Double Olympic gold medal-winning horse dies aged 25: ‘He was a little fighter with a huge heart’

  • Double Olympic team gold medallist FRH Butts Abraxxas has died at the age of 25.

    In a post on her Facebook page, rider Ingrid Klimke said “Braxxi” was “still fit and cheerful, but an acute heart failure caused by age forced us not to let him suffer”.

    She described him as a “little fighter with a huge heart”, who gave “countless moments of happiness”.

    Braxxi was retired after finishing fourth at Burghley Horse Trials in 2013 and he showed Ingrid’s daughter Greta the ropes of moving from ponies to horses before enjoying full retirement in “box number one” and out at grass with his “best friend” Weisse Düne.

    “We are very sad and miss him! Braxxi, you will always have a special place in our hearts,” said Ingrid.

    Bred by Friedrich Butt by the prolific thoroughbred Heraldik, Braxxi joined Ingrid as an eight-year-old, after being spotted by German team trainer Chris Bartle and chef d’equipe Hans Melzer. At one point he was nearly sold to Hong Kong, but his future with Ingrid was secured when he was bought by Madeleine Winter-Schulze, who owned him with Ingrid and Andreas Busacker.

    FRH Butts Abraxxas won team gold for Germany at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, as well as at the 2011 European Championships. His best individual championship placing was fifth at the 2008 Olympics and he was also 10th at the 2007 Europeans, 11th at the 2011 Europeans and 13th at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. He represented Germany at all six senior championships between 2007 and 2012.

    He was also placed at four-star (now five-star) level, adding second at Luhmühlen in 2010 and 16th at Badminton 2013 to fourth, on his retirement run, at Burghley. He won twice at CCI3* (now CCI4*-L) level, at Vairano in Italy in 2012 and Strzegom in Poland in 2007. In all, Ingrid and Braxxi finished in the top 10 at three- or four-star level (now four- or five-star level) 20 times.

    FRH Butts Abraxxas was known as an unreliable performer in the showjumping, which led to heartbreak on more than one occasion. He lost the individual gold at the European Championships in 2011 with six fences down and Ingrid elected not to showjump him for an individual place in the second round at the London Olympics.

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