Carl Hester MBE is one of Britain’s most successful dressage riders. He is an Olympic gold medallist and multi-medallist at European and world championships. He is also the holder of 68 national dressage titles, and was crowned British national champion in 2019.
Carl grew up on the Channel Island of Sark, where his first mount was a donkey called Jacko. He moved to mainland Britain aged 16 to work at the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy in Dorset. Just 18 months after taking up dressage, Carl became national young rider champion.
In 1989, Carl started riding for the Bechtolsheimers. In his three and a half years with them, Carl went to the World Championships in 1990 and the European Championships in 1991 on Rubelit Von Unkenriff, as well as the 1992 Barcelona Olympics on Georgioni. Carl credits the Bechtolsheimers for setting him on his path to international success.
A top trainer as well as a competitor, Carl Hester is the mentor of the double Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin and part owner of the dressage wonderhorse Valegro. Carl has successfully trained numerous horses up to grand prix level dressage during his career. These include Uthopia, with whom he won gold medals at the European Championships in 2011 and the London 2012 Olympics, and Nip Tuck, on whom he won team silver medals at the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG), 2015 Europeans and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Carl’s current top horses are Hawtins Delicato and En Vogue. With the Diamond Hit son Delicato, Carl helped Britain win team bronze at WEG in Tryon in 2018. They were also part of the British team at the 2019 European Championships, where they finished ninth in the grand prix special.
Carl took over the ride on Charlotte Dujardin’s Jazz gelding En Vogue in spring 2020. The pair made their international debut at Keysoe CDI in October 2020, finishing third in the special. In 2021, they were part of the British team at the delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo and took team bronze.
Carl Hester is a regular columnist for Horse & Hound magazine. H&H Plus members can read his latest thoughts online.