byJennifer Donald| Feb 6, 2018
When we catch up with uber-horseman and eventing world #1 Michael Jung, he is fresh from a grand prix victory in at the CSI2* Kronenburg and gearing up for three days of top-flight show jumping at the CSI5* at Bordeaux in France. He’s been selected for the German jumping squad and hopes to make his Nations Cup team shortly.
“I’ve focused a bit more on the show jumping this year and the plan is to do some Nations Cups, but we have to see how everything works out,” says Jung. “Fischersolution [a 9-year-old mare by Carthino Z], who I won with in Kronenburg recently is my best show jumping horse, along with Fischerchelsea (Check In 2 x Argent) and Sportsmann S (Stolzenberg x Calido I).
Currently, Jung is back at home in Germany bringing his equally enviable string of eventing horses back into work in preparation for the 2018 season, with the World Championships in Tryon, North Carolina as the big goal. “[The plan is] Badminton in May, Kentucky, and then the World [Equestrian] Games are my big goals for eventing. I don’t think it’s a possibility to compete at WEG in the showjumping, too, though!” Jung jokes.
We’re not so sure. Is there no end to the 35-year-old triple Olympic gold medalist’s talents? We catch up with Michael to find out a few secrets to his phenomenal success…
1. Treat every horse as an individual.
I have 25 horses at home and, of course, each one is slightly different, so not every horse is in the same training regime. It’s important that you understand every horse you work with and find a nice way to work each one.
2. Teamwork keeps the show on the road.
We’re currently getting ready for the eventing season as well as competing the jumpers, so it’s our busiest time. I have a lot of very good people around me who help with the horses and around the stable.
3. Use cross-discipline training to your benefit.
I don’t know if it makes me a better horseman, but it does help the horses. Doing show jumping gridwork helps the horses from both sides—the jumpers and the eventers—with energy and condition. And galloping up and down hills for fitness is something we do with the jumping horses as well as the eventers. All the horses benefit from it.
4. The more horses you ride, the better your horsemanship.
I’ve learned a lot from riding a lot of different horses and I think it’s really important that young people learn that way. Every horse is different, so you have to be able to ride each one accordingly and it makes you more open to everything. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you do just dressage, jumping, or eventing, or a combination of all of them, as long as you have that grounding.
5. Mix it up!
This is such a busy time of year for me but it’s nice to change and do a bit of this and a bit of that. When I am at home, some of the jumping horses can have a bit of a break, and I can work more with the eventing horses. Then, at the end of March when the eventing season starts, the jumping horses will have a break for six weeks and then we can do more work with the eventing horses during this time. So it actually works really well.
-Photo credits: Thomas Reiner; Shannon Brinkman; Erin Gilmore.
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