‘We owe him the chance to retire on a high’: prolific British grand prix horse bows out

  • Rubin Al Asad, one of Britain’s most successful international grand prix dressage horses, has been retired aged 19.

    Owned by the Bechtolsheimer family, the gelding has been the top ride of Lara Butler and a consistent performer at top level since making his international grand prix debut in early 2015.

    The Rubin Royal son, known at home as Rufus, has amassed countless top placings at the highest level of the sport, and was British team reserve for three consecutive championships: the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2017 European Championships and the 2018 World Equestrian Games. 

    “This is a sad decision because Rufus is in such good form, but he doesn’t owe us anything, and we owe him a lot, including the chance to retire on a high,” Lara told H&H

    “Ideally, we would have liked to retire him at Olympia but of course we have been struggling for shows. But it was nice to have the national grand prix championships in December,” she said of the Rubin Al Asad’s final competitive outing, where they scored a fraction under 80% to finish sixth. 

    The pair’s last international result was taking freestyle second with 77.45% at Keysoe CDI3* in October 2020, but Lara says that it was their personal best performance at Olympia in 2019 that is among the highlights of their career together.

    “We scored 81.45% and I just couldn’t believe it. He just gave it his all and that was the best test I have ever ridden on him,” she said. “Getting through to ride the freestyle at Aachen in 2018 is another highlight – watching the videos of that day still gives me goosebumps. 

    “Rufus is so special in so many ways. You don’t find many horses who truly give their all in the arena with you, but he would always put in that extra oomph for me,” she added. “He was the first horse that I trained up to grand prix – and he exceeded all expectations after coming back from a serious back injury as a young horse. He really taught me how to ride a sharp horse, as well as how to have patience. 

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    “He would pick up piaffe out of walk with just a click and loved to passage all around the arena.”

    Rufus will be retired to the field while Lara concentrates on her other grand prix ride, Kristjan, and the upcoming star Amiek C, as well as youngsters. 

    “It will be weird not to have Rufus in the stables, but he will still be getting his beloved banana every day,” Lara said. “He has done five years at the top, and it’s time for the others to have the chance to prove themselves.”

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