What do you get after you finish second in the CHIO Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix Special and third in the Grand Prix and freestyle at age 10? Not a trip to Disney World—a horse probably doesn’t want that anyway—but if you’re Charlotte Dujardin’s mount Imhotep, you get something even better: an all-expenses paid vacation to your lush British field.
About 10 days after Aachen ended, Carl Hester posted a pic of the Dutch Warmblood gelding (Everdale—Della D’Ottie, Vivaldi) he owns with Coral Ingham standing out in his field, with friend Jaguar, on a misty evening.
“Nothing comes before them living the way they are supposed to and what a sight it was!” he wrote.
During the five-star at Aachen—held June 29-July 2 in Aachen, Germany—Dujardin, who started competing the gelding in 2020 and debuted him at international Grand Prix in early 2022, laughed about his notoriously spicy temperament and noted the only way to ensure his sanity—and the sanity of those around him—is to give him plenty of outdoor time.
“He lives in a field all night long because it’s the only way,” said the Olympic gold medalist. “He lives with a friend. That’s how he lives. He’s happy, and he’s much easier. It’s good for his mentality.”
While at a competition the horse doesn’t get his turnout time, and at Aachen Dujardin said managing that is a challenge of its own.
“Here he’s not out, so he gets hotter and hotter. I did say to Alan [Davies, longtime groom], ‘Can you just let him loose out there in that paddock?’ ” she joked. “But no, it’s just something you have to manage. As he’s getting older, he’s getting so much better.
“As a young horse he was very naughty. He bucked everybody off,” she added. “But thankfully, touch wood, he’s good now.”
In addition to securing his own podium placings, Imhotep helped the British team to third in the Lambertz Nations Cup, which takes scores from the Grand Prix and Special, and then came out and did his third-ever Grand Prix CDI freestyle on the final day, scoring an 88.41%. With plenty of energy, of course.
“He did his first freestyle ever at the [ECCO FEI] World Championships [Denmark] last year, and then we had a little practice round at Windsor [England] recently,” said Dujardin, who had some time off earlier this year after having her daughter, Isabella, in March. “I was really, really delighted with his performance because he’s a very young, inexperienced horse. These horses above him are very experienced and have done the World Cup series, and that really does help when you have those horses going in those sorts of atmospheres. There’s so much more to come.”