Charlotte Dujardin on Life After Valegro With Emma Blundell’s British-Bred Youngsters–Part 2 of 3

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History made! Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, Olympic team and individual gold medal winners at the 2012 London Olympics the first Games in a century of dressage competition that Great Britain won a medal.. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
History made! Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, Olympic team and individual gold medal winners at the 2012 London Olympics the first Games in a century of dressage competition that Great Britain won a medal.. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

June 16, 2015

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Preparing for a life with horses after Valegro, Charlotte Dujardin has begun a partnership with Emma Blundell who was a childhood competitor on the English “showing” circuit and has created what the world’s No.1 rider describes as a “phenomenal” operation in Britain to breed horses for top dressage sport.

For Charlotte who will be 30 years old next month the venture with Emma, a year younger and owner and developer of Mount St. John breeding operation provides her with an opportunity to show she is not a “one-trick” person as the rider of one of the most successful horses in the history of dressage.

The arrangement is also helping Charlotte plan a future with her own training center though maintaining the close relationship she has had for the past nine years with Carl Hester, a part-owner of Valegro and mentor of Charlotte at his farm in Gloucestershire, England about two hours north of London.

“I’ve been with Carl for nine years and at the end of the day as much as I’ve got out of it—he’s taught me so much—none of it’s mine,” she told dressage-news.com. “Now I feel I want some of it to be my own. I want to have my own yard, I want to have my own horses at home. I’ve never wanted that before.

“I’m going to be 30 this year… maybe have a baby, start my own family. I don’t know where life’s going to go. I need to plan a bit more for the future now.”

Charlotte’s record on Valegro is among history’s best. Isabell Werth on Gigolo won four gold and two silver medals in three Olympics in a record may never be matched. But what the British pair achieved was historic–leading the country to the first ever dressage Olympic medal in a century of the Games with both team and individual gold in London in 2012. Add to that World Games and European Championship gold, two World Cup titles and all three Grand Prix score records.

Emma Blundell holding one of her young horses with Charlotte Dujardin aboard.
Emma Blundell holding one of her young horses with Charlotte Dujardin aboard.

Emma launched the Mount St. John’s breeding operation in England’s northern Yorkshire county with the drive of a high tech entrepreneur and help from her successful businessman father. The operation is based on the family estate.

After getting a business degree at Manchester University, Emma set out to develop a breeding operation based on mares.

As new to the business and as young as Emma is, Charlotte said, she did not go into it blindfolded but immersed herself in horse breeding. She went to all the stallion shows, studied bloodlines, networked “beyond belief,” developed ties to some of the top breeders in the world.

“She knows exactly what she’s doing,” Charlotte said, “knows where she’s spending money to her advantage then producing such fantastic horses.

“We’ve never had that in Great Britain. The set up she has is phenomenal” and “producing absolutely unbelievable” offspring.

“It’s so exciting for the Brits that we actually have someone breeding with some of the top top top mares and top stallions and hopefully getting some top foals.

”I feel so proud she’s British. She’s proud she’s got me and I’m proud that I’ve got her.

“It’s going to be a very strong combination that hopefully for the future we can produce up and coming Grand Prix horses we’ve bred over here.”

Emma has based two young horses at Carl Hester’s barn and two more nearby for Charlotte to ride.

Is this be the next stage in Charlotte’s career?

“I think so,” she said. “For me I absolutely love producing young horses, I love having that challenge.

“It’s quite funny but I went to a show with one of Emma’s four-year-olds doing a young horse class. I was told, ’You’re crazy, you don’t need to be doing that any more,’ I love it, I absolutely love it.

“It’s great that I’ve got Emma behind me, so many exciting horses so many different bloodlines. I’m so looking forward to the future.”

Charlotte is disappointed that the World Young Horse Championships are being staged this year within days of the European Championships that prevents her from showing one of Emma’s horse because she needs to focus on Valegro. But she wants to be there in 2016.

A moment when Valegro chewing on flowers held by Charlotte Dujardin is more important than the championships gold medal presentation,. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
A moment when Valegro chewing on flowers held by Charlotte Dujardin is more important than the championships gold medal presentation,. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

On the possible retirement of Valegro after the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year when the KWPN gelding will be 14 years old, Charlotte said that she decided with Carl on the scenario with the horse she calls “Blueberry.”

“I feel I want to finish at the top,” she said. “He doesn’t owe us anything.

“For me the horse is the world to me, literally the world to me, and I don’t want to stop when he’s broken or when he’s got nothing left in him or he’s not enjoying it.

“So many people say, ‘you shoudn’t retire him.’

“The thing is he’s done so much for me. I’m not saying Rio will be the end. The day I feel the horse is not enjoying it or doesn’t want to be doing it any more is the day I stop. Hopefully I want to do that when he is at the at the top and not at the bottom.

“I want everybody to remember him at his best. That means more to me than to keep going and get every last bit out of him.”

Part 3: Charlotte Dujardin and Young Horses