The full team of British dressage horses at the top of their game – all the contenders are a pure joy to watch, but your favourite has been crowned
The winner of the Stretch & Flex by Equilibrium Dressage Horse of the Year 2023 is Glamourdale
12yo stallion, Lord Leatherdale x Negro
Rider: Lottie Fry
Owners: Van Olst Horses
Breeder: Joop Rodenburg
You can’t fail to notice when Glamourdale is in an arena – loud gasps can be heard from any crowd when Lottie Fry unleashes this powerful stallion’s extraordinary extended canter. World champions in 2022, “Glammy” and Lottie added another gold medal to their collection this year as they helped Britain win team gold at the European Dressage Championships. Later that week, they delighted dressage fans both near and far with their mesmerising freestyle performance. It didn’t quite clinch another gold, but a personal best score of 92.38% earned them individual silver.
“When the music starts, Glammy knows what to do and I feel as though I can just sit there and enjoy it,” Lottie said of her freestyle. “I had the ride of my life. Glammy loves the crowd clapping him – it reminds him that there are lots of people watching him and he finds it so cool.”
The other British team horses who made the shortlist for the Stretch & Flex by Equilibrium Dressage Horse of the Year 2023 are:
10yo gelding, Everdale x Vivaldi
Rider: Charlotte Dujardin
Owners: Carl Hester and Coral Ingham
Breeder: Tineke Huizing
At the age of 10, Imhotep has achieved more than most top horses manage in a lifetime. A member of the world silver medal-winning British team in 2022, he came of age at the Europeans this summer, producing Britain’s best grand prix score to secure an euphoric team gold.
“Pete” hasn’t always been a superstar – “I have never in my entire life seen a horse buck like he could,” says Charlotte Dujardin. But this pair’s partnership has brought out his vast talent and Charlotte loves Pete’s endless energy and willingness to perform. “He is unbelievably springy and powerful. He has a full engine and wants to go all the time,” she says.
They came home with two individual bronze medals from the Europeans this year, and Pete’s freestyle mark of 91.4% is the highest of Charlotte’s record since her Valegro days. What could he do with another year of experience behind him?
13yo stallion, Bordeaux x Rhodium
Rider: Carl Hester
Owners: Fiona, Penny and Mette Bigwood, Anders Dahl and Carl Hester
Breeder: M Gerritsen
Fame was undoubtedly one of the equine heroes of summer 2023. Under Carl Hester, his rider for mere months, this tall, elegant stallion held his nerve in the atmospheric European Championships arena, producing his best-ever performances at just the
right moment to help Britain to gold at his very first major championship.
Carl is effusive about the love he has for Fame, and any horse Carl holds in such high regard is without doubt very special indeed. “Occasionally in your life, you get a horse who you feel just fits you, and Fame fits my personality and my physique. His only problem is he is an overachiever – the more he does, the hotter he can get,” says Carl. “There’s never a day when you wouldn’t want to get up and ride him. His enthusiasm makes him a dream horse.”
17yo mare, Trento B x Royal Dance
Rider: Gareth Hughes
Owners: Gareth, Rebecca and Ruby Hughes, and Julia Hornig
Breeder: Gebr van der Steen
This delightful mare has become a British team stalwart under the skilful riding of Gareth Hughes, and she appears to be getting even better with age. Having been the best-performing British horse at the 2019 Europeans, Briolinca finished fifth individually at the World Championships in 2022, and this year she finally brought home the gold medal she and Gareth so deserved. They were the perfect pathfinders for Britain at the European Championships, garnering much praise and admiration for their harmony, poise and Briolinca’s total trust in Gareth.
“In our sport, there are two things that make a horse good,” says Gareth. “The first is talent, and Briolinca is talented in the movements where there are the most marks, like piaffe and passage. The second is their heart and brain, so when it gets tough, they try harder. Briolinca will always battle for me and try really hard, even if she’s nervous or scared.”
Previous Horse of the Year Award winners
Previous winners of the Horse of the Year Award across all equestrian disciplines include:
- 2022: Vanir Kamira, the much-loved veteran mare, who added Burghley to her previous Badminton win
- 2021: the world’s best showjumper and Olympic champion Explosion W, ride of Ben Maher
- 2020: the legendary Valegro was crowned the horse of the decade (2011-2020) by H&H readers
- 2019: Piggy French’s ride Vanir Kamira may be “a pain in the arse 352 days a year”, but this true five-star horse “comes into her own at Badminton and Burghley”
- 2018: Arctic Soul, the former racehorse turned elite eventer, ridden by Gemma Tattersall
- 2017: Nip Tuck, Carl Hester’s outstanding equine partner
- 2016: Valegro, the elite dressage star and world record breaker, ridden by Charlotte Dujardin
About the Horse & Hound Awards 2023
The Horse & Hound Awards returned for the eighth year in a row, running again in partnership with NAF.
As ever, the H&H Awards winners were nominated and voted for by you. We recognised both the big names who have made 2023 special and the unsung heroes who make it possible for all of us to enjoy equestrian sport and our horses, at whatever level.
This year, we hosted a glittering ceremony at Dallas Burston Polo Club in Warwickshire where some 300 people, including Olympic and Paralympic superstars, enjoyed a glamorous evening of champagne, winner reveals, Oscar-style speeches and dancing.