Charlotte Merle-Smith

Charlotte Merle-Smith

Advisory Board Member

Charlotte started riding when she was just a mere seven years old and obtained her first pony a year later. She learned about responsibility from the start, and spent most of her time at the barn learning about all aspects of the horse world. After college, she declared herself as a professional in the eventing world. On October 15, 2007 she was unfortunately involved in a traumatic ATV accident that left her in a coma for a week and a wheelchair dependent paraplegic. The accident did shake her up, but did not keep Charlotte out of the saddle for long. No matter what, she has remained true to her passion and not let anything get in her way as her list of accomplishments in riding continue to grow.

Photograph © Lindsay Yosay McCall 2011

December 7th, 1981

Current Residence:
South Burlington, Vermont

Home Town:
Monkton, Vermont

Top Accomplishments:
Bit of Britain Young Rider Scholarship recipient, 2002 Individual and Team Gold Medalist in the CCI* Level at the NA Young Rider Championships, 2002 United States Eventing Association Intermediate Adult Amateur Rider of the Year, 2006 Worth the Trust Young Adult Scholarship recipient, Longlisted to the 2012 Paralympic Team

Favorite Draper Therapies Products:
Saddle Pads and Nap Blanket

Role Model:
Jan Byyny. I worked for her during for a span of time until my accident in October 2007. She has had nothing handed to her and has worked for everything she has. I learned so much about horses and about life from her. She doesn’t complain about what she doesn’t have, she just keeps going for more because that is her life and that is how I want to live my life. Yeah, I am paralyzed and that stinks but, I have an amazing husband and great horse so, I’m going for it! I worked for her when she did her first four-star three-day event, so I’ve seen her make herself into who she is now, against the odds. That is what I want to do and I have her leading the way.

Goal in Life:
My goal in life has always been to ride on the US Equestrian Team. I was not going to let anything, even getting paralyzed, get in my way.

Anything Else You’d Like to Share:
I always felt like Ben and I were supposed to do something great together. We had such incredible success when I was young, but Ben’s eventing career ended prematurely due to injury. At age 20, I have pulled Ben out of retirement for the third time to be my Para partner. He will be the first to admit that he isn’t the fanciest warmblood out there with long, floaty steps but he will never spook and he is a very good mudder! This is my first year as a Para rider and “Saint Ben” is absolutely perfect. He has an incredible presence in the ring and metronome paces and that makes it easier for me to be more accurate in my tests, which actually holds a lot of weight in the Para tests. I am thankful to be able to try and fulfill my lifelong riding goal with Ben as my partner.