It’s a rare experience to meet two Olympic gold medallists, both of whom are in fierce competition with each other and yet manage to share a yard and the most famous dressage horse in the world.

On arrival at the base they share, we are offered tea whilst watching Carl Hester train several riders in the indoor school, while Charlotte Dujardin finishes her monthly sports massage in the room that houses her saddles and equipment.

After emerging from the tack room, she explained apologetically: “I’ve had back problems for years."

“I used to ride 10 horses a day but I’m now down to eight as I can get quite sore,” she sighed, as if the feat is below-par.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro are chasing further glory in Normandy

Dujardin is nominated for BT Sport's Action Woman of the Year Award

It is this diligence and determination, together with extraordinary talent, that have made the impossible possible for Dujardin. The girl from Enfield, whose father re-mortgaged the house to give his daughter a starting chance, has since won every world title on offer, two Olympic medals and broken every world record going.

Five years ago Dujardin had not even ridden a Grand Prix test. This year alone has seen her win the World Cup Final, break the Grand Prix world record and win two individual gold medals and a team silver in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“I’ve had an amazing year but the Games were the highlight for me,” said Dujardin.

“The reception I got when I entered the arena was amazing. It sent shivers down my spine. The atmosphere helps. Valegro and I definitely rise to the occasion. This is something that you dream of doing and when it actually comes together, it is an incredible feeling.”

I had achieved more than I could believe in London but when it all finished it was a massive comedown."

Charlotte Dujardin

Dujardin’s meteoric rise to success was never going to be trouble-free, but it’s her ability to cope with pressure both inside and outside the dressage arena that make her a champion.

After success in her first year at Grand Prix level she was selected for the British team at the European championships, where they won team gold to put Britain on the dressage map.

Then came the dream of competing at the Olympics, followed by the dream of winning them. Then press, publicity, interviews and trips to London for the girl whose day job was riding horses all day on a farm in Gloucestershire.

Prospective purchasers homed in on Valegro with sky-high offers and the fate of the formidable partnership looked doomed.

Reality cracked, the bubble burst and the pressure ended her relationship with her fiancée Dean.

“I had achieved more than I could believe in London but when it all finished it was a massive comedown,” she explained.

“I had the prospect of Valegro being sold and, whilst I felt really lucky to have had him, I was riding every test thinking - this could be the last time.

“There was all this media attention and Dean said the newspapers knew more about me than he did. That put a huge strain on our relationship. It was a really difficult time.”

Dujardin is now back with Dean and admits her partner is desperate to start a family but knows he must wait.

She said: “After Rio I would like to have children but my goal now is to keep winning medals. There will never be another Valegro - he’s one in a million - but if I could create a little bit of what I have with him with another horse that would be a huge thing."

Formidable partnership

Dressage is a team sport; not just a competition between one rider and another, or when the British team takes on the German team. It involves the tightest team of all, the team of horse and rider. That means Dujardin, Valegro and in this case it also means Hester.

It was Hester that found Valegro as a two-year-old unbroken horse and sold a share to Roly Luard to help fund him.

It was Hester who discovered and nurtured Dujardin’s talent and it was Hester who turned down multi-million pound offers for the horse.

Not only did he choose not to break up the formidable partnership of girl and horse for financial gain, nor did he reclaim the horse for personal glory.

Hester is also a competitor and, before the arrival of Dujardin, was the country’s most successful dressage rider.

“Charlotte started riding Valegro when he was five. I knew I had one of the best horses in Valegro so I kept saying ‘I’m going to do it now’ but Charlotte just got better and better and eventually I gave in," he said.

Winning combination: Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro

Dujardin was delighted to retain her partnership with Valegro

So what does Hester think gives Dujardin the edge?

“There are lots of talented riders out there but it’s the grit, determination, it’s never giving up and also confidence. When you’re really confident with your horse, which Charlotte is, that is what makes you a winning partnership," said Hester.

Dujardin’s summary of their relationship? “Carl and I are like a married couple - without the extra bits!"

“Thank goodness for that!” interjected Hester, averting his eyes skywards as they continued teasing each other. “We help each other but I don’t know if anyone’s been taught by a woman. I say ‘please’, she says ‘do it now!’”

“Working together could be difficult as I am a competitor as well as a trainer. But you can see we laugh together, we train together. We work to high standard and motivate each other every day. Neither of us would have been so successful without each other.”

I had a lot of tantrums and said ‘You must not sell him!'"

Charlotte Dujardin

In a time when top dressage horses are commanding high prices as Rio 2016 beckons, will Hester be tempted to accept a life-changing amount for Valegro?

“No. I managed to convince Carl to keep him,” Dujardin stated before Hester interrupted in mirth: “I’m not sure if convince is the right word.”

Dujardin continued the joke: “Yes, I had a lot of tantrums and said ‘You must not sell him!’”

"The offers were tempting but the bond was so strong between all of us that we just couldn’t," explained Hester. “We hope he’ll retire here and get fat like the rest of us and live happily ever after in one of our fields. It is a perfect ending.

“Although he is only 12 years old and Charlotte is only 29. That’s a really young combination, they could go on winning gold medals for a very long time.”

To see the rest of the BT Sport Action Woman of the Year nominees, click here.