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Dinja van Liere & Charlotte fry: The secrets to the dressage queens’ success

by line holm bode    photo kunddahl graphic & photography & fei
by line holm bode    photo kunddahl graphic & photography & fei

What does it take to get on to the World Championships podium? We spoke to World Champion Charlotte Fry and World Championship bronze medallist Dinja van Liere about this. So, here you can get closer to the two dressage queens as we try to uncover the secrets behind their success at the World Championships.


At the World Championships, held in Herning (Denmark) in August 2022, it became clear that there are some incredibly talented young female riders fighting their way to the top of the world ranking. Indeed, the podium was often filled with these riders, and we are incredibly pleased to have had the chance to have a talk with two of them. In this article, we take a closer look at the time around the World Championships with English rider Charlotte (Lottie) Fry and Dutch rider Dinja van Liere.  

These two riders - along with their amazing horses - manage to make people in the stands drop their jaws, and we are certain that they are a great inspiration to many riders across the globe. But what is the secret to their success? Well, that is what we are trying to find out here.   

Their similarities 

Already when I started to do some extra research on the two riders, I quickly noticed that there are some similarities between the two. They are both young women who have been working hard to get to where they are now. This is also evident when they both say that they spend almost all of their time on horseback. They are at the stables early in the morning and only go home again when everything is done, late in the afternoon or evening.  

A typical day

A description of their everyday life makes me realise that Lottie and Dinja’s everyday life is quite similar. Lottie says she loves being the first one out in the quiet stable in the morning, so she is typically already in the stable around 6am, quietly feeding the horses. "I almost always start riding at 7am, and I keep doing it for the rest of the day. I am very lucky to have two good grooms and a really nice girl from New Zealand who warms up the horses for me. She also rides a couple of the younger ones for me once or twice a week. So, they help me get through the day - and it is really just riding solid until we finish. Which is usually around 6pm. I probably ride about 14 horses a day on average."  


Dinja is also with the horses all day, and she says: "I typically start riding the horses in my own stable at 8am, and then I am usually done around 3pm. After that, I go out to Hermès' stable and ride him. In the evening I usually teach until 9pm, and then I go home, eat dinner, take a shower and then I am off to bed."  

So, the two riders both spend almost all day with horses or in the saddle - and it clearly shows how much work in the saddle there is behind their success.  

An early love for horses

Another similarity the two women have is that they both started their riding careers and love of horses early. Lottie had her first experiences on horses at the age of 3, riding her two white Shetland ponies. Dinja's first time in the saddle was also on a white pony called Flits, and it was Flits who made Dinja fall in love with horses and riding at the age of 6.  

This love for horses is clearly also shared by the two riders and shines through both of them. In fact, I have no doubt about this at all when I talk to them.

Dinja van Liere’sapproach to training

"I think the most important thing for me is that both rider and horse have fun. I love working with my horses and I think my horses like working with me. Creating a bond between horse and rider is a very special thing and that is what I love most about riding. My goal is to use few signals and be as harmonious as possible."


  • Rider: Dinja van Liere
  • Owner: Hengstenstation van Uytert
  • Sex: Stallion
  • Age: 10

A life with a packed calendar 

So, there is no doubt that these two women have a packed calendar. There are many things that need to fit into the calendar and many horses to train every single day. However, they were both so kind to take time out of their busy calendars to have a talk with me. When you then get the chance to talk to them, it is also very clear that they are not just relaxing on the couch. Quite the opposite. When I reach Dinja van Liere on the phone, she is in Lyon for the World Cup, but unfortunately her horse Hermès has gotten a hoof abscess and they were unable to compete as planned. Of course, she is very sad about this, but she remains positive and sounds happy on the phone.

When I catch Lottie Fry late on a Thursday afternoon, she has just finished up in the stables and completed the day's riding. It is clear from her voice that she has just spent the whole day doing what she really loves.

Both women sound very friendly and happy on the phone, and they both seem very down to earth – just like totally normal horse girls.

Getting to the World Championship podium

Although they are two normal horse girls, they are also more than that. They have worked hard to get to where they are now, and it is obviously a long journey to get all the way to the World Championships and even end up on the podium. Therefore, I had to ask them what has contributed to getting them there.

3 things that led them to the podium

When I ask Dinja about this, she addresses the journey towards the World Championships and answers quite quickly: "My horse Hermès, his owner and my trainer. You cannot achieve anything without a horse and a good owner who helps you and will let you ride and compete on the horse. And then my trainer, who always helps me, and we train together all the time."


Lottie, on the other hand, focuses on three things about the World Championships itself and answers, "All my training with Anne (ed: Anne van Olst, Lottie's trainer), the music for our freestyle, and the care of Glamourdale, which ensured that he always felt his best, which is incredibly important."

So, they are both very focused on the fact that you can only go so far alone. Getting to where they are now requires a good horse and owner, a good trainer and a lot of help with all the practical stuff that also comes with it.

The Championships were both amazing and difficult

There is no doubt that there are many emotions at play during such a World Championship. The adrenaline is pumping through your body, as are the nerves, the joy and the excitement. Therefore, I was curious to hear which moments stand out most clearly for the two riders - namely as the best moment and the toughest moment.

The best moments

When I ask the two riders about this, they both have to think about it for a moment. But then Lottie says: “The best moment was definitely the very last centre line of our freestyle. Everything had gone perfectly, the crowd were clapping and Glamourdale pretty much did everything himself - I didn't really have to do anything." Most riders can hopefully recognise the feeling you get after a fantastic training session or after a perfect round at a competition - and I can only imagine how much that feeling must be in overdrive when it is at a World Championship.

Dinja describes her very best moment as: "When we won the first medal. I was really happy and proud. But after I had ridden, Isabell Werth had to come into the arena, which I saw on the big screen. You could just see that she was fighting for a medal, and to be honest I was a bit scared when she had to get her points. But I was so happy as her score was a little bit lower than mine. I don't really get nervous when I ride myself, but when she rode, I was really nervous. She is the queen of dressage!"

The hardest moments

Lottie also recognises the nervousness that Dinja describes here, as she herself talks about her toughest moment - the waiting. "The hardest moment was after our freestyle, when we had done everything, we could do. Then we just had to wait for the other riders. Well, it is not hard as such - but it is very nerve-wracking. But when you know that you have done your best, then you will – of course - be happy no matter what happens."


For Dinja, the hardest moment was something else entirely - an unexpected situation that suddenly arose. "The hardest moment for me was the night before we were going to ride the Grand Prix. We were told that there was a new rule about the bit, and that the bit I normally ride with no longer was allowed. That was the night before the Grand Prix. So, I just thought, 'Oh no, what are we going to do?' Of course, we used a different bit and luckily there were no problems. Hermès was absolutely fine with the other bit."

Lucky charms

Several major sport stars like to carry a little good luck charm with them to the big competitions, and of course I had to know if Dinja and Lottie do that as well. When I ask Dinja about this, she starts to laugh and replies, "No, I do not. I am too scared that I would lose it and then think my luck had run out." 

Lottie, on the other hand, always carries a good luck charm with her. She says: "I always wear a certain necklace - a locket with a picture of my mother inside. I wear it to every competition." Lottie's mother is the late dressage rider, Laura Fry. Laura competed in the 1992 Olympics and won a silver medal with the British national team before going on to run a successful dressage stable.

Lottie Fry’s approach to training 

"We treat each horse individually. There is no one training method that suits everyone. I work with Anne van Olst and she helps me to figure out what each horse needs in its training. It can be completely different from one horse to another. How they respond to training and what challenges they have. I think the most important thing is to be open and just listen to the horse. Ultimately we want to reach a specific goal, but one horse may have to take a very different route to get there."


  • Rider: Lottie Fry
  • Owner: Van Olst Horses 
  • Sex: Stallion
  • Age: 11

We love to follow along 

We are so glad that we had the opportunity to have a talk with the two riders and get an insight into their incredible lives as riders at the top of the world rankings. Here at Malgré Tout, we are really looking forward to following their development and it will be exciting to see what the next few years bring them.  

If you want to follow along as well, we highly recommend following the riders on their social media accounts. Here they regularly update their followers with great pictures, behind-the-scenes videos and much more!

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