Carl Hester on his latest grand prix ride — the quirky roan gelding who eats tuna sandwiches

  • Carl Hester achieved one of his 2019 resolutions when he debuted the 10-year-old Ekitof at grand prix recently. The Zucchero son now joins Carl’s top level string of horses, scoring 71.4% at Hartpury’s show on 20 January.

    The gelding, known at home as Blackie and described by Carl as a “black roan” due to the white flecks in his coat, became advanced medium gold national champion with Charlotte Dujardin in 2017, but has been very lightly competed as he is particularly quirky — his first grand prix was just his seventh British Dressage test to date, having done just one prix st georges test since his national title.

    “He’s basically gone from advanced medium straight to grand prix and he was excited to be out,” said Carl of the horse’s first competitive outing in over a year.

    “He’s not a horse for the faint-hearted – you definitely have to have a sense of humour to ride him,” Carl told H&H. “When he went to the nationals with Charlotte it took three of us to get him through the archway into the arena — and then he went and won the class!


    Charlotte riding Ekitof at the BD National Championships in 2017

    “We always felt that once Blackie was fully trained he would become more obedient. He’s just taken a long time to learn it all — at first he felt untalented for everything, then he learnt to do it and now he looks really talented. He can be incredibly lazy — after Charlotte rode him at the nationals she said ‘never again’ — but there’s a lot of things I really enjoy about him; he is so soft in the contact,” added Carl, who owns Blackie along with Isabel Barber — “who luckily also has a great sense of humour” — and has had him on the yard since he was a two-year-old.

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    “He has such a funny personality — he doesn’t really like other horses, but he loves people and he eats tuna sandwiches and bananas. He’s a little like Liebling [Carl’s 2009 European medallist] in terms of his character.

    “We have no expectations of him — Blackie’s definitely our pet and it’s all fun. We’ll do some national grands prix with him this year and then possibly step him up to some internationals.”

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