Book Review: Valegro-Champion Horse by Carl Hester

We will be watching Valegro this coming week in Rio. He will be there to defend his titles and his record scores.  I think there will be fans all over the world wishing him well in this quest. This book, ‘Valegro’ by Carl Hester, is an enjoyable read. When I first picked it up I thought:   “Oh…it’s just a smallish coffee table book. Oh well, I’m a fan of Valegro so I’ll get it anyway.” It turned out to be much more interesting than a smallish coffee table book.

First of all it is not just Carl Hester talking about Valegro. This book has reflections and insights from many other people in the dressage world. Here is a quote from Stephen Clarke’s thoughts on Valegro. “It’s funny—I remember being wildly impressed by Valegro in a young horse class but saying to Carl, ’Good luck with collecting that canter’. He also said that he feels Valegro has no weaknesses and everything is a highlight.

It was not always clear that Valegro would be a world champion. At the two year old KWPN stallion testing Valegro was not a stand out although he stood out to Carl Hester. He had “the head of a duchess and the bottom of a cook.  He certainly wasn’t flashy and he was small but he was strong and he had a great canter and a great attitude. And he wasn’t expensive, so I made the decision to buy him. “

Vet Rob Cnockaert has contributed to the veterinary care of Carl’s horses for many years.  He has known Valegro since he was a youngster. “Little did I know the vast range of emotions through which this unassuming, generous little horse would take me in the years to come.”

Haydn Price, Valegro’s farrier sees Valegro as a “person”. “The memory that stands out for me is not his tests, but when he walked out of the arena. It is as if he is saying ‘Thanks for coming, thank you for watching.” That beautiful face has no comprehension of how good he is. So outside the arena he is “Bob the cob’. He’s my mate.”

And of course the world now knows Alan Davies, Valegro’s groom. He also rides Valegro.” I hack him every morning before he works with Charlotte and Carl in the school. He loves to check out what’s happening in the neighbours’ farms and likes to stop and see the cows, especially when they have calves. I always chat to him: he’s a great listener and will always put a smile on your face no matter how bad a day you are having.”

I think the reflections from the various people who have been part of Valegro’s life reveal a side of Valegro that we do not see in the show ring. The collection of pictures ranging from Valegro as a foal to his current stardom is also wonderful.

If you are interested in the personal story about this wonderful world champion horse then this book is for you.

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