Four legs and a good eye – sport

The man riding through the meadows around the healthy town of Lohmolen is clearly in a hurry. Leaning forward, very long reins, the horse runs towards the next obstacle and flies over it. He seems to be doing it all on his own. Of course, that’s exactly what it looks like. In fact, Michael Young, who is on the way to his third National title, recognized the correct distance to the obstacle from afar and simply let the 11-year-old highlight run towards it.

After a 3,810-meter cross-country race, which took 6:41 minutes to ride, he returned home to the showjumping track on Sunday, the only rider in the four-star test to have finished with a dressage score. “I am very relieved that my horse has continued to develop well,” were the mild words the man used to succeed. The silver spot of Dirk Shrad remained at the twelve-year-old Holsteiner Casino. The pair were thus shortlisted for the world championships in mid-September in Pratone del Vivaro, near Rome. The bronze medal went to 2018 world champion Sandra Overt on her second horse, nine-year-old Roseville. He won the five-star test for Schweitzer, Felix Fogg over Colero. The only German player to give up, everyone preferred the four-star test, the German Open.

Young no longer had to look for his horses – they came to him

“He has a good eye, he can see from afar if it fits,” said the riders when they ask themselves what Michael Jong has and don’t have. But this will not be enough. The three-time Olympic, two-time world champion and nine-time European champion has a unique sense of balance and can perfectly train his horses in all three partial tests, dressage, cross-country and vaulting. Michael Jong no longer had to hunt for his horses, they came to him. Only by video, if you wish, the horse owner can upload his four-legged friend towards the Swabian Alb and show it to the Jung family in Horb. Only the best are allowed to survive. Jung won eleven five-star competitions, the hardest category of which there are only a handful in the world. “Mitchie has inspired us all and raised everyone else,” says his rival, American rider William Coleman.

According to Jung, he rides about 50 off-road courses a year, on grass, on sand, uphill, downhill, forward or around many corners. That’s little compared to his rivals from Great Britain, who enter at least two horses per cross-country event. It’s a lot compared to Mahjong’s competitors in their home country. Most of them get no more than twenty off-road launches per year, and sometimes less.

“We have enough good riders, but we have too few horses,” Peter Thomsen says. The 61-year-old has been the national coach for German jockeys since the start of the year. He has 30 years of experience in his position, including team medals at the World and European Championships and two team gold medals at the Olympic Games. One would think that there are enough horses in Germany, there are half a dozen in every pasture along the highway. But those who are suitable for the events are very few. Potential buyers are lining up for them. “A horse with five stars costs a seven-figure sum, and a four-star horse costs a six-figure sum,” says Thomsen. He himself had been trading bush horses for years and also sold well abroad. Now he will try to keep the good horses in the country, he promised.

Successful riders must train young horses over and over again

He can’t blame a rider if he can’t resist a high bid. “Each championship starting, including travel costs, costs around 1,500 euros per horse,” he calculates. “With three horses it costs 4,500 euros and if you win then 500 euros…or find a sponsor to help you.” Riders can be successful for decades, “provided they continue to raise young horses,” says Thomsen. Like Michy or Ingrid Klimk. The three-time European champion won’t start until CHIO Aachen in two weeks, as will Tokyo winner Julia Krajewski and Jung with his Olympic horse Chipmunk. For the upcoming World Cup in Italy, the national coach remains realistic and optimistic. “I don’t think we can beat the Brits at the moment, we are fighting for team silver.” One would assume Michael Jong wants more: a world title.

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