Carl is the greatest dressage rider and horseman in the world. Talent can get you so far, but the support team that you have around you is instrumental in getting you to the top.
Five years ago I hadn’t even ridden an advanced dressage horse but when I did, I loved it straight away. Having had lessons at Carl’s and then been asked to ride for him for ten days was a dream in itself. To then be asked to stay on indefinitely was a rare opportunity I had to grab with both hands. As the days turned into months, I learnt that dressage demands utter precision and an understanding between horse and rider than can only come from hours of practice and bonding with the horses on the ground. Carl has nothing but patience and love for all the horses at the yard. He understands that horses develop at different speeds and will not rush them.
Our partnership and mutual respect for each other grew by the day. He is always fun to be around, shouts at me when I make mistakes (ha ha) but always makes me want to be a better rider. I have learnt more than I could have imagined just being based at his yard, watching and observing his priceless techniques.
Yet unbeknown to me, the greatest honour was yet to come….. Blueberry (Valegro) is a horse of a lifetime. Carl and Roly gave me the ride when he was just five years old. As it became clear that Blueberry had immense talent, I expected Carl to take the ride for himself. But as he saw my partnership grow, he let me keep the ride and words cannot describe how grateful I am for this opportunity.
Will Connell, Team GB’s equestrian director described the bond between the two “telepathic.” He said: “Valegro and Charlotte have developed together. The two of them thrive under pressure and are on the verge of becoming superstars.”
After an incredible first year on Valegro, winning at the Europeans was a huge boost in my quest to ride in Greenwich at London 2012. We were selected to represent Great Britain in the summer of 2012 at the Olympics. On the day, Carl said “Some people wish it would happen, some people think it will happen, and you’re going to make it happen” Blueberry gave me his all and I will cherish those days forever…I couldn’t have done it without Carl, the team at the yard, all my friends, family and sponsors and of course the wonder horse himself..