The nine-year-old Mount St John Freestyle has taken the dressage world by storm over the past couple of years. Having risen through the levels at an impressive rate under Charlotte Dujardin and earning stellar grand prix scores this season, the Fidermark daughter looks set to spearhead the British team at this September’s World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA. 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 hasn’t been beaten in nearly two years
It’s testament to Freestyle’s sheer quality and consistency that she hasn’t scored below 74% at any level in the past three years. Her 74.53% prix st georges at the nationals in 2016 was also the last time she was beaten — on this occasion by Charlotte riding Hawtins Delicato, now Carl Hester’s WEG contender.
4. She still has her moments of greenness
Although the grand prix work came incredibly naturally to her, Freestyle is still only nine and can have green moments, particularly in the piaffe-passage transitions.
“At Windsor this year she surprised me a bit as we had those transitions really good and then in the arena she went all green on me,” revealed Charlotte, after last week’s victory at Bolesworth. “She was still not quite confident so we worked on them more at home and I rode them more positively here.”
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.
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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 nine, 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 five, produced a Vivaldi colt earlier this year (pictured above), while Dancefloor has given Freestyle a granddaughter, who is by Total US.