byKristin Stine| Jan 22, 2018
When it comes to front-running international show jumping partnerships, Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z need little introduction. After taking over the ride from his wife Judy-Ann Melchior in 2009, Ahlmann & Taloubet quickly became one of the sport’s most recognizable pairs, accruing multiple career wins in Paris, Estoril, Verona, Madrid and Geneva. They’ve since appeared in four FEI World Cup Jumping Finals as well as the 2016 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final, which they won. They also placed 1st at the 2012 IJRC Top Ten Final in Geneva, and were part of the bronze medal-winning German team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Yet for their many accolades, it seems unlikely that any will overshadow Ahlmann and Taloubet’s performance this Sunday: a win in the Longines FEI World Cup Grand Prix of Leipzig CSI5*-W during the final outing of Taloubet Z’s showjumping career. As they rounded the corner galloping toward the last fence of the jump-off round, the crowd were already on their feet, roaring their approval of one of the finest modern competitors in the sport and his superstar horse, who, at age 18, was putting on a master class on the kind of scope, speed, and precision that could—and did—rival top horses half his age.
That the pair, who were last to go in the jump-off, should have had the win came as little surprise to those who have followed their partnership together over the last nine years. In that stands, Ahlmann’s wife, Judy-Ann Melchior, holding back joyful sobs, demonstrated the emotion that Taloubet Z’s many fans were feeling too.
In a sport so full of highs and lows, could anything be better than a final send-off worthy of a stallion who has earned his place in the show jumping history books?
Here, 20 things you might not know about Christian Ahlmann & Taloubet Z:
- Despite the blood and energy he demonstrates in the ring, Christian says Taloubet Z is actually quite quiet in the barn- “almost too quiet”.
- There was a brief time where Taloubet Z was scared of water jumps.
- Ahlmann, a previous World No. 1, started riding when he was 11 years old. A year later, he won his first show jumping competition. Can we say #skills?
- His international debut was at the European Championships in 1989 at the tender age of 15. That means Ahlmann attended the European Championships only four years after he started riding.
- Taloubet was bred in Schoorl in the Netherlands by the distinguished breeder C.T. Klaver. Klaver also bred Olympic Individual gold medalist Nick Skelton’s jumping phenom Big Star.
- Ludger Beerbaum considers Christian one of the coolest riders out there. “You don’t find any guys more cool than him. I think his heart doesn’t start beating until he goes in the jump off.”
- Judy-Ann Melchior and Taloubet were having trouble clicking in the ring, so Christian took over the ride in 2009 and shortly after won the CSI4* Grand Prix in Hannover.
- Some of Ahlmann’s hobbies include playing football, driving in trotting races, riding his motorcycle, and collecting whisky.
- He and Judy-Ann say that they enjoy competing together because there is a greater chance that one of them will win. Christian has said that when his wife was pregnant and not riding, his show results were poor.
- Christian has described Taloubet Z as an extremely powerful horse with a bit of a flat canter. Luckily, Ahlmann’s often said that the stallion’s stride is quite adjustable and flexible.
- Watching this impressive stallion compete, even once, there are no questions about his capability and scope. Christian has said, “There is no distance or fence where I’m worried that he can’t do it.”
- Christian used to work with trotters and had his license. He has won 25 races in his short trotting career.
- There is the showjumping “bug” throughout Ahlmann’s family. His wife Judy-Ann represented Belgium at both the 2006 and 2010 World Equestrian Games, and his brothers Dirk and Phillip and father Georg all rode nationally.
- Taloubet Z is a fairly long-bodied horse, so Christian really focuses on collection in his flat work.
- At four years old, Christian fell into a swimming pool and almost drowned.
- He was the youngest rider to be presented with the German riding award, the Goldene Reitabzeichen (translated as the “Golden Riding Badge”) when he was 14 years old.
- An 18-year-old KWPN, Taloubet Z is by the Selle Francais stallion, Galoubet A, one of the most influential stallions in the history of show jumping, producing such horses as Baloubet du Rouet and Quickstar.
- Despite his age, Christian has said that Taloubet still feels and acts like a young horse. “He feels fresh, like a young horse, he knows every situation in the world and it’s easy to train and keep him fit,” Ahlmann has said.
- A Taloubet Z offspring, Premier Titanium, scored a 96.3 out of 100 to win the 4-year-old Championship Final at the Portmore Equestrian Center in Aghalee, United Kingdom in October 2015.
- Taloubet will go out of the sport with the same stunning, swan song feat as Rolf-Göran Bengtsson’s Casall ASK, who won the €300,000 Longines Grand Prix of Hamburg CSI5* in his final performance last May.
-Photos by Thomas Reiner.
- Taloubet Z: Retiring a Champion [Noelle Floyd]