Top event horse retires from competition

  • Ingrid Klimke has retired her double Olympic team gold medallist FRH Butts Abraxxas, one of the great event horses of the past decade.

    “I have often wondered when the right time would be to do less with you and I had secretly hoped that you would give me a sign,” the German wrote in an open letter to the 16-year-old gelding published on her website.

    “You have been as fresh and motivated as ever this season — there are no other German pair who have completed Burghley in the top 5. There are only 6 4-star tests in the world, of which you have completed 4 successfully, and we’re not making the trip to Australia. Dear Braxxi, now the time is right — time for new tasks.”

    Bred by Friedrich Butt by the prolific thoroughbred Heraldik, Braxxi joined Ingrid as an 8-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.

    The pair went on to compete for the German team at 6 championships in a row from 2007 to 2012, winning team gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as well as the 2011 Europeans. Their best individual championship results were 11th at the 2011 Europeans, 13th at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, 5th at the 2008 Olympics and 10th at the 2007 Europeans.

    This year Ingrid and Braxxi finished 16th at Badminton and 5th at Burghley. In all they finished in the top 10 at 3- or 4-star level 20 times.

    The horse excelled in the dressage — he led after the first phase at the 2011 Luhmühlen Europeans with a score of 30 (80%) — and has been strong across country bar the odd blip, but the showjumping was his weakness. He lost the individual gold in 2011 with 6 down and Ingrid elected not to showjump him for an individual place in the 2nd round at London.

    Ingrid’s letter went on: “Dear Braxxi, I owe you countless memorable moments of pure happiness… So often you have touched my heart. You gave me your boundless faith… We are a wonderful team and can always rely on each other.

    “The jumping is not your strength — often I was very disappointed. But every horse in my life has a purpose: from you I’ve learned that you have to accept some facts and then can live with them.

    “Braxxi, I thank you for it, because I take my experience with you with me on my way forward as a person and rider. I always have my father’s words in my ear: ‘We want to capture the essence of the horse, make and not suppress his personality in training!’ You’re a really great horse personality and will always remain for me!”

    Braxxi will stay in work, hunting and riding out with Ingrid and her barn manager Carmen Thiemann — who rides him bareback with just a neckstrap — as well as acting as a schoolmaster.

    He will have an official retirement ceremony at the German CCI4* at Luhmühlen next year.

    Ingrid’s letter (in German)

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