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‘My writer was almost falling off her chair with the scores’: Isobel Wessels on judging Valegro


  • Isobel Wessels, is an international dressage rider, trainer and five-star judge, and on this week’s episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast she talks about some of her fondest moments as a judge.

    “There have been so many highlights, but one of the most amazing experiences I had was in Hagen in 2012 [at the European Dressage Championships], where Valegro and Charlotte [Dujardin] reached an enormous score in the grand prix special and I was the judge at C,” she explains. “It was the most amazing test and the fact that it then became a world record is just a bit mind-blowing really. My writer was almost falling off her chair with the scores I was giving. The atmosphere was incredible and it was the most amazing feeling.”

    Isobel then shares another fond memory from her judging career to-date, where she was on the ground jury at Olympia in 2014.

    “Charlotte and Valegro broke the world record for both the grand prix and the grand prix special, and I can remember thinking I better be careful that the camera doesn’t catch me with my mouth wide open and my eyes staring with tears falling down my cheeks, as they performed their test,” she says.

    Isobel also highlights judging Totilas when he was ridden by Edward Gal as a favourite moment during her career.

    “Totilas was such a magical horse – he had an aura that drew you in when you watched him,” says Isobel. “And it’s Totilas and Valegro that have changed the face of judging, because suddenly giving 10s was quite normal – I feel so privileged and humble to have been able to judge those horses.”

    Listen to more of Isobel’s priceless advice by listening to episode 90 of The Horse & Hound Podcast here or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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