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November 16, 2010

Sam’s Future With Jung Remains Unclear

German owner Sabine Kreuter, the majority stakeholder in Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games eventing champion La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, promised to return the horse to his rider, Michael Jung, four days ago. The exchange has not taken place, but today, Nov. 16, a judge in Rottweil granted an interim order that "Sam" had to be returned.

On Nov. 8, Kreuter, who owns a 60 percent share of "Sam," removed the horse from rider Michael Jung’s equestrian center in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and took him about three hours away, to her barn in Bavaria.

Kreuter notified Jung, the 40 percent owner of Sam, of the move later by phone, and a few days later she agreed to bring him back on Nov. 12. According to the Jungs, she called on Nov. 14 to say she wouldn't return him, in spite of a contract that guarantees that the horse will be at Michael's disposal and not sold without the family's agreement through Dec. 31, 2010. Lawyers for both parties are meeting to work out a potential sale to the supporters of the Jung family.

“I told [Kreuter] that, from the side of FBW, the supporters of the horses bred in Baden-Württemberg, and of the DOKR, the German Olympic Equestrian Committee, people would like to speak with her to find a solution that she would sell the horse, and we could keep him for Michael at least to ride through the 2012 Olympics," said Michael's father, Joachim Jung.

“We can even imagine a solution which would pay her some money now and more after 2012,” he added. “We are open to all possible solutions if Michael can keep the horse, or if she has better offers to sell him, but in a clear and straightforward way.”

According to Jung’s father Joachim Jung, “Sam” arrived at their Jung Equestrian Center in 2005 as a 5-year-old. Six months later, they entered a contract with Kreuter stating that they would pay the horse’s expenses in exchange for 40 percent ownership of Sam and any prize money he won. Kreuter had bought him as a 2-year-old at a stallion auction for 8,000 euro.

“Of course, in the beginning nobody could know how successful the horse would become,” Joachim said. “As Sam became more and more successful, it became more and more complicated, and the [relationship] existed in the past two years mainly by phone.”

The Jung family decided that it was more important to them that Michael, who also finished third with Sam in the 2009 European Championships, keep the horse for the 2012 Olympic Games than that they accept the 400,000 euro of a one million euro sale that was supposed to take place. While still in Kentucky for the WEG, a pool of German sponsors, including Madeleine Winter-Schulze, offered Kreuter 600,000 euro for her share of Sam. But she refused the offer, saying she had an offer of two million euros, although not stating a name or bringing anyone to try the horse.

Since he was taken from their barn in Horb, Germany, the Jung family has been concerned about the welfare of the horse.

“He has several specific requirements, which have to be taken care about,” said Joachim. “He is still following a certain training plan to work him off. He always receives a special feeding, which Sabine Kreuter does not know about. On Nov. 9, he would have had a date with the blacksmith, and he must be very careful not to take too much hoof away, as the horn is very thin. He also needs a special saddle pad, because he has two spots on his back which are thickened.”

Kreuter’s website states that she is giving Sam a well-deserved holiday at her place and that she would still be negotiating with the sponsors of the Jung family about Sam’s sale in hopes of finding an agreement.

“Although her action is very hard to understand, I believe it must be the influence of third parties over her, who try to make her believe that she can’t trust us and that it would be easy to sell Sam for more than a million euro,” Joachim said. “But clearly he is no stallion, and the prizes for eventers are still not the same as for dressage horses or show jumpers. With her behavior now she risks that she will have no money at all in the end.”