If you haven’t tuned in to The Horse & Hound Podcast yet, where have you been? It’s packed full of expert advice, news analysis and fascinating insight into the lives of top riders, and with almost 40 episodes now available, you’re spoilt for choice.
Read on for five episodes featuring fabulous dressage guests you definitely should not miss…
‘It’s so hard to get that lucky strike’ – Charlotte Dujardin, episode 33
This candid interview with the double Olympic champion is a must-listen. In this podcast, Charlotte Dujardin discusses the challenges of 2020, her plans for 2021 and explains why she is so keen to give back to the sport.
“At the national championships I got really emotional watching Carl riding En Vogue. It was so special to stand and watch Carl ride my horse,” she revealed.
“I have a really good seven-year-old, River Rise Isabella, who is with Katie Bailey,” said Charlotte. “I think it’s great that I can now give riders like her the opportunity to have some fantastic horses, and give back to the sport a bit.
“As riders we all work so hard and we all want it, but it’s so hard to get that lucky strike. I was so lucky that Carl was so generous to me and gave me the chance to fulfill my dreams,” added Charlotte, referring to Carl giving her the ride on Valegro.
“If I can do that for somebody else, I’d love to be able to.”
‘It’s not easy to go out and be yourself’ – Carl Hester, episode 24
From one dressage megastar to another, Carl Hester’s interview covers a multitude of fascinating topics, from some of his favourite championship memories and his strong views on how social media and cyber bullying is affecting dressage riders.
While Carl has been on the receiving end of online abuse himself, he is most concerned about the impact the negative effects of social media can have on younger riders, and their mental wellbeing and ambitions within the sport.
“I don’t want people, especially young riders, growing up and having to deal with some of the things that get written online – it makes you wonder why you would ever want to compete again, when you spend all your time worrying about who might video you and put it in front of other people so they can rip you apart,” he says.
“It’s not easy now to go out there and be yourself, if you’re always worried about what other people are going to say,” adds Carl.
‘Not many kids from Jimboomba, Australia end up on the European dressage circuit’ – Gareth Hughes, episode 16
As a sport, dressage is a world away from Western riding, but that was how British championship medallist Gareth Hughes got started in his career.
“I grew up in Jimboomba, Australia, and not many kids from Jimboomba end up on the European circuit doing dressage,” laughs Gareth.
“We moved out there when I was six. The local trainer I was working with was an all-round Aussie performance trainer, and over there you have an awful lot of competitions for Western riding, reining and Australian stock horse classes. That’s what I got going with.
“But I was always slightly obsessed with dressage, and even though I was doing no real dressage in Australia, I would follow what was going on over here. I used to get the European Championships and World Cup Finals on video tape.”
We had to ask – does Gareth harbour a secret desire to return to reining? You’ll have to listen in to find out…
‘He was like riding a snake’ – Louise Bell, episode 12
Showing champion turned international grand prix dressage rider Louise Bell had us laughing out loud during this episode, recounting – among other things – the first time she ever met her jumping-bred showing and dressage star partner, Into The Blue (Dynamo).
“John Whitaker rang me and said, ‘I might have one for you; if anything, you’ll like the colour!” she recounts.
“So I trundled up to Yorkshire, and I can only explain Dynamo’s colour as pink. I got on and he was like riding a snake — he was so flexible in so many ways. He had a fantastic walk, nice trot and a brilliant canter, but he was all over the place! But I completely and utterly fell in love with him.
“He looked really croup high; he was about a foot higher behind than in front, but I loved him for the way he was bred, his connections — and the fact that John told me he was a good horse!”
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‘London 2012 was a catalyst for changing perceptions” – Natasha Baker, episode 3
As one of Britain’s most successful Paralympians, Natasha Baker has plenty of insight into the growth of para dressage, and also changing attitudes towards disability and disability sport.
“Britain was so dominant in para dressage for such a long time; we were unbeaten since 1996, and now we have so many teams snapping at our heels,” she says. “Obviously we want to be on top, but it is great for the sport to see so much amazing competition.
“I think the London Olympics was such a big catalyst for people changing their perception of disability. It was the first time many people saw disability on the TV in such a positive light. There was a stigma, and people didn’t want to offend by asking those with disabilities about them.
“In 2012 Channel 4 helped change that by calling the Paralympians ‘superhuman’ and that was an amazing term for people with disabilities who are going out there and achieving their goals.”
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