Tales from Tokyo: what Portuguese rider João Miguel Torrão learnt from Carl Hester

  • Portuguese rider João Miguel Torrão, who scored 70.186% at the Tokyo Olympics today, feels privileged to have spent time training with Carl Hester in 2019.

    “That was an amazing experience for me, to be able to be there in his yard and to have the opportunity to watch him and Charlotte [Dujardin] ride,” said João. “He’s an amazing person, an amazing trainer and I learned a lot from him.”

    João also benefited from the opportunity to ride London 2012 gold medal-winning horses Valegro and Uthopia.

    “That was an incredible experience for me,” he remembered.

    But the most important thing João took away from his time at Carl’s was the British rider’s attitude to how horses should be treated.

    He explained: “Basically I really learned to respect the horse as an animal. Although we are competing on the highest level, it’s very important we never forget we are working with animals and that they are horses first.

    “In Portugal, we have a lot of stallions and with stallions it’s a bit more difficult to put them in the field, but I learnt it’s important to let horses be horses.”

    João Miguel Torrão has been riding his Olympic partner, the 12-year-old stallion Equador, for seven years and says: “For me, he is the perfect horse. He’s a stallion, but at the competitions he behaves like a gelding and he’s very, very easy. He’s easy travelling and in the stable. He just loves it. If you give him food, he’s happy and calm.”

    Aside from one mistake at the start, when Equador moved out of the first halt in canter rather than trot, João was delighted with his test.

    “I was very happy with him – we are not so experienced and he was amazing, with this being such a big show,” he said.

    This is the first time Portugal has had a dressage team at the Olympics

    “When we qualified as a team at the last European Championships, that was unique, and then to have the opportunity to be here and represent our country – that’s a dream come true,” concluded João, who rides alongside team-mates Maria Caetano and Rodrigo Torres here in Japan.

    You might also be interested in:

    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 your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...