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Olympic team gold medal-winning event horse to retire at Luhmühlen

German Olympic eventing team gold medallist FRH Butts Leon will be retired in a ceremony at Luhmühlen CCI4* this year (18-21 June).

“Leon is 18-years-old and deserves to be retired while he’s fit and healthy,” said rider Andreas Dibowski. “He has been going strong for 12 years and was the most successful horse I’ve had to date. He looks great and really seems to be enjoying retirement in the fields of his owners, Susanne and Holger Heigel.”

Andreas Dibowski  riding FRH Butts Leon during the dressage at Burghley Horse Trials 2013

Andreas Dibowski riding FRH Butts Leon during the dressage at Burghley Horse Trials 2013

Leon was bred by Friedrich Butt, by the prolific thoroughbred eventing sire Heraldik, out of a mare called Lillian, by another thoroughbred, Star Regent.

Owned by the Butts and Andreas for the early part of his career, he became one of the most successful four-star horses in the world. He finished eighth individually and helped the Germans to team gold at he 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, and also represented Germany at the 2009 European Championships in Fontainebleau and the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

He finished second in three four-stars (Luhmühlen 2009, Pau 2009 and Badminton 2010) before finally taking top spot at Luhmühlen in 2011. He also won three times at three-star level with Andreas.

After his Luhmühlen victory, FRH Butts Leon was bought as part of US-based Thai rider Nina Ligon’s campaign to ride at the London Olympics. The pair won Poplar CIC3* in Georgia in 2012 and finished 41st in London.

Nina Ligon and Butts Leon competing at the London Olympics

Nina Ligon and Butts Leon competing at the London Olympics

After the Games, Susanne and Holger Heigel bought FRH Butts Leon so that he could be reunited with Andreas. In 2013, the pair lay 15th after cross-country at Badminton but the horse was spun at the final trot-up. Later in the year, they finished fourth in the crack CIC3* at Aachen and won Schenefeld CIC3*.

FRH Butts Leon last competed internationally at Pau 2013. In total, he completed nine four-stars in his career and was placed in the top 10 at international events 35 times.

Andreas explained why Luhmühlen is a fitting place for Leon to make his final public appearance: “We won the four-star-competition in Luhmühlen in 2011. It was such a great and moving experience and also our biggest success together. I couldn’t think of a better stage for his last lap of honour.”

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