Charlotte Dujardin and her charismatic horse Valegro burst onto the international sports scene with their recordbreaking performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The world was captivated by the young woman with the dazzling smile and her dancing horse. The YouTube clip of their Freestyle performance has since had over 1.7 million views, and Dujardin is considered the dominant dressage rider of her era. When Valegro (affectionately called “Blueberry”) retired from competition at the end of 2016, his farewell performance at the Olympia Grand Hall sold out and the dark bay gelding received a standing ovation.
Dujardin began riding horses at the age of two, but dressage was the domain of the richnot the life a girl from a middleclass family was born into. Her parents sacrificed to give her as many opportunities as they could, and she left school at 16 to focus on equestrian competition. It was at 22, when she was invited to be a groom for British Olympian Carl Hester, that she met the equine partner that would change her fortune.
This is the story of an outsider, an unconventional horse, and the incredible bond that took them to the top.
About the Author
Charlotte Dujardin is an elite British dressage rider, winner of three Olympic gold medals and a silver (London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016), European Champion, and World Champion, and holds all three World Records in the sport of dressage. Born in Enfield, England, Dujardin was brought up in Hertfordshire and started riding when she was two. By the age of 16 she had won the Horse of the Year Show competition four times, and her trainer at the time encouraged her to explore the sport of dressage. In February 2007, Dujardin had some lessons with British Olympian Carl Hester, and spotting her talent, he offered her a job as a groom. She was asked to bring along a young Dutch Warmblood gelding named Valegro with the intention that horse would eventually be ridden by Hester; however, after Hester and his coowner awarded the ride on Valegro to Dujardin when their partnership and great potential became apparent, and so began the pair's meteoric rise. Along with her many medals and awards in the dressage arena, Dujardin was named BT Action Woman of the Year (2014), Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswoman of the Year (2014), and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2017). Dujardin remains based at Hester's barn in Gloucestershire, England (www.charlottedujardin.co.uk).