Rosie Ricketts, who’s 19 and comes from Ellesmere in Shropshire has the enviable job of looking after – and riding – Michael Jung’s Olympic gold medal winning eventer, Sam. She has evented up to intermediate level and is a working pupil at the Jungs’ yard, near Stuttgart. Michael is the first rider to hold Olympic, world and European titles at the same time.
“I was introduced to the Jungs by a friend, Ken Rehill [owner of the stallion Grafenstolz] and went out to Germany for two months last October. They asked me to stay for a year.
“My job is looking after the horses and working them in for Michael. When Michael’s not here – he’s normally away from Thursday to Sunday competing – we ride Sam and do the fitness work.
“Sam’s lovely; very laid-back and chilled. He goes out in the paddock every day. He was very sharp when he was younger and Michael was the only one that rode him but he’s a good boy now.
“Michael’s got 10 eventers, 10 showjumping horses, three dressage horses and some youngsters. There are five staff; a man who mucks out, Claudia the travelling groom, then two other girls and me.
“Everything in this yard is just so organised and there’s never any stress. It’s nice and peaceful and the horses are all very happy. When we’ve finished working them there’s a bowl of treats and they all get a treat.
“What’s their secret? Michael and Sam have a fantastic bond, plus Michael thinks of absolutely everything. Nothing is left to chance – Sam sometimes gets a bit scared of applause, so Michael will work him in at home with a tape of cheering; every 10 minutes there’s a burst of applause.
“The horses are really fit; during the winter they go on the treadmill for half-an-hour a day in addition to being schooled and they do an hour a day on the treadmill in the summer. And some days the horses will be worked twice.
“Michael’s dad, Joachim – a pure dressage rider – trains him. Michael competes at pure jumping and dressage a lot and that definitely helps [with the eventing]. He goes out competing against pure dressage and jumping riders – and he wins.
“And the facilities are amazing. There’s a course of showjumps on grass and a cross-country course. Michael changes the fences and the courses all the time, so the horses are constantly jumping different courses. He works so hard.”