His competitive dressage career may be at an end – but Valegro is to take on a new discipline, H&H can reveal.
The 15-year-old gelding has been practising his skinnies, steps and going through water, in preparation for a switch to eventing.
Carl Hester told H&H the idea came about “almost by accident”.
“We were hacking out through the woods one day and decided to pop him over a couple of logs, as they were there,” he said.
“He jumped them beautifully and when we pulled up, Charlotte and I looked at each other and realised we were thinking the same thing. The only question was, who was going to ride him?”
While this question has not been settled yet, Carl said he and Charlotte may share the competing between them, or it may be they pass him to a professional eventer.
The aim is for the dressage superstar to start at BE90 in the second half of this season, moving on to BE100 by October.
“And then we’ll think about aiming him at some novice classes next year,” Carl added.
“Obviously the dressage won’t be a problem! But we’re working on the other phases; he’s been out cross-country schooling a few times and competed unaffiliated showjumping, under a different name [Flair Loop] as we don’t want to attract too much attention.”
Valegro has apparently taken to the jumping with panache, popping round 1m and 1.10 clear, and coming home with a few rosettes.
Carl said he and Charlotte “can’t wait” to get him competing again.
Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin, Alan Davies, Natasha Baker…
“This horse owes us nothing and has achieved everything there is to achieve in dressage,” Carl said. “But he loves to work and has been enjoying the jumping so much, we thought it would be a shame not to let him show off to the crowds again.
“We won’t be aiming for Badminton, not straight away anyway but who knows what he might achieve!”