Our hugely popular series 'At Home with Carl Hester' charted the background and daily life of one of the UK's most loved riders. The series of five programmes charts the day-to-day life of Carl, providing insights into his background, his spectacular facilities, his team, and his amazing horses. Discover more about the man that every British dressage fan hopes could bring home a medal in 2012. We will also be filming a follow-up two-part series, "Carl and Charlotte: Dressage Superstars", which will air in May 2012 exclusively on Horse & Country TV Sky Channel 280.
Carl was raised on the tiny Channel island of Sark, an island with no cars – so horses are very much part of daily life. It is no surprise that Carl learnt to ride, and his first mount was a donkey that Carl would ride to the village shop!
The donkey was followed by a string of ponies and horses. Many led a double life, pulling carriages in the day and becoming gymkana ponies for the local kids on their days off. Carl, like most kids raised on Sark, drove carriages for tourists in school holidays as a way to earn pocket money.
At 19 Carl had no ambition or aspirations, but with no jobs on Sark and winter coming he decided to apply for a job on the mainland. Through an advertisement in Horse & Hound, Carl arrived at the Fortune Centre in Hampshire, where adults with learning and physical disabilities are given a sense of freedom and achievement through riding. It was there Carl had his first opportunity to compete and it was on the Fortune Centre's skewbald mare, Jolly Dolly, that Carl won the 1985 Young Dressage Rider Championship.
His next job took him to the Gloucestershire village of Bourton on the Hill and the farm of Jannie and Christopher Taylor. Here he would go on to compete at his first Blenheim Horse Trials, and won the Spillers Dressage with Jumping Championship.
Carl's career took the most dramatic turn when Dr Bechtolsheimer approached him to join his yard as a rider. He rode and trained there for three and a half years, and in 1990 went to the World Championships on Rubelit von Unkenriff, the European Championships in 1991 and in 1992 the Barcelona Olympics on Georgioni – making him the youngest British rider to ever compete in an Olympic Games.
On leaving Dr Bechtolsheimer's yard, Carl went into a business partnership with Kate Carter at her yard at Stow on the Wold. This continued until Kate decided to move for more space for her stud activities and soon Carl too had moved to buy his own yard in Gloucestershire.
With his former top horse Escapado, Carl had success at National, European and Olympic level. In 200- he won his first team medal, silver at the European Championships with Liebling II, a feat that was repeated at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
Last year was an extremely successful year for Carl, who won team gold at the European Championships, as well as two individual silvers on his talented Olympic prospect Uthopia.