Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester MBE is the holder of more than 65 national dressage titles. We find out what it is like to spend a day on his yard, courtesy of his sponsor Suregrow, well known for their expertise in paddock maintenance and management.
Set in the Gloucestershire countryside, Carl’s picturesque yard is home to his treasured and multi-medal winning dressage horses.
Surrounding the yard is post and railed turnout paddocks where all the horses get to relax and spend some down time after training and competing. Beyond the paddocks are the fields where both the youngsters live and Carl’s retired horses that have helped him to his major successes over the years.
Carl is very fortunate that his yard is supported by a great team who give all the horses the very best care and attention. The team features dressage superstar Charlotte Dujardin and international travelling groom Alan Davies.
There is no such thing as a lie-in at Carl’s and the team are well known for saying he is ‘irritatingly cheerful’ and bouncing with energy first thing in the morning with his mobile ringing and a shout to the dogs he is off to the yard.
The schedule is tight, but not hurried where the horses are concerned. Carl never rushes a schooling session and each horse is worked for as long as is required to achieve the goal Carl has set.
He misses nothing and calls instructions to the others on the team as they school alongside him. The radio plays and quiet concentration fills the air. The afternoons are when Carl teaches his many clients.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: All the horses are worked as below, Alan says:
7.00am – 8.30am. The first thing we do is take round morning feeds, as we go into each stable we make sure the previous nights feed has been eaten, check legs and see there are healthy droppings. After they have eaten we start to muck out, change rugs depending on the temperature and get the first horses ready to go out in the paddocks or on the walker. Carl and Charlotte arrive to start riding at 8.30am so we make sure the first horses are ready.
8.30am – 1.30pm. The yard is swept and we continue to get horses ready for Carl and Charlotte to ride, the team warm up the horses before they are schooled and walk them off, usually down the drive, when they finish, often Carl and Charlotte will hack them round the field together. After work all the horses are bathed and groomed. This is a really busy time with everyone focused to get the horses finished by 1.30pm.
2.30pm – 4pm. After lunch we clean the tack and do all the general yard duties and paddock maintenance.
4pm – 5.30pm. All the horses have a quick groom before night rugs are put on, we start the final tidy of the wash bays and tack room, skip out, sweep the yard, take the hay trolley round and finally evening feeds. The arenas are levelled and we once the tack room is locked we leave to the sound of contented munching.
9.00pm. We take it in turns to do the late night check, a quick look over each stable door to see they are all comfortable and well.
Wednesdays and Saturday: Horses are hacked for an hour.
Sunday: Horses day off. This gives us a day to catch up on other jobs like pulling manes and tails, cleaning the horsebox and all the other jobs that crop up.
We make sure our horses are turned out where appropriate or go on the walker. Our paddocks have benefited greatly from the addition of Suregrow fertiliser.
Suregrow products include Suregrow Fertiliser, CSM, Paddock Grass Seed Mix, Fast Grass, Meadow and Laminitics Grass Mix.
To find out more about the Suregrow range please contact Suregrow on 01423 223045 or visit www.suregrowuk.com