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Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin: how the dressage duo work together

Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin are Britain’s most successful dressage riders. Five-time Olympian Carl has mentored Charlotte throughout her career to date and the pair are both based at Carl’s yard near Newent in Gloucestershire, where their relationship sees them work and train alongside each other.

So as we look at how their partnership works, let’s get one of the most commonly searched questions about Carl and Charlotte out of the way first…

Are Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin married?

No, Carl and Charlotte’s relationship is solely a professional working one – they are not, and have never been, a couple. Carl has been in a relationship with Ben Neal for several years, while Charlotte was formerly engaged to Dean Golding; the couple split in 2019.

How did Charlotte start working with Carl?

After she left school at the age of 16, Charlotte worked for top dressage rider and trainer Judy Harvey. In early 2007, at Judy’s suggestion, Charlotte arrived at Carl’s yard for some lessons, and he asked her to stay on for 10 days to cover for a staff member who was on leave. She ended up never leaving, revealing how the partnership came about almost by accident: “There was no letter, no sit-down formal meeting, no discussion of pay — to this day Carl has never paid me a wage.”

Does Charlotte Dujardin own Valegro?

No, Carl Hester owns Valegro with Rowena Luard and Anne Barrott. Carl gave Charlotte the ride on the then five-year-old Valegro in 2007, and trained the pair all the way up to grand prix level over the following years.

Carl and Charlotte competed alongside one another on the British team at the European Championships in 2009, riding Uthopia and Valegro respectively, winning team silver. They went on to win European gold in 2011 and Olympic gold at London 2012, where Charlotte and Valegro became Olympic champions.

Valegro was retired from competition in late 2016 after retaining his Olympic title at Rio earlier in the year. However, Charlotte and Carl have continued to work and be based together, bringing on many exciting upcoming horses, including their bronze medal-winning rides at the World Equestrian Games in 2018: Carl’s ride Hawtins Delicato and Charlotte’s ride Mount St John Freestyle.

Who owns Carl Hester’s Tokyo hopeful En Vogue?

Charlotte Dujardin owns En Vogue. In early 2020, Charlotte handed Carl the ride on her own Jazz gelding, who is now one of Carl’s top prospects for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Carl says: “Charlotte has paid me back for giving her Valegro.”

What is Charlotte Dujardin’s nickname for Carl Hester?

Carl has been my biggest supporter; not only has he been a mentor for me, he’s my trainer, my coach at a competition, and he’s everyone’s rock,” says Charlotte, who has affectionately nicknamed Carl “Grandad”.

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