Longtime Canadian dressage team member and six-time Olympian Christilot Boylen has retired from international team competition at the age of 73.
Boylen, of Schomberg, Ontario, was the youngest ever Olympic dressage competitor during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when she was aged 17.
Christilot Boylen was born in Djakarta, Indonesia. Her mother was renowned Javanese-born Canadian dancer Willy Blok, and her father was an Australian soldier. The family moved to Toronto in 1951, and Christilot bought her first horse in 1957 at the age of 10 with the profits from her role as a child actress on The Howdie Doodie Show. Just seven years later, she was at the Olympics.
Boylen went on to compete at five more Olympic Games (1968, 1972, 1976, 1984 and 1992), finishing in the top 10 seven times in team competition and three times as an individual. She also saw incredible success at the Pan American Games, earning individual gold medals in 1971, 1975 and 1985.
Boylen also contributed to Canada’s success in the 2013 Dressage Nations Cup, leading Team Canada I to the bronze medal and securing individual gold.
Boylen continues to compete at the top levels of the sport, most recently bringing her current partner, Rockylane, up the ranks to the CDI grand prix level. A breast cancer survivor, she continued to compete throughout her treatment, winning the grand prix at Devon shortly after her second round of chemotherapy.
Boylen’s career has been equally impactful outside her role of athlete. She is an EC certified High Performance 1 Dressage Coach, founder of the Canadian Amateur Dressage Owners Association (CADORA) and is the author of Canadian Entry, the story of her Tokyo Olympic journey that she wrote in 1966.
In recognition of her numerous contributions to Canadian dressage, Boylen was recently awarded the 2019 EC Lifetime Achievement Award.
Equestrian Canada’s Dressage Olympic/Paralympic Program Senior Manager Christine Peters said Boylen’s impact had been so vast that it was hard to capture what she means to the sport of dressage in Canada.
“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,” Peters said.
“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.”