Olympic Stories

Carl Hester - Dressage

Carl Hester - Dressage

Born on June 29, 1967 in Barnet, Greater London, England, Carl Hester is a 44-year-old equestrienne who will be competing in London’s upcoming 2012 Olympic Games. Because the horse does most of the athletic word in the dressage event Hester will be competing in, Carl’s age doesn’t affect his performance in the same would it would, say, a runner or swimmer. So Great Britain is sure that his medal odds are just as great as they’ve ever been.

Hester has a laundry list of high profile achievements, but in multiple interviews, he has emphatically stated that his most memorable victories are actually quite recent. For someone who great up on Channel Island and rode horses from a very young age, Hester is just now reaching the pinnacle of his performance, some four decades after his first session on horseback.

Sporting Career

When Carl Hester decided to take up the sport of dressage in the early 1980s, he was already a natural. Only 18 months after he began training for the sport, Hester would win the National Young Rider Championship in 1985. He quickly landed on the British Young Rider team in 1988, and he hasn’t looked back since.

This year’s Olympic Games will be Carl’s fourth. Unfortunately, he and his team have never favored very well in Olympic competition. A slew of mishaps and all-around bad luck have kept him off of the podium. However, Carl has experienced much success in the world and international circuit. Entering his fourth Games, Hester hopes to change his misfortune of past and to bring home Olympic Gold.

At the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Carl and Escapado (his horse) placed higher than any other Briton – the same thing at the 2005 European Championships, where the pair ended up finishing in 6th place. Attempting to ride this streak into 2007 and the European Championships, Carl was injured and had to back out at the last minute.

2008 wouldn’t be any kinder to Hester. His two promising horses for Beijing’s Games, Lecantos and Dolendo, both suffered injuries. (Most fail to realize that dressage is a partnership; if the horse is hurt, the team suffers; if the rider is hurt, the team suffers.)

It wasn’t all bad for Carl that year. He was given an opportunity to ride a new horse, Liebling, and the two formed a quick, strong bond and won an international grand prix shortly after. A host of other great results would lead the British team to select Carl for the European Dressage Championships in 2009. Carl’s riding helped Team GB win a silver medal in that event, and he would repeat those results a year later with another silver medal.
Overall, Carl’s career has had its share of ups, downs, and plenty of horses, but as the 2012 Games approach, Hester is confident in his abilities and sure that he can help his team take the top prize.

Career Highlights

  • 2009 European Championships – Silver
  • 2010 European Championships – Silver
  • 2011 European Championships – Gold, Silver (2)
  • 2012 Summer Olympics – Gold (team)

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