German eventer Michael Jung has officially retired his triple Olympic gold-medal winning mount La Biosthetique-Sam FBW from competition.
“I had decided before the whole season that this [would be] the last season,” said Jung. “When I [went] into competition, [I didn’t have] the pressure. It was just for fun, and every [additional] competition that I can do, I really enjoy.”
Jung had planned to run “Sam” (Stan The Man xx—Halla, Heraldik xx) at CHIO Aachen (Germany) in July, but a pulled shoe led to soundness issues, and Jung ultimately withdrew the 18-year-old German Warmblood.
Jung’s long career with Sam will go down as one of the most storied partnerships in eventing history. The pair made a splash in their four-star debut together at Luhmühlen (Germany) by winning in 2009. That same year they claimed the FEI World Cup Final (Poland). From there it seemed like Sam and Jung could never lose, as they went on to win team and individual gold at the 2011 European Championships in Luhmühlen, individual gold at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, and back-to-back individual gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as Olympic team gold and silver respectively. Sam won the Land Rover Burghley CCI**** (England) in 2015 and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton CCI**** (England) the next year, which, along with his stablemate fischerRocana’s Rolex Kentucky CCI**** win in 2016, earned Jung the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
Throughout their impressive career, Jung completed eight four-stars with Sam, finishing in the top three at seven of them. In their final four-star run in May at Badminton Sam placed 10th.
“He was always [willing] to work,” said Jung. “He was not a very fantastic horse from the beginning, but he was always learning and getting better and better every season, every wintertime. I had him from really young, like at 5 years. I think that makes us a very good partnership. I know everything [about] him. I know how I have to prepare him, how I can make some situations easier for him.”
Sam will remain at Jung’s stable in Horb-Altheim, Germany, and will continue in light work throughout his retirement.
“He’s in the normal rhythm, with the food and the training. [He will have] a bit less training, but he’s in the normal rhythm, so that means we’re not just putting him in the field,” said Jung. “We’ll take care of him; we’ll do everything that he had before with the physio and all the stuff.”
Jung himself will be out of the tack for five to six weeks with a broken arm due to a fall with 7-year-old Hanoverian Choclat at the FEI WBFSH World Breeding Eventing Championships in Le Lion d’Angers (France).
“When I went cross-country, the sun was really down, and the jump was in the shadow,” explained Jung. “It was a big ditch with some green [brush] inside, and my feeling was that the horse didn’t really understand the jump or the situation. It was not that the horse was bad or something; it was just a misunderstanding in this situation.”
While he heals, Jung will spend his time organizing things around his barn and teaching extra lessons.