Valegro. The name will go down in history as one of the best dressage horses, ever. Together with rider Charlotte Dujardin and trainer Carl Hester, Team Valegro has broken world records, won Olympic medals and climbed the rungs of the dressage ladder. In short, the horse has become a dressage superstar.
But even our hero horses can't go on forever, and Valegro was retired in December 2016. His departure from competition leaves a void in the dressage world. Some other horse will need to step up to become the next big thing. But make no mistake about it — Valegro's shoes will be very, very difficult to fill.
According to Horse and Hound, when Dujardin first rode Valegro, she was struck by his trainability and his physical power. It's that physical power that makes Valegro such a great dressage horse; he's able to collect his body, but he can also let loose and power down the arena.
All of that power requires some serious fuel, so it's no wonder that Valegro loves food. He's a relatively hot horse, temperament-wise, but doesn't fret over mistakes and is pretty forgiving during training. When he was competing, Valegro was turned out during the summer, like all of the horses in Carl Hester's program. This turnout time may have contributed to the horse's forgiving mentality.
In addition to turnout, Valegro went out on regular hacks. These rides gave him a chance to get out of the arena and to see the sights. It's a great mental break for competition horses, while also helping to build their strength and overall fitness.
Love Valegro? Devastated by the fact that he's retired? We haven't likely seen the last of him yet. Dujardin hopes to bring him to workshops and clinics to do demonstrations, and while his competition days are over, we still may get to see him out and about. After all, he's given us everything a horse could possibly give. What more could we ever ask of him?