In an extraordinary year for Great Britain as a country and equestrian sport in particular, if I had to name one highlight, it would have to be Charlotte Dujardin’s remarkable dressage performance at Greenwich.
Every achievement by our Olympians and Paralympians is worthy of note — from the eventers’ team silver, the showjumpers’ gold and our amazing dressage teams in both sections.
But for me as showing editor, it was Charlotte who really shone. After all, she was a show pony kid. Who would have imagined that a leggy little girl who rode Ardenhall Royal Secret at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) would one day be best in the world at dressage?
Let’s just savour that for a moment. Best in the world.
This spectacular summer — in spirit, not in climate — will remain in our memories forever. And it wasn’t just the Olympics.
Certainly, the weather was terrible, but that’s when we Brits come into our own. Many equestrian fixtures had no choice but to cancel, but others — such as Hickstead — did their utmost to make sure the show stayed on the (wet and muddy) road.
The Royal International, held at Hickstead in July, was touch and go, but the showing crowd are tough and were rewarded with sunshine on the final day. Guess who managed to get sunburnt…
And I couldn’t have been more pleased when Katie Jerram, H&H columnist and quite possibly the nicest person ever to grace a showring, won the supreme horse accolade with Dunbeacon. DB is the family favourite and Katie was almost speechless with joy.
“Where on earth would I find another one like him?” she said simply.
I suspect the pony supreme, too, will be someone’s horse of a lifetime. The four-year-old 148cm Dance All Night had a storming debut season and swept effortlessly to victory at Hickstead. She scored 28 points out of a possible 30 — two nines and one 10 — from pony supreme judges Georgina Andrews and Jennifer Williams.
The smart money was on her to claim the show pony of the year at HOYS. But the top accolade went to the 138cm Broadgrove Only You, ridden by Alexia Trodd-Bohin. I will never forget watching her ride down the centre line under the spot when Only You spooked at the light. How she stayed in the plate I will never fathom; it was an extraordinary piece of jockeyship.
Perhaps she — and other riders — will one day stand on the podium at a future Olympics Games. No pressure, guys…
Horse & Hound celebrates an incredible 12 months for the equestrian world in our 2012 Review of the Year magazine (6 December, 2012). Grab your copy from your local stockist or buy a digital issue online now.