When I catch up with uber-horseman and eventing living legend Michael Jung, he's fresh off a stellar early 2018 season, and gearing up for more. The guy is unstoppable - not that I just figured that out, but it gets me every single time. I was dying to get inside the mind of the man who seems to win at everything he does, so I did.
“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).
Photo by Erin Gilmore
Michael has been back at home in Germany off and on, bringing his equally enviable string of eventing horses back into work in preparation for the remainder of the 2018 season, with the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina as the big goal. “The World [Equestrian] Games is my big goal for eventing [for the rest of this year]. I don’t think it’s a possibility to compete at WEG in the showjumping, too, though!” he jokes.
I'm not so sure. Is there no end to the 35-year-old triple Olympic gold medalist’s talents? The jury is still out (although leaning towards 'hell no' since the end has yet to be seen), but in the meantime, I begged Michael for just a few secrets to his massive 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.
Photo by Thomas Reiner
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.
Article courtesy of Jennifer Donald