If I had to choose my favourite people in the horse world, it probably would be Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester. A lot of their ideas and beliefs around horsemanship are the same as mine. I love how they turn their horses out for the whole day together and how they generally keep their horses with hacks every week and food schedule. People nowadays seem to keep their horses in their boxes all day and wonder why they are so crazy when they go riding. To me that equation is very simple, luckily Carl Hester seems to think the same way. The video below shows this beautiful stable and how they keep their horses. Definitely worth a watch!
The issue when media have bought into a stallion show is that they won’t tell the truth about what really happened, so that they can stay friends with everyone.
Ever since Saturday I’ve been reading several news posts about the KWPN life of Valegro show, not one being really honest about what went down. Luckily for me, I have not paid anyone or am paid by anyone, so I can write whatever I want (such a rebellion).
Before you read further, please don’t get me wrong, seeing Valegro dance trough the arena was an amazing view, but I felt I had to walk ten miles to get there.
As I wrote yesterday, the Life of Valegro show was a part of the KWPN stallion show. The first part after the auction was a u25 Grand Prix dressage freestyle to music, thereafter the actual Valegro show would start. Unfortunately due to the auction running late the freestyle started two hours late. two hours. I mean, how do you manage to mess up the planning that badly? Even Justin Bieber aint that late.
However moving on, the Grand Prix was ridden by 4 dutch riders : Denise Nekeman, Anne Meulendijks, Jill Huijbregts and Maxime van der Vlist. I don’t know if it was because they had been warming up for too long, but in my opinion none of them truly blew my mind nor the others sitting around me. Anne and Jill definitely rode the most friendly and harmonious. Anne unfortunately got disqualified, but as I sat on the other side of the arena when it happened I don’t know why and Jill’s horse was extremely spooky due to the huge arena with a lot of noise. She explained later in her own vlog that she saw this as a training and then I totally see why she rode the way she did. It was nice to see how she continuously tried to make the happening a nice one for her horse. Denise rode her horse so tense that when she asked the horse to release the neck, it couldn’t….
After the Freestyle a 18 year old dutch dressage rider did a freestyle to music. Didn’t really see the added value of this, but it was ok to watch. After her it was finally time for the actual Valegro show to begin. It started off with 15 min of Safri Duo music before a man dressed in white started telling the story of Valegro. From when he was born until today. It quickly became quite apparent that the show was written by a non-horse-person. Certain parts where so slow and dull that people around me continuously picked up their phone to surf instead. We – for example – got treated to look at a picture of the stallion Negro for 10 min or a random school stable showing of their horses for 15 minutes. After x amount of dancers, singers and even drummers people were becoming so impatient that you could feel the frustration of the people. They didnt came for a Circus de soleil show, they came for Valegro and for about 1.5 hour he was nowhere to be found.
Because the show dragged out so extremely, people started to shout, boo-ing, and a big amount of people even started leaving. Some had to leave as it was becoming so late that those who came with public transportation had to catch the last bus while others got to annoyed by the show. When the last performer came and started singing opera you could hear the whole arena sigh and not one person clapped when it was done. Besides seeing the foals run and the showcase of different Negro offsprings, there weren’t much to scream hurray about.
But then finally, after what felt like two hours waiting at the doctors office he finally came. Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro rode a freestyle to music which really showed off his spectacular movements. I must say that seeing him on tv doesn’t compare at all to how it is seeing him in real life. However, as Carl Hester enters the arena he says “We were meant to give a masterclass, but because the show is so late we had to cancel it”. Most people’s mouth fell open. There we had sat, looking at dancers and whatnot instead of a masterclass by Carl Hester – Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. As they stood on the center line, the arena slowly became empty behind them.
Most of the media have written about how amazing Valegro was. And yes, he truly was amazing. However, they’ve forgotten to mention how poorly put together the show was. Some of the music was stolen directly from youtube. Which in my opinion is extremely unprofessional. I truly felt Valegro deserved more. The evening ended for me seeing Valegro walk out the door with a very agitated Allan Davis by his side, probably thinking the horse had been warmed up for too long.
I know I’ll probably be called a whiner for putting up this post, but the media is not portraying the full truth about this show. There were times I could only laugh at what was happening while people around me were getting angrier and angrier. Maybe its because I’ve been to so many shows that I expect more then the regular person. I just think that when you plan a show like this for months, being on time and use of proper music is the least you can do for the people. People don’t want 5 min of Valegro in a 1.5 hour show. They want more.
While the eventing horses all seemed pretty easy to handle and went through the vet-check gracefully, some of the dressage horses seemed to hot to handle:
There is no Norwegian rider, so guess Patrik Kittel will have to be my man. Looking at this photo I’m sure he will win… Haha
Most of them are also wearing normal sporting clothes compared to the eventers who most of them looked super fancy. However the Netherlands knows what’s up:
Edward Gal – Glock’s Voice
Adelinde Corneliussen – Parzival
Lastly we got the Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin – Valegro from 2012 together with her instructor Carl Hester and Nip tuck.
As I like the riding style of Charlotte Dujardin best of all of the above my bet is on her.
Carl Hester is by far one of my favorite dressage riders. His way of keeping his horses and riding style is definitely one I’d like to follow for the future. I found these 15 pearls of wisdom on the site of horse and hound. Love the fact that he bought Valegro for 4000 pounds. The amount that horse is worth today is insane. Anyhow, here are the 15 wisdoms:
1. He buys two horses per year on average — most of these are two and a half year olds.
2. He purchased Valegro as a youngster for £4,000. His bargain price tag was due to the fact he was still entire and not showing many signs of being a future superstar. As soon as Carl purchased him, he had Valegro gelded which improved him dramatically.
3. All of Carl’s young horses live out in the field 24/7.
4. When Carl is looking to buy a youngster he says: “They need to have a good walk and canter as these paces are difficult to markedly improve. We can work with the trot. I also look for expression in its raw form to utilise later in life for grand prix movements. They must be naturally motivated and want to work.”
5. Carl’s youngsters are ridden for no more than 20-30 minutes per day.
6. Carl says a horse with a really good walk is hard to find.
7. Carl doesn’t necessarily want a horse who has a quiet, easy temperament. “I’m not looking for a police horse!” he says.
8. Transitions within your schooling session are important to keep things varied and interesting.
9. Valegro was nine years old before he could show elasticity and suspension in half-pass.
10. Grand prix horses need to be good at both sitting and pushing in their work: “It is very rare to find a horse who is good at both,” says Carl.
11. “Charlotte Dujardin is very good at riding trot,” says Carl. “She improves the trot of every horse she rides,” he admits.
12. Carl’s yard contains 18 horses who are looked after by five full-time members of staff. “I don’t make a profit from the yard!” he confesses. “But this means that there is fantastic attention to detail in everything we do.”
13. “The one way to keep a horse sound is to keep it moving,” says Carl. His top horses get out of their stables three to four times per day. This usually consists of spending time on the horsewalker, being schooled, spending time in the field, going for a hack or being lunged.
14. Carl’s top horses are warmed up for 30-35 minutes for each schooling session. They then go for a nice walk down the road to warm down after the sessions.
15. “If you want to improve your core strength, ride without stirrups,” says Carl.