It’s evident. Equitation scientists love Valegro.

Valegro, ridden by Charlotte Dujardin of the United Kingdom, who’s coached by Carl Hester, also of the U.K., is the new poster child of equitation science.

What’s so great about this magnificent 12-year-old gelding that catches the eye of pretty much every equitation scientist out there? Well, I mean, of course, besides the seemingly endless streak of gold medals and greater-than-90% Grand Prix dressage scores?

Actually, that’s just it. Valegro is—whether his trainers realize it or not—a product of equitation science. A true success story of learning theory at its finest. And the judges are rewarding him for it.

It’s a win-win for all.

So what is it that’s pleasing both researchers and judges? In the end, it’s quite simple, really. It all boils down to lightness and a clearly happy horse.

Because, when Valegro moves, he moves willingly. He moves freely. He moves as though this is what he was meant to do, as if this dressage test is every bit his idea of time well spent as anyone else’s.

And Dujardin almost looks like she’s just come along for the ride.

Obviously, that’s not true. We know she’s an athlete who’s working hard mentally and physically to keep good communication and connections going with her mount. But the point is that it looks like she’s just a lovely decoration on top of this lovely horse who seems to be doing everything as though he choreographed the freestyle patterns himself. They're an ultimate team, a unified image of harmonious co-being, and a