Imagine the scenario – you’re a script writer pitching a storyline to Mr Spielberg. He’s looking for an inspiring, tear-jerking box office hit that will touch the nation’s hearts and pull in even more dosh than War Horse.
You’ve got it. Your heroine is a pony-mad girl who comes from an ordinary background. Her Mum encourages her every step of the way, but can’t compete, financially, with the super-rich parents who spend mega-money on competition ponies.
Eventually, after a lot of hard work, your heroine ends up working for her hero. He’s an international dressage star and recognises that our girl has a special talent. Being generous – because he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, either – he teaches her everything he knows.
In the ultimate act of generosity, he gives her the ride on a horse most trainers would have kept for themselves, because he thinks they are a partnership made in heaven. Fast forward to 2014 and after various dramatic interludes, our heroine and her four-legged star make history by claiming Olympic, European and World gold medals in the same year.
Actually, it isn’t a storyline, but you’ve already guessed that. It’s real life, because Charlotte Dujardin and the impossibly fantastic Valegro have just done it.
If you’ve seen them powering round that arena in Normandy to the specially adapted music from How To Train Your Dragon, the memory will bring tears to your eyes. If you haven’t, go and find it online now; just make sure you have a box of tissues handy.
Aren’t we privileged to have seen this partnership grow and develop? No one needs to tell Charlotte how lucky she is; she already knows, just as she knows how much she owes to Carl.
The flipside of this dream story is that of poor Harry Meade and Peter and Charlotte Opperman, the owners of Wild Lone. The horse collapsed and died after completing a cross-country round that looked full of running.
For Harry to lose his horse after making such a brave comeback after the fall that left him with both elbows shattered – and after completing a cross-country round where no one saw any signs of anything going wrong – is cruel in the utmost. Don’t forget that these horses have the best of care and the best veterinary attention all the way through training and in competition. A post mortem will perhaps establish the cause of death, but it won’t take away the heartbreak.
Perhaps we should all remember that we’re privileged to have our horses for a limited time. Let’s make the most of them, whether they are world class competitors or family friends.
Oh, and isn’t it about time someone gave Carl Hester a knighthood? “Arise, Sir Carl” – it has a great ring to it.