US showjumper Mclain Ward has retired his two-time Olympic gold-medal winning partner Sapphire.

Mclain has ridden 17-year-old “Sara” for 10 years and they have competed in two Olympics, two World Equestrian Games, six World Cup finals and numerous grands prix.

Sapphire strained a check ligament in March 2011 and was out of action for the rest of the season.

But she returned to competition and was long-listed for the 2012 Olympics – which would have been her third Games.

Then in January this year Mclain had to undergo surgery for a fractured kneecap.

The decision was made earlier this week to retire her.

Mclain wrote on Facebook: “While it is the end of her incredible career, I refuse to be sad. Sara is retiring healthy, happy and at her best.”

Sapphire and Mclain won team gold at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.

The pair were at the centre of an investigation for hypersensitivity of the legs in the 2010 World Cup jumping final, but their elimination was later overturned.