Whether you were in the arena or watching on the telly, the performances of our GB equestrian teams just took your breath away. The British Horse Society is so proud of our horses, riders and support teams and we join in offering our congratulations to everyone for a record-breaking equestrian Olympics on home turf.
Under typically varied summer conditions, our teams brought home five medals: Silver in eventing soon followed by Gold in showjumping, and not one, but two Golds and a Bronze in dressage – the first time an Olympic British team has ever achieved a medal in dressage. The BHS remembers with everlasting gratitude our past BHS President Desi Dillingham MBE, who took on the chairmanship of British Dressage back in 1998 and began the rebuilding process that resulted in our Gold medals in 2012.
The roar of the Greenwich crowds has drowned out any scepticism about our amateur status and replaced it with proof of Great Britain as an equestrian nation at the top of its game.
While equestrianism has traditionally been thought of as a sport only for the wealthy, many of our Olympic riders this year are turning these perceptions of the sport on its head.
Charlotte Dujardin, the 26-year-old who broke two Olympic records to take dressage individual and team gold, has been featured heavily in mainstream press noting her comprehensive education and background as a stable girl after leaving school at 16.
Neither was Charlotte’s mentor, three-time Olympian Carl Hester, born with the proverbial equestrian silver spoon in his mouth. Carl’s first ride was bareback on a donkey at the age of nine on the Channel Isle of Sark before moving to England at 16 to train for his BHS qualifications.
Meanwhile, eventer Mary King had been growing up in another non-horsy family without the money for her own pony. After leaving grammar school at 16, Mary took on a string of less-than-glamorous jobs to fund training for her dream of becoming an eventer, which she realised countless times, including four previous Olympic Games before her success at London 2012 at the age of 51.
A young light in show jumping, Scott Brash has also been providing inspiration for aspiring British riders. The 26-year-old builder’s son from Peebles showed unrivalled talent as a child, competing at the Pony Club Open Show Jumping Championships at just ten years old.
Commenting on Team GB’s stunning performances, BHS Chairman Lynn Petersen said: “Today all across the UK there are young people who are learning to ride at a BHS Approved Establishment with BHS Registered Instructors… and one day, some of these riders will represent Great Britain at the Olympics. These Games have indeed inspired a generation.”