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Mark Todd on Charisma: ‘I very nearly got back in the car saying “I can’t ride that”’

The wonderful horse Charisma – Mark Todd’s back-to-back Olympic champion – needs no introduction. He won individual Olympic gold eventing medals in 1984 and 1988, among countless other successes. Standing at around 15.2hh, Mark admits he initially disregarded the horse due to his lack of height.

“I first came across Charisma as a two-year-old in a field when I was working on a farm in New Zealand,” says Mark, while being interviewed by H&H’s eventing editor Pippa Roome for episode 21 of the Horse & Hound podcast. “I remember thinking, ‘oh, that’s a cute little horse, it’s a shame he’ll never be big enough.’

“The next time I came across him was while I was training our local Pony Club at the championships and he was there representing another area and he would have won if his rider hadn’t made a mistake in the showjumping.

“Then a while later, I was returning from the UK and I got a phone call asking if I wanted to have a ride on this horse called Charisma, as he hadn’t been doing anything for a while apart from dressage. I drove two hours to go and see him and there was this little, fat, hairy (as it was winter) pony, and I very nearly got back in the car saying ‘I can’t ride that’.

“But I thought I’d driven all that way, so I might as well have a sit on him, and as soon as I did, he didn’t feel like a little horse — he felt amazing. So I agreed to ride him.”

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Mark explains, given his tall stature and Charisma’s lack of size, how he had to alter his riding to allow for the difference.

“I had to ride him shorter than I normally would, as he had a habit of skimming over his fences a little bit, and if I didn’t ride short, my feet would hit the the fence and I’d be shot out of the saddle a bit.”

To hear more of Mark’s exclusive interview, listen to episode 21 of The Horse & Hound podcast or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.

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