British show jumper Nick Skelton, who won individual gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and team gold at the 2012 London Olympics, has announced his retirement—and the retirement of his partner for those achievements, Big Star.
“I have always stated that when Big Star finished I would too,” Skelton told Horse & Hound. “This sport has given me more than I could ever have hoped over the past 43 years, and it is such a difficult decision to make, but I’m not getting any younger, and it is nice for the two of us to end on the highest note possible.”
The pair will officially retire at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in England on Sunday, May 14.
Big Star, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Quick Star—Jolanda, Nimmerdor) owned by Gary and Beverley Widdowson and Oliver Robertson, will now focus on his second career in the breeding shed.
Skelton, 59, and Big Star have been a team since the horse was 5. The stallion had several injury setbacks along the way.
“It’s taken a lot of work and a lot of people’s time, but I always knew in the back of my mind if we could get him right again and keep him right he could do this, because he’s an absolutely amazing horse,” said Skelton after winning gold in 2016. “He wants to do it; he has all the right attributes. For me, he’s the best horse I’ve ever had and am likely to ever have.”
Skelton sustained his own injuries, breaking his neck and snapping a ligament that tore part of his spine in a fall in 2000. He also underwent a hip replacement in 2011.
“Thank you to all the incredible friends and fans for your support—we are truly appreciative and humbled,” Skelton told Horse & Hound. “Thank you to all of my owners and sponsors throughout my career—I couldn’t have done it without you. And lastly, thank you to all the horses I’ve ridden—you have provided me with opportunities I could never have imagined.”