Interview with Cornelia Dorr, Rising Eventer
Cornelia Dorr is a rising star in the eventing world. At 19 years old, she has a strong work ethic and a passion for her horses.
I had the pleasure of attending and photographing this year’s Jersey Fresh International at the Horse Park of New Jersey. Very quickly, Cornelia stood out as a young rider. On Day 1 she won first place in dressage over veteran riders from around the world.
When asked for an interview for my blog, she graciously accepted and said she was already familiar with it! Read on to find out more about this promising equestrian.
Getting to Know Cornelia Dorr
Q: What does a typical day in your life look like?
A: I wake up at 6AM every morning, 6 days a week, and head off to work by 6:30. I work full time for Sharon White and have been for about a year now consistently. We get morning barn chores done and usually start riding around 8:30. There are 40 horses at the farm so between all 5 of us who work for her, we each have around 5 to 6 horses to ride a day. We ride until 3pm when we start feeding dinner and turning horses around. Then of course we do stalls, there are 24 on the property, and after that is done, usually around 5:30 we finish up cleaning tack and reorganizing Sharon’s tack room.
Q: You have two horses, Sir Patico MH “Hugo” and Louis M. What has each horse taught you?
A: Hugo has taught me how to love and care for someone selflessly. He has shown me my weaknesses and shed light on my strengths. He has raised me as a competitor and as a person.
Louis M has and continues every day to make me a more accurate and correct rider. I must ask for things clearly and properly and that has made me ten times a better rider in just a short year and a half of owning him.
Q: You’ve had Hugo a long time, about 6 years. Would you say that you have a special bond?
Photo credit: Cornelia Dorr, Instagram.
A: Hugo (Sir Patico) has taught me more than I could ever put into words. For 6 almost 7 years he has been there in every part of my life. When I went off to boarding school, he came along and while I tried to find my place in high school he was my consistent friend. No one knew what he could do competition-wise and I bought him as a fairly unbroken 5 year old. We did my first Novice together and soon enough my first Training level. Everyone said he wouldn’t be an upper level horse, but for me, he is whatever I need. He does not find 2* hard and I am so excited to see how far we will go together. I can’t explain the relationship I have with him, but he is my horse of a lifetime and I will never let him go. I had liver failure in 2015 while I was at boarding school and didn’t know for weeks. I thought I had a really bad cold. Looking back Hugo knew I was sick and the tenderness he had during that time was so special.
Q: We all know horses have individual personalities. What is your favorite trait of each horse?
A: Louis is the biggest goofball! During ceremonies at NAJYRC he turned around and picked up a potted plant from the podium and just stood there with it in his mouth while my mom tried to pry it from his mouth!
Hugo’s endless love and desire to please is what I love most.
Q: Which eventing phase is your favorite? Dressage, Showjumping, or Cross Country? Why?
A: Cross Country is my favorite because I love the adrenaline. There is something about being out there alone with your horse galloping and jumping that just makes me smile.
Q: Many riders are quite superstitious. Do you do anything special to prepare for competition?
A: I do not! I give my horse a quiet little pep-talk “Lets go do this!” but, I really just take a quiet moment alone and think about what I need to go do.
Q: You mention in an interview with Eventing Nation that Dressage was your weaker phase. Yet at Jersey Fresh CCI2* in May 2017 you won first place on Louis M. beating out veteran and Olympic Medalist Boyd Martin. How did that make you feel?
A: Louis’ dressage is his strongest phase, so its amazing to have a horse that can show you how it’s done. He doesn’t do it on his own that for sure, but when I get it right, I do everything I can to replicate that feeling he gives me on every horse I sit on. Winning the dressage was a nice little hit that maybe I am starting to make sense of this whole dressage thing.
Q: Do you ever lose motivation during training? If so, what helps to get it back?
A: I do. What helps me get it back is to go ride Hugo. He always reminds me why I love this sport.
Q: You and your horses are on a strict training program. You may know I am an equine sports massage therapist. What wellness program do you incorporate to keep your horses in top shape?
A: We have two amazing bodywork people that come out. Eva Peterson to massage the boys after a long drive to a competition or cross country. Dr. Elizabeth Paternotte comes every two weeks and does chiropractic work on them. On top of these wonderful people, we have massage/magnetic blankets, and back pads, as well as icing after intense work.
Q: What do you do to relax and have fun with your horses?
A: I love to go on long walks with them, I find it very relaxing and fun every time I ride them!
Q: What is the equestrian product you cannot live without- for horse or rider?
A: I cannot live without Equine Couture. Their riding pants are the only ones that I have found that really fit me!
Q: Are you an ambassador for any equestrian brands?
A: I am currently supported by Top Rail Tack, but hoping to find some additional ones soon!
Q: What are your goals for the next year?
A: My goals are to keep on keep on and learn as much as I can from Sharon as I can! Of course I have competition goals, for example move up to Advanced, but that is all day by day.
Q: You are 19 years old and competing professionally against top-level equestrians. What do you want to say to all the people out there who who underestimate you?
A: That I know how to be a competitor and I am hungry for it.
Q: Is there anything that you would like equestrians to know about you or your horses?
A: We love what we do!
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Cornelia. I loved learning about her relationship with her horses and more about what makes her tick as an equestrian. Keep an eye out for this ambitious young rider- she’s got passion and drive! I have a feeling many more sponsors will be seeking her out soon.
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Great interview! I so enjoyed learnings about Cornelia and her amazing career already at just 19!
Thanks! Definitely follow her on Instagram. She’s featured often in Eventing Nation as well. I saw her ride her heart out at Jersey Fresh in May. She lost her seat through the water and galloping uphill regain her balance to take a jump without stirrups. Now that was some great riding.
Glad you enjoyed the interview!
Lola The Rescued Cat
What a great interview. I enjoy getting a peak into a world that I know nothing about. I especially love learning about the bond between people and their animals.
Thank you so much! It is really fun to watch Cornelia ride and her love and passion for horses is obvious.
Tenacious Little Terrier
What does being a very technical horse mean? Her bond with her horses really shines through. I found it interesting how horses can tell when people are sick too!
Horses are extremely sensitive and empathetic animals, which never ceases to amaze me. Dressage is an extremely hard and technical discipline, meaning it is very precise and the horses must respond to the most subtle cues- especially at the higher levels.
Excellent interview! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this amazing equestrian and her two horses. The bond is so special – some parts here bring me back to my equestrian days. My father, a cowboy in his youth, taught me to ride initially, then I worked for years and trained at a horse farm. My horses were my very best friends and carried me through some rough times, including the death of my father at age 14. They taught me so much…my go-to guy was Sam, so I totally understand Cornelia’s bond with Hugo. I wish her much happiness on her trails and look forward to hearing more about her in the future!
So glad you enjoyed the interview. Growing up with horses is an amazing experience and something I am so grateful to provide for my own children. Sam sounds like an amazing horse.
I am loving reading your blog! Getting to see into a different world is such a treat. I am impressed with how accomplished Cornelia Dorr is at 19. Her bond with both horses is apparent, but when she referred to Hugo as the horse of her lifetime, I nodded enthusiastically. A completely relatable sentiment for any animal owner/enthusiast.
Thank you so much! I’m glad to provide a window into the equestrian world. She is young and ambitious. Such an amazing rider at 19 that I know she has a very bright future ahead.
Great interview and there are so many questions in my head, and admiration in my heart! Louis looks like a very well trained horse – holy smokes the head tilt is stellar! I have a secret wish to learn dressage – not be great at it or anything, but just to learn it some… It is so impressive to see dressage competitions. One last question: how in the world does one do chiropractic work on a horse (is there a video?)?
Dressage is one of my favorite disciplines to watch, it is so elegant and precise! Louis M has a beautiful frame and I admit I noticed him before I noticed her. He’s just that kind of horse. Only veterinarians may perform chiropractic work on horses and most horses do very well with it. I work alongside a few of them in my massage practice, and am happy to note we now have an equine acupuncturist on staff as well.
This is a thrilling interview. What a hard working and gifted young woman. I need to follow her on IG and keep up with this talented rider!
You should! She has a new filly that she is training from the ground up and she is documenting it on IG.
Such beautiful horses! I bet it made you feel good that she knew of your blog. I love watching horses. I sit on the back porch at my sister’s farm and can watch the horses all day.
It never gets old watching horses, sometimes I go and just sit on the hill and watch as well. And yes, holy moly I was incredibly proud that she had not only heard of my blog, but visited it!
What a fun interview to share with us, thank you so much. Strong work ethic and a passion are a winner quality ingredients..
Glad you enjoyed it!
Amy Shojai, CABC
What a wonderful job, to ride horses and take care of them all day. Loved the story about holding the plant in his mouth, LOL! He probably loved the laughter, what a comedian!
I love when horses get silly. They make me laugh every day!
When I read things like this, I am reminded of the incredible abilities we all have if we just put our heart and our mind to it. This was a great interview with a very talented young woman. The part about Hugo and her liver failure was particularly touching. What an amazing horse! You will have to follow her and maybe do another interview down the road. With such a competitive spirit, there’s no telling where she will be in 5 years!
She’s definitely going places, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to re-interview her a few years down the road.
SOOO don’t want to be mean, but I think this girls way of riding cross country is a serious fall and serious injury to horse and rider, or even DEATH, waiting to happen…. it scares me.