Christilot Boylen Retires from International Team Competition
By Margaret Evans
Six-time Olympian and longtime member of Canada’s dressage team, Christilot Boylen of Schomberg, Ontario, announced her retirement from international team dressage competition on July 8, 2020.
Christilot Boylen was born in 1947 in Djakarta, Indonesia, and, with her family, moved to Toronto in 1951.
According to the Eurodressage website, she bought her first horse at age 10 with savings she earned acting on the children’s TV series The Howdy Doody Show. She trained her first Olympic mount, Bonheur, and at just 17 years of age she received special permission to compete for Canada in the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Boylen went on to compete as a member of the Canadian Equestrian Team at five more Olympic Summer Games (1968, 1972, 1976, 1984, and 1992). Her best performance was in Montreal in 1976 when she placed fifth in the team event and seventh in the individual competition. At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles she finished 10th, the highest placed North American rider.
At the Pan American Games, Boylen won individual gold medals in 1971 (Cali, Columbia), 1975 (Mexico City), and 1987 (Indianapolis) competitions, making her the only athlete in the history of the Pan Am Games to achieve three individual gold medals. She also helped her team win gold at the 1971 Pan Am Games. She has been a Canadian National Dressage Champion seven times.
Christilot Boylen has been a staple of the Canadian Dressage Team for four decades. She was recently honoured with the 2019 Equestrian Canada Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo: Clix Photography
Boylen is pictured with Armagnac II at the 1972 Olympic Games. Photo: Cealy Tetley
Now 73 years old and a breast cancer survivor, Boylen continues to compete at the top levels of the sport, and is bringing her current partner, Rockylane, up the ranks to the CDI grand prix level. She competed throughout her cancer treatment, and soon after receiving her second chemotherapy treatment she won the grand prix at Devon. She was recently awarded the 2019 Equestrian Canada Lifetime Achievement Award.
Boylen has written two books on dressage and produced a video on the sport. One of her books, Canadian Entry, published in 1966, shares the story of her hard work and dedication on her journey to the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She is one of the founders of the Canadian Dressage Owners and Riders Association (CADORA).
“It’s hard to capture what Christilot means to the sport of dressage in Canada, as her impact has been so vast,” said Christine Peters, EC Senior Manager, Dressage Olympic/Paralympic Program. “Her incredible depth of knowledge and talent has been invaluable to the Canadian Dressage Team, and we have been proud and honoured to be represented by her on the world stage time and time again.
“Christilot has approached each role in her dressage career with passion, commitment, and unwavering determination. While we will miss her presence in team competition, we wish her the best with future endeavours and look forward to the next group of talented athletes she develops for Canada’s future.”
Main Photo: Christilot Henson-Boylen with Biraldo at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Photo: Clix Photography
- With files from Equestrian Canada