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Carl Hester: Is a British dressage tour on the playing cards for 2023?

  • Carl Hester on his jet-set schedule and attracting foreign riders to the UK

    Lecture demo season has commenced, and I have already done my first one. More than 30 years ago, my first-ever lecture demo was at Gleneagles, so it was great to be back in Scotland at the Scottish National Equestrian Centre (SNEC), near Edinburgh.

    The warmth and generosity of the Scottish people quickly dissipated the habitual nerves I get on these occasions. The amazing arena there is really well lit, with excellent footing and capacity for 1,200 people. Thanks for the warm welcome to all who came to “The SNEC” and to the team there for all their hard work in preparation.

    Next stop is Massachusetts, USA, then Queensland, Australia, in early November, taking my “Through the levels” masterclass on a bit of a trip.

    All this travelling made me think about next year and competitions. As we have all found, post-Brexit travel to Europe is not easy – to put it mildly – but it looks as though a wonderful opportunity may present itself. Although still in the planning stages and with no buttons pressed yet, we may get a four-star CDI at Royal Windsor Horse Show and a three-star international at Hickstead next May.

    Royal Windsor organisers HPower also put on Britain’s only five-star dressage at the London International Horse Show. In 2021, the classes provided to help our Olympic horses prepare for pure and eventing dressage in Tokyo were an example of how useful Windsor is as an event, with all the members of the public there, the atmosphere and the publicity generated from it.

    It’s important for dressage to be a part of Royal Windsor and next year – with Her Majesty The Queen Consort as patron of British Equestrian – will mark a new era. It will be very poignant and emotional as we will all undoubtedly remember our late Queen.

    We look to British Equestrian to support all our international organisers and capitalise on combining dressage with showjumping at events. In May this year, I raved about the new-look Hickstead Premier League and set down a challenge – would they be up for a CDI?

    Well, it appears as though the challenge may have been accepted. Yes, it looks likely to follow closely after Royal Windsor, but why on earth not? Look at the Spanish Sunshine Tour and others like it in Europe. This is exactly what could attract more foreign riders to our shows. This is not yet set in stone, but I say to my friends abroad: “Come over to Britain and do two prestigious shows; we’d love to see you.”

    Sheer talent

    Dickie Waygood and John McEwen being awarded The Queen’s Award for Equestrianism by the British Horse Society was incredibly special news. No wonder our British teams have been so successful on Dickie’s watch. It’s a real all-rounder of a job – the sheer amount of knowledge required, being there for the team through the highs and lows, the management, and the talent to deliver that package to support our teams again and again. Dickie, we salute you.

    I have been lucky enough to have been on teams when John McEwen was team vet (just one aspect of his stellar veterinary career). Although I haven’t seen him for a few years, last Christmas I was watching a Hotel Chocolat documentary. There was the incomparable John and his wife, without knowing the cameras were on them, visiting a pop-up stand and enjoying a lot of chocolate. If that’s retirement, I’m looking forward to it!

    ● Have you been lucky enough to attend one of Carl’s lecture demos? Tell us about it at

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 13 October

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