Wellington.Gold Medal Olympian, Carl Hester, says his secret to winning is all about keeping his horses happy. This is why he has been named as a Premier Equestrian during Week 5 of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI (AGDF).
“I find it totally normal to keep horses in a way that they’re happy,” says Hester, “They’re turned out a lot, we hack a lot, and we only school four days a week at home.” He adds, “We’re seeing this more and more with Dressage horses having a chance to have a break and stretch their legs and go out to roll and have fun.” Hester continues, “It’s a sport and it’s tough and they go through a lot of training, so it’s lovely to know that they have some down time as well. A horse, of course, wants to be a horse!” he smiles.
It’s Hester’s exemplary character that Premier Equestrian – an industry leader in manufacturing world-class footing, dressage arenas and accessories, values and wishes to recognize through the Premier Equestrian Award. As a part of being named a Premier Equestrian, Hester was presented with a striking tricolor ribbon and engraved Premier Equestrian Award commemorative plaque during the AGDF in Wellington, Florida. “I’m flattered for the award,” Hester smiles, “Thank you!”
Hester was raised in the UK on the tiny Channel island of Sark. The island has no cars, and so horses are very much part of lifestyle. At 19 Hester had no ambition or aspirations, but with no jobs on Sark and winter coming, he decided to apply for a job with horses on the mainland. Through an advertisement in Horse and Hound, he arrived at the Fortune Centre in Hampshire, where adults with learning and physical disabilities are given a sense of freedom and achievement through riding. It was there Hester had his first opportunity to compete and it was on the Fortune Centre’s skewbald mare, Jolly Dolly, that Hester won the 1985 Young Dressage Rider Championship.
Hester’s career took the most dramatic turn when Dr Bechtolsheimer approached him to join his yard as a rider. “I was totally overawed at the interview; I had never seen a yard like it or horses of this caliber. When Dr B asked me how much I would want, I said nothing! To ride the horses would be enough!” he continues, “I remember Dr B smiling and saying how does £XX a week and a cottage sound. I thought all my birthdays had come at once!”
This part of Hester’s career is well documented but it is sufficient to say that he feels a lasting fondness and debt to Dr and Mrs B who literally gave him the chance of a lifetime.” I rode and trained with Dr B for three and a half years and in 1990 went to the World Championships on Rubelit von Unkenriff, the European Championships in 1991 and in 1992 the Barcelona Olympics on Georgioni. I was the youngest British rider to ever compete in an Olympic Games. It was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me, and a period that changed the course of my life.” From there, Hester went on to win the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics and a silver medal from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and he continues to be a shining star on the Great Britain Team.
Today, Hester considers himself fortunate for the opportunity to come to the US each year to help and train with his long-time friend, Katherine Bateson during the winter season in Wellington. Back in the UK, he and his team are also training for the European Championships coming up this year in Rotterdam. „This will be quite fun for us,” Hester explains, “because it was last time in Rotterdam, in 2011, when the GB Team won our first gold medal,” he continues, “We’re really looking forward to going back this year and seeing what we can do. Holland is a great place to have the European Championships, and Rotterdam is exciting,” he adds. Hester goes on to say that they also have the Olympics in mind for next year, and he’s looking forward to what the future holds. “We make a gold medal team, and now we’re getting gold medal facilities, and great shows” he says about life in the UK, “So, it’s a wonderful place to start producing great horses for the future!”
For more information visit www.PremierEquestrian.com.