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Legends of the sport: Mark Todd’s diminutive star, Charisma *H&H Plus*

This “feisty, fiery” yet diminutive horse won consecutive Olympic golds under New Zealand’s Mark Todd. Catherine Austen finds out more about the headstrong eventer with “limitless stamina”

Legendary event horse Charisma

Died age 30yo,
Breeding: dark bay New Zealand Sport Horse gelding
Owner/rider: Mark Todd
Breeder: Daphne and Peter Williams

Charisma was born in 1972, out of jumping and polo mare Planet – who was 1/16th Percheron – by the thoroughbred Tira Mink. Planet hunted before becoming a grade A showjumper, and was the first mare in New Zealand to jump her own height.

“When I look back, I just think about how cool Charisma was – and how lucky I was to have him,” says Mark Todd. “He was so easy to do anything with, and so kind. But as a competitor, he was feisty, fiery, and exceptionally tough and brave.”

Charisma’s enduring fame pivots around those back-to-back individual Olympic gold medals at Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988, and the extraordinary partnership between the 6ft 2in rider and the 15.3hh horse. Anyone who took an interest in eventing during the 1980s will be able to recall Mark’s tall, lean upper body crouching low over Charisma’s compact form, the rider’s head almost further forward than the horse’s pricked ears.

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