Pammy Hutton: ‘How can we ensure Carl Hester gets the knighthood he deserves?’


  • Pammy Hutton FBHS, an international competitor, and trainer of Olympic and Paralympic medallists, on why the dressage world is so lucky to have Carl Hester

    How can we make sure Carl Hester gets the knighthood he surely deserves? He is a genius and the person behind almost all Britain’s current dressage success, including the recent European team gold medal.

    His training is brilliant, his riding outstanding. His methods and philosophy, so generously shared, are the shining beacon that will maintain our sport’s precious social licence to operate.

    Carl deserved to be knighted long ago. Am I going to have to go and knock at The King’s door? If so, it won’t be quietly…

    “Brilliant and inspiring”

    What can I add to the many accolades following Britain’s glorious gold medal at the European Dressage Championships? Wow, they were so good: the riders, the support team, the whole production was brilliant and inspiring.

    So, please, for once, can we stay positive or at least inclusive? I lost my rag on one social media group, the members of which appeared not to see the ease, the harmony and the happy horses creating dressage at its best?

    Everyone is entitled to their beliefs. There are those who ride horses with no shoes (I’m one of them). There are those campaigning against the exaggerated artificial gait known as the Big Lick, rollkur, endurance-related cruelty, whose views have rightly been represented to the FEI on occasions thanks to social media.

    But to those who automatically hate modern dressage, I’d advise watching the British tests at the Europeans again with an open mind. No, it was not better centuries ago. Yes, there were some geniuses of their time then. But, wow, we need to recognise the geniuses of the here and now.

    Criticise too much, too often and too indiscriminately, and you will make horses and riding wholly redundant.

    Sign of the times

    The FEI is putting a good spin on the fact that only one venue (albeit the wonderful Aachen in Germany) wants to host the 2026 World Championships in dressage and showjumping. What a terrible sign of the times! No one else pitched for those sports at all.

    Meanwhile, over in the world of top-level endurance, Al Ula – the Saudi Arabian venue where 15 of 32 horses sampled at this summer’s Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup tested positive – is in line to host that sport’s 2026 World Championships.

    Does no other nation want the kudos of staging a World Championship? Have medal events lost their appeal? Or have the FEI’s championship costs made them prohibitive?

    Is the future mechanical?

    I’ve recently ridden one of the newest mechanical horses. Having been rude about these machines’ limitations in the past, I can honestly say that the latest ones are brilliant. This one gave me many things to work on, equally weighted seat bones being one. If I could afford one, I’d use it for many of my clients.

    Clever as these devices are when it comes to the mechanics of riding, one can only truly “click” with a living horse – and that’s what so often reignites a love of riding. It also overcomes the inner saboteur we all have, turning “I can’t” into “I can”. For example, I was always nervous going cross-country. But clicking with my mare, and getting fit together for a big event, has helped me gain confidence. It ain’t half fun, too!

    ● Do you agree that Carl Hester deserves a knighthood? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your views published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 12 October, 2023

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