British rider Carl Hester and Uthopia perform their last freestyle to Tom Jones at the World Dressage Masters at Hickstead earlier this summer. Sadly the fuddy-duddies complained, and now the pair are accompanied by something a wee bit more classical.
Carl and Uthopia just led a British team to gold at the European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, and took an individual silver to boot. The winning team consisted of Carl, his 26-year-old protégée Charlotte Dujardin (on a nine-year old called Valegro who was competing in only his sixth Grand Prix), Emile Faurie (who runs the brilliant Emile Faurie Foundation which helps kids from disadvantaged homes to learn to ride) and Laura Bechtolsheimer, who took a silver at Kentucky in 2010. The chairperson of British Dressage, Jennie Loriston-Clarke, was delighted, writing in Horse and Hound:
“The judges are excited about how Charlotte and Carl Hester are riding. They are so classical, nothing is forced, everything looks easy – their horses are soft and happy.”
I’m no dressage judge (heaven forbid), but I love Uthopia’s bounce. I love Carl Hester’s training routine even more. His horses get regular turn-out (hilarious little shot here of one of them hooning about in the field) and are even hacked out two days a week. Maybe I’m just too British, but this appeals to me a lot more than the picture I got of Totilas’ life from a recent feature: no turn-out in case he hurt himself, and a stable at the far end of a windowless barn. His carers said he was very possessive about his solarium. In his custom-made shoes, wouldn’t you be?