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by BBC Radio 4
Desert Island Discs

Carl Hester, dressage rider

Description

Carl Hester is a dressage rider who has competed in six Olympic Games, winning a team gold at London 2012.

Carl grew up on Sark in the Channel Islands, where cars are banned and horses are part of the island’s daily life. He learned to ride on a donkey before progressing to horses. After leaving school, his first job was at an equine therapy centre in Hampshire.

A key moment in his early career was an invitation from Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer, a leading figure in dressage, to join his yard. In 1992 Carl became the youngest ever British rider to compete at an Olympic Games. As well as a gold in London in 2012, he and the team won silver in Rio in 2016, and earlier this year a bronze medal in Tokyo, where he was the oldest member of Team GB.

Carl has also enjoyed great success as a trainer of horses, including Valegro, once described as the ‘Lionel Messi of the dressage world.’ He has also mentored the rider Charlotte Dujardin, currently Britain’s most successful female Olympian along with the cyclist Laura Kenny.

He lives near Newent in Gloucestershire and says he hopes to compete at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Presenter Lauren Laverne
Producer Sarah Taylor

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by BBC Radio 4