He may be into his third year of retirement after the glittering dressage career he shared with Charlotte Dujardin, but the great Valegro is still proving to have a huge impact on the dressage world and beyond…
1. He’s met The Queen
It’s an honour only extended to a privileged few but Valegro is one of them, having had the opportunity to meet the Queen at this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show.
“Valegro managed to make it very emotional as he always does, especially the way he looked at her and just didn’t move,” Carl said after the meeting.
2. He’s helping the next generation of top riders
Riding the mighty Valegro tops the wish list of almost every rider out there, and dreams came true for 11-year-old Ruby Hughes in December last year. Ruby, the daughter of international riders Gareth and Rebecca Hughes, received a lesson from ‘Uncle Carl’ on Valegro himself and showed off her talent as she put the Negro gelding through his paces.
3. He is due to be immortalised in bronze
Next year, a life size statue of Valegro himself will be unveiled in Newent town centre, near Carl Hester’s yard. In the meantime, 12 macquettes — 12-inch replicas of the finished statue — have been created of Valegro in mid-piaffe, which are now on sale. Find out exactly how Gloucestershire-sculptor Georgie Welch has created it here.
4. He’s still dancing — even in fancy dress!
He may be 17 this year but Valegro still has all the moves, even when recreating his own ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ alongside London 2012 teammate Uthopia. Carl and Charlotte braved the rain to piaffe, passage and pirouette beautifully through the puddles while making their Christmas video for 2018.
5. He helps make wishes come true for sick children
It’s not just gold medals that make dreams come true — several children fighting illness have had the pleasure of meeting him, and even sitting on him, since his retirement, including through the Willberry Wonder Pony charity’s Wilberry Wishes programme.
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6. He is the star of a number of best-selling books
Valegro is of course a prominent part of Charlotte’s autobiography ‘The Girl on the Dancing Horse’ — which has been shortlisted for the Autobiography of the Year at the Telegraph Sports Book Awards — and he also stars in his own children series as well, The Blueberry Stories, written by Carl and Janet Rising.
7. He’s still making the cover of Horse & Hound
Valegro has graced the cover of Horse & Hound no fewer than 30 times — and four of those times has been since his retirement in December 2016, just proving what a superstar he still is.
For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday.