After being named the first-ranked alternate for the dressage team for the London Olympic Games, Todd Flettrich has chosen to withdraw from consideration and retire Cherry Knoll Farm’s Otto instead.
When the U.S. Equestrian Federation named the nominated entry for the London Olympic Games on June 16, Todd Flettrich and Otto were sixth on the list. They finished fifth in the Olympic selection trials with an average of 71.87 percent, and Steffen Peters’ Ravel received a bye, adding another horse to the list ahead of Otto.
Three riders will go down centerline for the U.S. team at the Olympic Games, as well as an individual rider. Peters will be able to substitute Legolas, his winner from the selection trials, if something happens to Ravel, so the alternate would be there to ride in place of Tina Konyot on Calecto V, Jan Ebeling on Rafalca or Adrienne Lyle on Wizard, the riders ranked second, fourth and fifth respectively on the nominated entry. (Peters was ranked first with Legolas and third with Ravel.)
“In history, none of the alternate horses have ridden for the team,” said Flettrich. “They have enough horses, three and then an individual rider. Our goal was to ride at the Olympics. We thought it was for the best welfare of Otto rather than to take him on the long trip just to hang out and wait.”
Flettrich, 42, and Otto began their partnership in 2009. In 2010, they represented the United States at the Aachen CHIO (Germany) and then on the fourth-placed team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.).
“We figured it was best to move on and retire him. He’s done his job,” said Flettrich. “He’s gotten better with age. He’s at his peak now. He’s 16 years old. He’s very sound. He deserves to retire at his best. I’d hate to see him go downhill.”
Flettrich said that by skipping the Olympic Games, he’ll be able to focus on his students and his business at home and take a break from the travel schedule of international competition. Retiring Otto will also mean the Danish Warmblood gelding (Rambo—Jubel, Rampel) won’t need surgery to repair a paralysis on the left side of his airway, a condition that developed in January of 2012.
Otto will retire at Margaret Duprey’s Cherry Knoll Farm in West Grove, Pa. “He’s going to get brought in and groomed and turned out. He will still be cared for like he is now,” said Flettrich. “He just won’t be competing. Hopefully he’ll go out with Amadeus, my previous Grand Prix horse.
“I appreciate and thank Margaret Duprey for the opportunity,” Flettrich continued. “I hope that we will make the Olympics one day. It’s thanks to her that we’ve had such success.”
This decision has opened the door for the seventh-placed horse-and-rider combination on the nominated entry, Heather Blitz with Paragon. Blitz will travel with the squad to London on July 9 to be in training in England until the final team is announced.
“I’m looking forward to the adventure and being part of the team as much as I’ll get to be,” said Blitz. “I’m pleased that he’ll be able to make this venture into this kind of international competition without necessarily having to be responsible for part of the team score. He’s so young. I’d love to be on the team, but that would put more pressure on him.”
This is the 9-year-old Danish Warmblood’s (Blue Hors Don Schufro—Pari Lord, Loran) first season at Grand Prix. He competed at the small tour level at the Pan American Games (Mexico), where he won team gold and individual silver.
Blitz said her goals would be to train with the team and compete Paragon at some international shows such as Hickstead in Great Britain. “Just to go through the motions, basically,” she said. “To do the international travel, see how everything is. It’s a really great practice run. And also to be waiting in the wings if the team needs me. I’m confident to do that, too.”