Canadian event rider Michele Mueller has retired her 2012 Olympic Games partner Amistad after he sustained an injury on cross-country in London.
The 13-year-old Thoroughbred-Belgian cross gelding completed the cross-country phase with one stop but did not present at the final horse inspection. “After jump 20, it opened up to a very gallopy last half of the course. We lost time, and I wanted to make it up. When I say go, he goes, but he backed off [to some of the gallop fences],” said Mueller.
Mueller thought Amistad had tired during the last part of the course, but “he was quite spry after. He was a handful to bring back to stabling. After icing and bandaging him, my groom took him out for a walk and said he had taken some funny steps,” she said.
A vet check confirmed that Amistad (Ascot Knight—Sleigh Bells) had torn his deep digital flexor tendon, the same injury he incurred two years ago just before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.).
“I was going to retire him after the Olympics,” said Mueller. “He’s run well all spring, and the leg has been holding up well, and I thought I’d finish the Olympics and finish there because I didn’t want to push it anymore.”
Mueller expects Amistad to be sound again but plans on doing dressage with him or possibly having a student compete him at the lower levels. She’d like to keep him at her farm in Port Perry, Ontario, but will wait to see what owner Julie Pring decides. “If he gets to stay with me, maybe I can get him to the Pan Ams in dressage or something! He’s very capable of that,” she joked.
Pring, a student of Mueller’s, started Amistad under saddle, and then Mueller started leasing him in September of 2004. Mueller and Amistad completed their first training level event together in 2005. They finished 10th at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in 2010.
“This horse that I ended up liking very much brought me to the four-star level at Rolex and brought me to represent our team. There really are no words for it,” said Mueller. “It’s just a really emotional feeling that this horse has done this for me, and [I’m] sad that he’s not going to do it again. He owes me nothing, and I owe him everything.”