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British equestrian dressage team for the 2012 Olympics
Team GB are one of the favourites to win gold medals at the dressage event in the equestrian section of the 2012 Olympics in London.
The riders will be competing on their home turf at the equestrian stadium in Greenhich Park, East London, and will have an advantage over other competitors.
The British dressage team will be hoping to build on their success at the World Equestrian Games in 2010 where they took home three silver medals. This included a team silver and two individual silvers.
The team of four seasoned dressage riders are now widely tipped to place in the medals at the Olympics. They are one of Great Britains strogest hopes.
Team GB equestrian includes forur of the best riders in the world. They are:
- Carl Hester
- Laura Bechtolsheimer
- Charlotte Dujardin
- Emile Faurie
Carl will be riding his much-loved horse Uthopia at the 2012 Olympics. The pair have excelled in 2011 and won a dressage Grand Prix.
Carl began dressage riding in 1983 and won the 1985 National Young Rider Championship only 18 months after starting the discipline. He had previously competed to a high level in show jumping and eventing.
Carl's potential from a young age was clear to see and throughout his career, Carl has celebrated 44 national dressage titles and won the British Dressage National Champion five times.
Carl has already competed in three Olympics and he will be familiar with the atmosphere. He was the highest place British combination at the Athens Olympics in 2004. He was also part of the team that won silver at the World Equestrian Games in 2010 in Kentucky.
Carl is one of the most well-known personalities in the horse riding industry. He rides and trains horses at his yard in Gloucester and has been linked on a friendship level to celebrity horse rider Katie Price.
Laura Bechtolsheimer will be riding her horse Mistral Hojris at London 2012. In 2011 she has won a string of dressage Grand Prixs. She is ranked World number 2 and Britian's number 1 Dressage Rider.
She is one of the best dressage riders in Britain and widely known among the equestrian community. When she was just 20 years in 2005 old Laura was the youngest rider to win the British National Championship.
Laura started riding when she was three years old and made her debut for the British senior team in 2006 at the World Equestrian Games and in 2007 she rode Mistral Hjoris in the European Championships.
Laura was part of the team that won silver at the World Championships in 2010 and she also won d individual silver in both the GPS and GPF.
The experienced rider comes from a well-known equestrian family. Her father Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer was on team GB in 1995 at the European Championships.
Charlotte Dujardin is riding her horse Valegro in 2012. She is one of the least experienced of Team GB's dressage riders having only taken part in her first Grand Prix in January 2011 which she won on Valegro.
Charlotte says that the first time she competed was when she was four or five years old and lead ponies on a lead rein at her local riding school.
She left school when she was 16 and had lots of success in equetrian competitions, winning Horse of the Year Show four times and Hickstead three times.
She currently lives in Gloucester, England, where she works alongside one of her horse heroes Carl Hester at his yard. Charlotte has also coached Mark Todd with his flatwork after he approached her to ask for lessons. Mark won Badminton in 2011having been trained by Charlotte for three years.
Emile Faurie is the oldest and most experienced of the riders on the British Dressage team at the London 2012 Olympics. He will be riding his horse Elmegardens Marquis who he has owned sine 2010 and won several major competitions with.
Some of Emiles biggest acheivements in his equestrian career have been winning individual bronze and team silver at the 1993 European Championships. Emile followed this up with British Championship wins in 1993 and 1994.
Emile has competed at two previous Olympic Games in addition to three World Equestrian Games and three European Championships.
He says that the first time he rode was when he was 16 after his parents gave him a riding lesson as a birthday present. Emile later moved to England in 1980 and enrolled at the Talland School of Equitation.
During his equestrian career Emile has also worked as a model, a riding techer and done some work as an actor in commercials. He currintly lives in Oxfordhsire, England.
What is dressage?
Dressage is a form of equestrian competition in which all the riding is done on the flat ground. The idea is that through training the horse learns how to perform different movements. Dressage is the frnech word for training.
Many of these manouvres can look very elagant and at times it is almost like the horse is dancing. Sometimes dressage is called 'horse ballet'. Moves include the shoulder in, travers, piaffe and passage, pirouette, half-pass and flying change.
Dressage taps into more of the horse's natural athletic ability and greatly strengthens their muscles and improves their balance. The horses become very strong after training and often have powerful necks and hind quarters.
At the Olympics, there are three equestrian disciplines. These are dressage, eventing and showjumping while the Paralympic Games has para-equestrian dressage.
Competitions - known as dressage tests - are carried out in a 60m x 20m riding areana. Riders are scored on a set of movements. However, in the dressage freestyle competition riders choose their own routine and the music that it is coreographed to.