horse. And in many ways, sort of a mix of Cassidy and Varmus. like the hotness from Cassidy and the kindness and just easygoing from Vamas. So for me, he’s really a super, super exciting horse for the future.

[SPEAKER 3]But it’s also, at least I would feel it that way, that it’s also a difficulty to stay on this world-class level. I mean, now you are world team champion, you have been at the Olympics, you have been at the WAC, Europeans and so forth. It’s also a difficulty to keep these horses or at least one horse on a world-class level. Name me five riders out there that have two or three world-class horses. You don’t find that many.

[SPEAKER 1]No, of course, and it’s like, in the beginning, okay, it was a little bit stressful, but quickly I was like, well, I love educating horses. I’ve been in such a lucky position for a handful of years now, having two, three really top, top horses on the world ranking. But now, I mean, okay, this year is probably going to be a bit more quiet, but again, I don’t do it for the big shows. I love the big shows, but I do it for the education of the horses. So at the same time, I mean, now I’m just taking my time with the youngsters, trying to pick and choose and bring up the best one we have. And I mean, okay, this year is the European year. So for me, I’ve tried the Europeans many, many, many, many, many times.

[SPEAKER 2]The coming year 2023. Oh, sorry, yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]The coming year 2023. So I’m like, I’m quite calm about it. I mean, if I’m not going to do a European this year, then I mean, I’m looking way more forward to Paris, for example.

[SPEAKER 2]The Olympics, 2024.

[SPEAKER 1]Yes. That’s sort of my next big goal. 2023 will be like a year for my young horses, I think.

[SPEAKER 2]Transition year, so to say. Transition year.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, exactly. Because I want to be careful with Bohemian. I want to spare him for the bigger shows. And I just want to spend time with the youngsters, giving them all the time I can. Maybe even try to aim for doing my first World Breeders with some of the youngsters. Because normally I always prioritize the senior championships. And that’s why I haven’t done, you know, the World Breeders at all. Because I’ve told the owners, well, I can do the qualifications, but it’s always almost on top of each other. So I want to be focused enough for the seniors.

[SPEAKER 3]So the World Championship of Young Dressage Horses held in the Netherlands and in Germany, I think, biannually.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, it’s like, it’s sort of been like in the second row all the time. Whereas this year, I might be open to, you know, prioritize that as the most important show this year. If I can, I have like some really nice, interesting young horses and next year could be the year for them to shine instead of always having the Grand Prix horses, you know, in front of everything.

[SPEAKER 3]And it’s eventually also where we make full circle.

[SPEAKER 2]We talked about partnership.

[SPEAKER 3]And it’s not eventually about the medals. It’s more about the partnership you develop over time. And if you happen to reach the highest goals… Then it’s nice.

[SPEAKER 2]Perfect.

[SPEAKER 3]But it’s not necessarily the prime aim at first.

[SPEAKER 2]No, it’s not.

[SPEAKER 3]What’s really cool about you, I think, is that you are super relatable on social media and you and your wife, Rasmin, you take people really into your daily life. Do you actively pursue this or has it just been by coincidence?

[SPEAKER 1]I mean, from day one, when I started my Instagram account, it was meant to be a source for young writers to be inspired, to find motivation, to get some sort of small training tips, maybe. Because I found that, you know, this was maybe in, I don’t know, 14, 15, and I was so annoyed that no one was ever like, opening, you know, up just a little door to show, well, this is how I’ve done. You know, you could see that Isabel, that Dusha, that so many writers, they were doing like a fantastic job out there. But how the hell did they get there? You know, as a young writer, you were like, okay, I can see that they are like 20% better than me, but how? So my whole like thought about starting an Instagram was to open up for doing small like training tips, showing people, well, this is my journey. This is the way I’ve done it. Not necessarily the way of doing it, but my way of doing it. So it was meant to inspire younger riders and throughout the years it’s like one thing is that it’s grown quite a lot but also the whole like social media world has changed tremendously. It’s so much harder posting like real training videos nowadays because the amount of hate you Get is crazy And I find that a pity because I I really want to be open and I want to show they’re not perfect snaps as well But when you show something that is not perfect when you show the process when you try to be open about normal training There’s so many haters out there You know, going crazy about the horse being like one inch behind vertical, the horse being a little bit too low in the pole, you know, it’s quite heavy actually. And I find it a pity because then what has happened to also my own Instagram is that it gets a little bit too polished to what I would have preferred.

[SPEAKER 3]Do you have an internal barrier of posting reality?

[SPEAKER 1]Exactly. And sometimes I just break those barriers and say, well, I’m just going to post a video. This video is showing a young horse, you know, schooling, piaf, pessares, 110, whatever, that are not perfect. But it takes a certain amount of courage. Is it called that, courage?

[SPEAKER 2]It’s courage, yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]To do it. Because you know that there’s going to be haters out there chasing you down, posting your video again and again and again, where the horse is not perfect. And dressage is also, you know, it is, I don’t know if I would call it political, but it is also an act. When you go into the ring, it’s an act. You have to look like everything is so controlled, like everything is just so perfect. But sometimes you do have to, like, put a little makeup on some things. And I think it’s a pity that you, at least that you don’t, that I don’t feel that I can be totally honest about, you know, showing my bad trainings as well. because I know that that would be super inspiring.

[SPEAKER 3]And it makes you human.

[SPEAKER 1]It makes me human and I know that it would, because I remember how it was back then. I had like so many tough trainings where I felt, oh, it’s so tricky, it’s so difficult.

[SPEAKER 2]And you know what?

[SPEAKER 1]It still is. But it’s so hard for me to show my follower score that, because then I know that people are going to hate me for it as well. But it’s a pity because Dresshaus is not just, you know, then it’s Piaf and Passage. It’s like years and years of training, partnership, exercises going wrong, doing it again, going wrong again, doing it again, and then suddenly it clicks when you see Walmers do Piaf and Passage. It’s like that’s the end result of years and years of hard work And I just find it so harmful to the sport that it’s so tricky to show the unpolished reality. But that’s nevertheless how it is nowadays.

[SPEAKER 3]What does this hatred do to you? Besides that you are no longer showing or you are showing less of reality, how does this affect you?

[SPEAKER 1]Well, it makes me sad, first of all, because I really try to, I mean, both me and the whole team, we do everything we can for horses every single day. We put them first, like, in every sort of situation. It’s always the horses first and the horses welfare first and we love them to bits. So when people call me like horse abuse, you know, they tell me like shitty things about how I am around my horses or that I train them in a bad way. It makes me sad. And I think that people who write those really shitty comments, they forget that it’s a real human sitting on the other side, reading those comments, taking it in. I mean, okay, through the years, I’ve sort of learned to put up a barrier, and I’m not really taking the comments in anymore, but it makes you way more like, what is it called?

[SPEAKER 2]Careful.

[SPEAKER 1]simply to protect yourself. And now when Rasmine is in it as well, we try to protect ourselves a little bit. And I think it is just a pity because we are actually some of the people that would be open for opening up the doors like 100 percent, showing the real deal. But we don’t we don’t dare to, because the hate that could follow with that could potentially be like crazy.

[SPEAKER 3]Do you think the equestrian world should have a louder voice in this discussion and stand up against this? Because eventually it’s going against the fact that horses are domesticized and to be worked under a saddle.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I know and that’s like… That’s why I find the discussion so hard, because I know that the hardcore haters, they think it’s abuse just the fact that we sit on them. So I feel that it’s a lost battle, no matter how and when and where we put it. So that’s why I think that we are very few that stand up in this discussion. Because somehow we know that it’s lost already before we open our mouth. But I think what is important is to tell the good stories. to tell that and to show that we love our horses beyond anything. We put them in front of our family, in front of our partner, in front of everyone and everything. We try to really do everything we can for our horses. But yeah, we do ride on them as well. So it’s just about…

[SPEAKER 3]And it’s also your profession. It’s not only the act of riding on the horse itself. It is also your profession. And eventually, if you theoretically were a horse abuser, you would never have any success in this world.

[SPEAKER 2]It’s impossible.

<p>[SPEAKER 1]It’s impossible. It’s impossible. And I mean, if people saw a horse like Cassidy, if he’s not, you know, If we don’t work him, if we don’t write him, if we don’t make him do his favorite tricks, you can tell that his mood is going down quite quickly. He loves working. He loves dressage. Even now, I mean, he turns 20 and the best thing he knows is to be allowed to do a long row of 110 piece. just having fun, just training, he’s like his ears full with like, from the first second. He hates when it’s just like hand walking and you know, he’s retired, yeah, but he still loves to do the job. So that’s what people, they don’t get it. Most horses in this sport, they live and breathe training, shows, doing the tricks because they love it. They are bred to do it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]And we have over a thousand years of breeding history in Europe. If you would open all the stalls here and let them free… They would stay in.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]They would stay in, they would not go out.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]No, they would stay in. Okay, they would maybe go out and look, but they would quickly find their stall again and hey, hey, hey, ring with the bell for food.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Yeah, maybe in summer on the pasture for an hour and then they come back, but that’s it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]That’s it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]But yeah, but I find it’s a very tricky discussion. And I know that we do have to develop our sport all the time. And I’m all for that, that we constantly try to improve the way we treat them, the way we maintain their life as horses as well. You know, going on the field, having lots of time like under open sky and all that. I’m all for that. But I also love riding. And I know that our horses love that as well.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]How do you assess the future of the equestrian world? I mean, we’re talking about now what people now tend to call a social license. I know there are discussions in the United States with the federations. I think among European federations, do we still have the license to be socially accepted? How do you see the future 10 years, 15 years? I mean, you are 30 now. You’re going to be for decades in the sport.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Hopefully. Hopefully.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]What do you think, where do we stand 2030, 2040 and down the road? Not only on this discussion, but beyond.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Well, no one can tell, but I do think it’s important that we stay open-minded, and that we dare to change the sport, to be open-minded, to take in like new things, you know, get along on the sort of developing of the sport, because I know that dressage and horse riding, on all terms, it’s very traditional, and we have many traditions that we want to stick to, but at the same time, we do have to develop to to be able to still have our sport, you know, in the Olympic Games, you know, and again, that we’re not having our rights to ride the horses taken away from us. So in that way, we have to develop as riders, as, you know, trainers, as people in the sport, we have to constantly develop and, you know, have the willingness to go along on this development as well.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]It’s actually, as you now say this, it reminds me this discussion a little bit about the football World Cup in Qatar. Because everyone has asked the Danish national team, the German national team, the Americans, the British national team to stand up against the fact that the World Cup has been given to Qatar. And everyone is expecting them to have a voice and to make their voice heard. Here it’s kind of similar. Now as you say this, it pretty much reminds me of this discussion also a little.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]No, but it is true. And it’s super hard for us riders, just as for the football players, to know exactly what to say. I think the most important thing is that we stay open-minded. And even though we know that there’s some crazy discussions going on, you know, for example, with horse welfare, we do have to listen and to change where we can, because otherwise our sport is going to die, I think. So I think it is important that we really try to go along, you know, on the development and see where we can change things. So it gets like more and more on the horse’s terms. Still trying to stick to some of the traditions that also makes our sport.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Who keeps you inspired? Who are your heroes in the equestrian world?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Kira, she’s a big inspiration for me.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Kira Kirkland, your trainer.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I mean she comes from like not a Horacy family at all and she’s sort of just built up this like crazy imperium of like crazy many fantastic results but that’s one thing of her person but Kira the human is just fantastic. I mean, the way she’s, she’s so curious. You know, every time she comes to my farm here, she has like a new little trick that we have to play with. Even though she’s 60 plus, she’s so curious. She’s so open-minded and she’s constantly using her brain to figure out new things of, you know, explaining the horses how to do that exercise in an easier way. And at the same time, even though she’s such a complex trainer and rider, she makes it so simple. The simplicity, it’s amazing how simple she can explain things. So if I should pick any rider in the world, any trainer, it would be Kira. Of course also naturally Susan Wittgenstein, my other trainer, she inspires me a lot as well. But she has less experience than Kira, obviously she’s 20 years younger. Those two ladies, they inspire me a lot. The way they’ve made their journey to the top sport, coming from fairly normal families, bringing up really normal horses to top sport, that is truly inspiring for me. And then I always mention Isabel Werth, because there’s one thing about her that I admire like crazy, and it’s sort of the fire in her eyes. Every time she canters around the edge, you can just tell that she wants to win. And that’s fantastic. I mean, she’s been traveling since she was so young. She’s won everything possible so many times and yet she wants to win.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]And I think what’s also interesting about Isabel and she has been in our podcast and we talked about this lengthily, how she chooses horses and it reminds me a little bit of you because it’s not the obvious top star horse that eventually wins the golden medal and it’s having the feeling in your fingertips, okay, this could be this high potential horse no one else sees.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Exactly. And that’s what you’ve seen so many times with Isabel. When you see her in a small, do you think, what is she going to use that horse for? I mean, it’s like this and that. And then suddenly one year later, 80% in Grand Prix. And you’re like, how did that?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]How is that possible?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]How is that even possible? But that’s exactly what I mean.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]You know,</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Not necessarily because Andreas doesn’t like a horse for Grand Prix or Isabel, then it might fit me. And that’s the, again, coming back to the partnership. You do have to love spending time together. You do have to love riding together every single day. You do have to love the fact that you have to figure out the horse’s brain. And sort of find out why is it doing like this or that. And I think that’s the… I hope that I have some of the curiosity that Isabel has had throughout the years. Because she must have been like really curious, really open-minded to developing the not obvious talented horses.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]And it’s also, I think it’s kind of like a puzzle, you know, putting one piece together and then it starts to make sense, right? And then everything evolves from there.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Exactly.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]You are now here in Denmark as number two and number three in the world rankings, which is also very cool to be with two horses in the top three, one of the superstars of the sport. Do you also reach into or do you have contact to people here in Denmark outside of the horse world? Is that something where you get more influence or more limelight now?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I mean, when I met Rasmin, the sort of the spotlight in Denmark outside the Husu world sort of expanded a little bit. And for me, that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s been really good for the sport that we get like more media time, more interest from normal medias. But for me, the whole spotlight thing, that’s the backside of the metal for me. Because it’s hard, you know, it’s hard being recognized by normal people. It’s hard having to do like autographs.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Are you being recognized on the streets here in Denmark?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, not like in a bad way at all, but we are recognized from normal people as well. Like more and more. Rasmin, she’s been used to that spotlight since she was small because of her family name. Her father was a really famous football player.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Brian Laudrup?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yes, and the Laudrup family, they are very famous in Denmark. Known for very good things, so it’s because people like the family. So she’s sort of been used to that sort of spotlight from the medias wanting to know what she’s up to and all that. But that was something new for me. And also with the increasing result, it’s more like heavy from the Christian world, the interest, but also from the normal medias. And that’s something new for me. I mean, I find it very positive for the sport that the interest is increasing and that we get more time in the media. But it’s hard and it takes time for you as an athlete to do interviews like today, interviews with the team, with the telly.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Did you do some training?</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Like media training or anything?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]No, I never did.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I’ve been practicing a lot, you know, throughout interviews, like looking at myself and thinking, oh, why did I say that?</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]And social media probably also helps because you have to control what you eventually say and also be on a certain level professional in front of camera.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, true. And also, yeah, again, it comes back to that. Like since day one with the medias, I’ve wanted to be as much Catherine as possible. I really want to be open mind. I really want to be like real. I want to show the real deal. And I think that’s been my goal since day one, to be as… Of course I want to be polite and nice, but that’s also how I am as a person. I try to be nice, I try to be polite, but yet showing the world what it takes behind the curtains as well.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]At the end of every podcast we have the four classic WeHorse questions.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yes.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]And they are now also waiting for you.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Oh, bring it on.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]And question number one is, do you have a motto or favorite saying?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yes, it is. I mean, I’ve actually been living from like one motto for many years and it is if you can dream it, you can do it. And I know it’s a little bit of a cliche, but actually I have been a big dreamer since I was really, really young. And I’ve happened to be super lucky to achieve many of those dreams throughout the years. So I really live from it. If you can dream it, you can do it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Then question number two. Who has been the most influential person in your personal equestrian journey?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Oh, that’s really hard to pick one. I think I have to name a few. From the early days, my family, of course, because they are the ones that have made it possible for me to even enter the Christian world. So the tremendous support from my family has meant the world. But then in the later days, I mean, of course, my wife, Rasmine, she is sort of She’s really been fantastic since the day she came into my life. She’s made everything possible here in the everyday. She supports me and she has supported me since day one. But also she has like for the first time in my life. I mean, this is equestrian Catherine. I’ve spent my whole life developing like the person Catherine within the</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And building this personality, right?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, you know, within the horse world, but not until Rasmene, she came into my life. I’ve spent time, you know, developing the real human version of Catherine, like outside the Who’s World. So I’m like really small, like Catherine is really small actually. But she’s trying to sort of make me bloom as a person as well. And open my eyes for the fact that it is possible to try to find that life balance as well. Even though she’s like, okay, cool, you want to be the world number one, but could it maybe help you to have, you know, your person, Catherine, on the side as well? And that’s just so true. And I’m really thankful for the fact that her and her family really helps me, you know, developing that side of my personality and of me, you know, at the same time as they support me on the journey to become number one.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]That is the eventual goal.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]No, it’s not the eventual goal, actually. But now I’ve been number two and three, so I guess that at some point it’s okay to dream about being the world’s number one one day.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]What do you think, what does it take to become number one in the world?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]It takes so many things. It takes courage, bloody hard work, And also a little bit of luck as well. Timing.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Timing is a thing.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Timing is a thing as well. You know, it is really. But again, it comes down to that little bit of luck as well. Of course, you have to be super, super skilled. But you know, all the writers in top five, top 10 in the world, they are super, super skilled. They are fantastic writers. They all have fantastic teams back home. But it comes down to the timing and to that little bit extra bit of luck and glitter on top.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]I mean, you still have among those in the top 10 at the moment, you’re probably the one that has the most time compared to the others. Of course, you need to have the horse, but relatively… Jessica from Bredow-Wendel, she is mid-30.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, let’s see. Question number three.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]If you could give equestrians one piece of advice, what would it be?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]The most important thing for me throughout my whole career has been my team. My main team. Without my main team, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have survived throughout the years. So I always tell young writers coming up this, that you have to build yourself a strong team. And it varies from rider to rider what a strong team is. For me, it’s been like, from an early days, my parents, my trainer, and my partner. Now it’s changed a little bit because my family is not such a big part of it anymore, but it’s my trainer, it’s my partner, and it’s, you know, maybe a manager, a go-to person, which is now Natalie for me, and Cura. Because that’s my inner circle.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]People that can also give advice, experience advice.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]They can give you the best advice that you can get. I have my partner to rely on, to fall back on. She’s my rock. And then of course my chosen family, the ones that make sure that Catherine, the person, is also doing well. under the pressure that it is to be in the position I am. But the team, build yourself a team that can help you and that you can rely on.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Actually, it’s a good piece of advice regardless if you are an Olympic athlete or just a leisure rider. It actually doesn’t matter.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]It doesn’t matter. It takes a good team around you to support you to be in this sport. You can’t do it alone. I’d say it’s impossible.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Question number four. It’s actually not a question, you need to complete the sentence. For me, horses are… My life.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]The passion of my life.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Cool.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]Catherine, I have one more topic actually here on my list, which I forgot to ask. You are now also into fashion. You have your own fashion collection.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Is that true?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, well, we call it like a merch collection, merchandise.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]It’s actually… On the verge to becoming a fashion collection.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Well, of course we want to make something that we like to wear ourselves as well. And we are quite chill, and that’s why it’s a tracksuit.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And sweatpants.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, it’s like a tracksuit, you know. Sweatpants and a hoodie and relaxed, chilled clothes that you can wear anywhere. And it’s actually because our followers, they’ve been asking us for maybe two years now, could you please just make some items so that we could support you and we could support you and Rasmine. And then we are teamed up with an agency now, with the social media thing. And they said, well, should we help you to put you in contact with someone that could produce just a little collection of merch, fashion, whatever you call it. And just a few weeks ago we produced this and we went on air like only a few days ago and it’s almost… Already sold out? Yeah, it’s crazy. And it’s just somehow that feels really odd. Because I was like, but do people really want to buy things with our names on?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]But it’s crazy.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]But the support, it’s crazy, I tell you. It feels surreal that people are giving us this sort of support. And it’s fantastic and it feels like a big hug, you know. We love you guys, we just want to support you. So that’s been really fun.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]So the second batch needs to be produced soon.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I actually talked to the company that produces the things for us yesterday and he was like, are we gonna continue, what are we doing? I was like, I don’t know, we need advices. But I think we definitely have to make a second batch or renew some of the things already now. But yeah, really, thank you guys, it’s been fantastic to feel that love.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Cool. Yeah, it has been quite a ride. Thank you so much.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]The journey so far, I must say, probably the story is not written fully yet.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Let’s hope not.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Let’s hope not.</p><p>[SPEAKER 3]And yeah, all the best. Thank you, Catherine.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Thank you for having me.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Equestrian Connection podcast by wehorse. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a rating and review, as well as share us on social media. You can find us on Instagram at wehorse underscore USA, and check out our free seven-day trial on, where you can access over 175 courses with top trainers from around the world in a variety of topics and disciplines. Until next time, be kind to yourself, your horses, and others.</p>

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