It came as no surprise that Charlotte Dujardin walked away with the Cavalor inter II title at the National Dressage Championships last week (12-15 September), but nonetheless, spectators were left wowed by her winning partner, Gio, who earned 78.34% — believed to be the highest score ever achieved in this class.
The eight-year-old chestnut gelding, who is known as Pumpkin at home, had only done one inter II test before coming to these championships — his only other test this year!
But he pulled out a mature, polished performance with impressively accomplished piaffe-passage work to top the leader board for each of the five judges.
“He is just phenomenal — the bravest little horse and so genuine,” says Charlotte of the compact Apache x Tango gelding.
“Wherever you take him, he is the same and literally does not change.
“At home, I don’t put all the work together like I do for a test because he is still only eight, so I keep it loose and play with it. Then he goes in there like he has done it all his life.”
Charlotte spotted Pumpkin while he was being ridden by Amelie Kovac at a clinic in the USA in autumn 2016.
“As soon as he came in I thought, ‘Oh my god I love that horse’,” she said at the time. “Then I saw him trot and canter and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I really love that horse’.
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After requesting to ride him in a demo the following day, Charlotte asked if he was for sale, and Pumpkin arrived at Carl Hester’s Gloucestershire base shortly afterwards — around Halloween, hence the stable name. On his arrival, both Carl and Charlotte were taken aback by how small he was — he stands just 16hh — but he makes up for it with his natural scope and power.
The plan for the gelding now is to for him to enjoy a holiday, then step up to grand prix.
“He would definitely be a Toyko contender because why not? He isn’t fazed by anything,” says Charlotte.
Don’t miss 19 September issue of Horse&Hound magazine for the full report from the National Dressage Championships.