Carl Hester: Have we found the next Charlotte? [H&H VIP]

  • The news that the FEI will now hold an annual championship for under 25s is absolutely fabulous for riders and the sport in general.

    The most encouraging aspect is that it will provide an incentive for riders to think of training through grand prix. There used to be two divisions — young riders or grand prix — for both horses and riders, whereas now there is a way forward to change that notion when training horses.

    Maybe these championships could be added to the senior Europeans every two years. After all, these riders are adults and as they’re riding piaffe and passage what a great training ground this would be. It was done in Herning two years ago with inter II and grand prix classes, with great success.

    On the other hand, news that the World Breeding Championships is, from next year, to include a small tour class for seven-year-olds could encourage training to this level too fast.

    At the moment there is huge diversity at six-year-old level, with half-pass and changes required in the test. There is a solid group of riders who can train with the balance, self-carriage and impulsion to make the tests look nice to watch, but there are still too many six-year-olds shown that are just not ready for this level. And if this is the sort of seven-year-old that’s going to be doing prix st georges, this is only going to encourage glory riding for some, not the correct basics.

    A strict selection policy and more viewing days for selecting for these young horse classes — as they do in Holland and Germany — would help, but I get the impression that many nations tend to end up sending whoever wants to go.

    ‘The new generation of Charlottes’

    That our pony team has become as successful as our senior team gives every reason for the pony riders to head off to the European Championships in Malmö in August with great hopes.

    Our juniors and young riders have a lot to live up to, but it’s fascinating to look at the new generation of Charlottes emerging from our dressage dynasties. On the young riders team there’s Charlotte Fry, daughter of Simon and my late team colleague Laura, while Charlotte Dicker is on the junior team as was her mother Anne, who competed on the junior eventing team and was a regular young riders team member, winning team silver in 1986.

    Anne’s mother is, of course, the incomparable Jennie Loriston-Clarke, so Charlotte had huge footsteps to walk in.

    Stand and deliver

    With the current trend of promoting dressage through lecture demonstrations and smaller displays, we must get some of our young talent learning to stand up and deliver the message of what our sport is all about. When people ask me about doing these talks, my feeling is that more people must be capable of doing it. You don’t need to have your own Valegro — one of my most successful demos featured a coloured cob — although it is fabulous for an audience to see the end result.

    So at training days let’s see lecture demo training – or make delivering a talk part of the assessment for the British Dressage young professionals award, for example, giving young people the chance to learn how to get the point across and make it fun.

    Puzzle solvers at the ready?

    The new gold, silver and bronze structure which British Dressage is planning to introduce looks very complicated. Is there anyone out there who is good at doing Sudoku or The Times crossword who could unravel and explain it? So far I and everyone I’ve spoken to is simply confused.com.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 25 June 2015