I bet the biggest news for equestrians in 2016 is Valegro’s official retirement from competition. Having won four Olympic gold medals for Britain and loads in top European and world shows with his rider, Charlotte Dujardin, the legendary gelding was decided to be withdrawn from competition at the very peak of his international dressage career.
Valegro, a KWPN foaled in the Netherlands in 2002 and shipped to Britain as a three-year-old to Carl Hester’s yard, did not look very promising at the beginning, due to his small height and over-active motion, making Hester unsuccessfully pursue his sale. In the end, Valegro was proven to be a big star, as he won the British national championships at the ages of four, five and six. He entered Dujardin’s life when he was 5 years old, planned to be competed with her as a novice and then compete with Hester in Grand Prix. But such big was the pair’s success, that they stayed together and in 2011 they began to compete in Grand Prix, beating again and again their own records. In fact, between 2011 and 2016, the pair won 52 international shows.
A horse of exceptional talent, beauty and character, Valegro has acquired quite many fans worldwide, many of whom had the chance to farewell him at an emotional ceremony at London Olympia, on 14 December 2016. Here is the FEI video of Valegro and Dujardin’s very last FEI-World-Cup-Dressage performance and final farewell:
And here is a FEI video showing the pair’s top-5 performances:
Charlotte’s touching interview on the Olympia arena demonstrated how much she cares about the horse, who, she said, owes her “absolotely nothing”. She let us know of her plans to ride Valegro at shows and tours.
This interview with Valegro’s joint owners, Anne Barrott and Roly Luard, whose own contribution to Valegro’s success should not be forgotten. They explain their experience with owning a dressage horse and say what Valegro means to them. How lucky ladies!
Hester has promised to bring to Grand Prix some high-quality youngsters soon and I hope that it’s worth the wait.
Let’s wish this cute,cute,cute horse happy times in the pasture and all the best for Charlotte!
For more information on Valegro, his farewell ceremony and his life journey with Dujerdin and Hester, you can visit:
- Carl Hester’s website (by the way, make sure you check out the sweet items on site’s shop)
- KWPN organisation website