The 11-year-old Mount St John Freestyle has taken the dressage world by storm over the past couple of years. Having won individual bronze at the World Equestrian Games in 2018, she and Charlotte are now on course for the postponed Tokyo Olympics, due to be held in 2021. But how much do you know about the Hanoverian mare that Carl and Charlotte call ‘Mrs Valegro’?
1. Mount St John Freestyle was spotted by her owner Emma Blundell as a foal
Freestyle was bred by Stephan Kurz, and born on 17 May 2009 in Germany, before being purchased by Emma Blundell of Yorkshire’s Mount St John stud as a foal at the Verden Elite foal auction later that summer. As a result, she carries the prefix Mount St John, which distinguishes horses bought by the stud from those bred by the stud — who use MSJ.
2. She started her career in young horse classes
Freestyle finished sixth at the British Dressage national championships in 2013 in the four-year-old finals, ridden by Emma (pictured below). Charlotte Dujardin took over the ride in 2015, scoring more than 78% at medium on the pair’s first outing together.
3. She has come within a fraction of the elusive 90%
Charlotte and Freestyle posted their highest score together so far in January 2020, 89.5% in the freestyle at the World Cup qualifier in Amsterdam. they were just pipped to the post by Isabell Werth, who beat them with 90% on her three-time World Cup champion Weihegold OLD, but there’s everything to suggest Freestyle still has even more marks in her.
4. It’s taken a couple of shows for her to get used to competing indoors
Although Mount St John Freestyle isn’t a spooky mare, Charlotte reported that at her first indoor competition, the World Cup qualifier in Lyon, in November 2019, she was a little overwhelmed by the atmosphere.
“Competing in Lyon recently we learned that she can go a little into herself indoors — she needs more confidence and exposure, but that’s why I’m doing the World Cup series,” said Charlotte at the time.
5. Carl sometimes rides her at home
Carl and Charlotte swap horses often when they are working at home, and Freestyle is no exception. Carl revealed that he jumped on her a week before Bolesworth so Charlotte could watch her piaffe-passage transitions — with excellent results.
“Charlotte’ll get on Delicato and wind him up and I’ll get on and unwind Freestyle,” he laughed.
Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester may not have been competing at Olympia 2017, but they captivated the crowds with their
Charlotte triumphs in Mount St John Freestyle's first grand prix special, with Carl tops the kür.
6. She’s as close to perfect as a horse can get
Freestyle is never naughty or mareish — and she loves cuddles.
“She’s perfect in pretty much every way,” Charlotte told H&H. “She’s lovely in the stable, and to handle — she loves cuddles. And I know that whatever arena I take her into she’ll always perform — she’s not spooky or silly, and she’s such a trier.”
7. She does have one flaw, however
“When she gets to a show she can be very clingy to other horses — whoever she has travelled with,” Charlotte told H&H. “At home she’s not clingy at all, but at a show she screams and shouts and climbs the walls, and can be quite stressful.”
8. She loves to wave her admirers
Ever since she was a young horse Freestyle has loved prize-givings, using one foreleg to ‘wave’ to the crowds while Charlotte collects her prize (below). She even decided to give the Royal Box a double wave during a prize-giving interview at Royal Windsor, prompting gasps from the crowd, but where other riders might have dropped the microphone, Charlotte barely even broke the flow of her sentence.
9. Her legacy is set to continue — Freestyle is a grandmother
She may only be 11, but Freestyle hasn’t just excelled in sport. She has produced three foals by embryo transfer — a 2013 Ampere filly called MSJ A La Freestyle, a 2014 De Niro filly called MSJ Dancefloor, and a 2014 San Amour colt named MSJ Streetdance. A La Freestyle, now seven, has produced a Vivaldi colt, while Dancefloor has given Freestyle a granddaughter, who is by Total US.
Would you like to read Horse & Hound’s independent journalism without any adverts? Join Horse & Hound Plus today and you can read all articles on completely ad-free