Salinero, the horse with whom Anky van Grunsven won two individual Olympic gold medals (in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008), was officially retired in a ceremony at s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, last week.
The 19-year-old Hanoverian gelding played his part in securing team bronze for The Netherlands in London 2012, and in doing so made Anky the most-medalled Olympic rider in history.
Salinero followed in the footsteps of his famous predecessor, Bonfire, Anky’s Olympic gold medallist in Sydney 2000, but he became a star in his own right, winning countless grand prix and helping his rider to become the most prolific winner of the World Cup title. Anky won it nine times over a 13-year period between 1995 and 2008.
The combination were pioneers of the modern freestyle test. Anky was the first rider to commission her own music — the pianist Wibi Soerjadi, who composed their 2008 Olympic medley, “Dances of Devotion”, accompanied the pair during their swansong in front of the crowds on Thursday (14 March).
Despite exuding great power and scope, Salinero was never the easiest of rides. He was a sensitive horse and, especially during the early stages of his grand prix career, could become very tense.
With time Anky learnt how to get the best out of him, although she rarely managed to persuade him to stand still in halt.