Royal Kaliber, the horse ridden to an individual bronze and team silver by American rider Chris Kappler at the Olympics in August, has been put down in Holland. The stallion had failed to recover following colic surgery at the end of September.

The 12-year-old was one of three horses to obviously break down during the show jumping. He sparked controversy when left the arena on three legs during the jump off for the individual silver and bronze medals. Although the prognosis was good, a decision had been made to monitor him in Europe before shipping him back to the US.

He had been suffering from recurring bouts of colic since the conclusion of the Olympics, but vets had been anxious to avoid surgery. Two weeks ago, it became apparent that surgery to repair intestinal adhesions would be required, and following the operation, Royal Kaliber had been recovering well.

However, last week, the stallion had shown significant deterioration. “His discomfort began at noon [on Thursday] and by [Friday] morning, it was obvious we would need to go in surgically for another look,” explained Dr Tim Ober, a United States Equestrian Federation vet.

“We found more adhesions in the intestine that were not repairable. We had no options since we would have had to leave him with a gastro-intestinal tract that was insufficient, therefore we had no choice but to do the humane thing and euthanise him.”

The 12-year-old stallion has dazzled on many-an-occasion in recent years. Last year he won individual silver and team gold at the Panam games, and he was a regular feature in the line-up at international fixtures. His performance in Athens was without question, however, the highlight of his career.

He could stand to be posthumously awarded the individual silver medal, and his performance as part of the US team could yet earn them a gold medal because of the current furore surrounding the equestrian events in Athens.

Both individual gold medallist Cian O’Connor’s ride Waterford Crystal and team gold-medallist Ludger Beerbaum’s ride Goldfever tested positive for banned substances at the Olympics, and face having their medals revoked.

In spite of the controversial circumstances, an Olympic gold would be a fitting honour to crown a glittering career.

  • Condolences for the Kapplers and Kamines (Royal Kaliber’s owners) may be sent via e-mail to royalkaliber@usef.org