How wonderful it is to see so many Olympic and Paralympic riders recognized in the New Year’s honours list. Each and every one absolutely deserves this accolade, and we salute Sir Lee Pearson, who has finally been knighted after winning so many medals — including 11 Paralympic golds — that his treasure chest must be overflowing.
His team-mates Anne Dunham and Sophie Christiansen are also recognized for their outstanding services to equestrianism, with Anne Dunham now an OBE and Sophie Christiansen also stepped up a rung on the ladder to CBE.
Charlotte Dujardin and Nick Skelton are now Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) after their outstanding efforts in Rio to secure individual golds, with both of them being upgraded from their London 2012 OBEs.
One name missing
But scanning this list — all 124 pages of the stuff — there seems to be a name missing. Where is Carl Hester’s knighthood? Yes he has an MBE from London 2012, but I think the horse world was hoping (and expecting?) that he’d be recognized for his incomparable input into the Rio 2016 results.
Who else has done more to put equestrianism on the map? He trained the gold medal-winning rider, he owns the gold medal winning horse, he trains all of his team members and — as if that wasn’t already enough — he rode on the team, too. And the team won silver. Has anyone ever done that before? And with such good grace, perpetual positivity and unrelenting understanding of the needs of the media and public? I don’t think so.
I suspect that if the researchers and decision-makers had looked a bit more closely at Carl’s 2016 achievements, we would now be addressing him as Sir Carl.
His omission from the list is a bit of a slap in the face given how much he’s done to raise the profile of dressage into the national consciousness and his tireless work to spread the word of kind training and thoughtful horsemanship.
How about we give him a title of our own? King Carl? Or perhaps Hero Hester? Any better suggestions, answers on a postcard…
What do the letters mean?
1. Knighthood: The recipients of this title become a Sir or a Dame. This is the highest honour possible.
2. Order of the British Empire. This is split into three ranks, with CBE being the highest civilian accolade of the three.
A. Commander (CBE)
B. Officer (OBE)
C. Member (MBE)