Olympic Dressage: What do medal winners do next?

13 August 2012

Maybe we Americans have it all wrong. You find out you’ve just been named the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl and what do you shout out to the world about your next move? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJqplzv52w4 I love Disney World as much as you do but if you’re a dressage rider who has just won the Olympic team gold medal, would a trip to Orlando, Florida really be at the top of your list? What’s a dressage rider’s version of Disney World? Spin the globe around and the dressage rider’s map tack would stick firmly in Vienna, Austria. Vienna is home to the Spanish Riding School, the world oldest equestrian institution of advanced horsemanship. It’s the school you enter but, like the Hotel California, you never really leave, since enlightened horsemanship is a lifelong pursuit. And so it is that Carl Hester, kingpin of the British dressage team that won the Gold Medal at London’s Greenwich Park last week, has been announced as a star guest rider in an upcoming performance with the Spanish Riding School when they visit England this fall. How’s that for a fairy tale post script to a gold medal victory? “Life doesn’t get any better than this!? was Carl’s comment when he announced his plans for November. You can excuse Carl if he has a sense of deja vu, he did do a clinic and demonstration ride before the Spanish Riding School performance in London last year. He was accompanied by reigning Paralympic Dressage Gold Medalist Lee Pearson, who will be at his side again. With luck, they’ll both be celebrating gold medals earned in London in 2012. They won’t be just a warmup act this time. In fact, they might upstage the Lipizzaners a bit. The British riders’ giant warmbloods will definitely tower over them and the crowd will be thrilled to see the riders. Carl will perform his gold medal winning performance to the patriotic music–including the unmistakable strains of “God Save the Queen”–that he ?used in the Olympics and also give a masterclass in some of the dressage moves typical of the modern day sport. The Spanish Riding School just might find that their White Ballet is upstaged by the Solid Gold. Details: Three performances, November 16-18, 2012, at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England. ?Visit http://srslondon.co.uk/

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Let’s hope the Spanish Riding School will salute Carl Hester’s gold medal. (Brian Scott photo)