After a very successful career under Chris Chugg, Katharina Offel and Cassio Rivetti – the now 18-year-old stallion Vivant was retired earlier this spring. World of Showjumping caught up with Chris Chugg on Vivant's story and early beginnings, and how he went on to become one of the best horses in the world.
"We bought Vivant as a 3,5-year-old in Belgium from his breeder Hubert Hamerlinck. Vivant was a beautiful type, and his mum was just the same quality. In the beginning we wanted to buy 5-year-olds, but we soon realized that we couldn't afford them so we had to step back to 3-year-olds instead," Chugg explains on how he ended up buying Vivant.
"We looked at maybe 300 stallions during that one month, and he was the first one we saw. Vivant was the best type of them all, but his free-jumping was very normal. So, initially I didn't want him. But, we went back there anyway and I jumped him under the saddle outside in the snow and he totally changed. He jumped like a cat! Vivant was a 10 out of 10 under saddle, and 5 out of 10 free-jumping," Chris smiles.
"Vivant was a very easy horse to train, he had a nice canter and was build correctly. It is always nice with a horse with a good shoulder, and I like horses with a short neck. I don't like horses with a long neck as I think they have more balance with a short neck, and you don't have to shorten their neck to have them over their hind legs."
"So, in the end we bought Vivant and took him to Australia as a 3,5 year old. He came back to Europe to get ready for the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, but in the trials he grabbed the bit like a stallion can do. He never did that before and never after, but in that competition he did. We had three down, and missed out on the Olympics," Chugg tells.
"Two years later we went to the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Before the WEG we jumped at the 2010 World Cup Final and I got the chance to do some lovely shows - thanks to John Roche - and my ranking went from 289 to 87 in the world. After the World Equestrian Games it was a lot of interest in Vivant. I didn't have a second horse for ranking classes, which meant that I would have to go to 2* and 3* shows, and use Vivant as my ranking horse. I wasn't prepared to do that as I thought that he would have a better life as a 5* horse. So it was an easy decision to sell to Aleksandr Onyshchenko," Chris says about the sale of the stallion to Ukraine back in 2010.
"Vivant is 18 now, and normally when we are in Europe we always go to visit him. It has been really nice to see the horse live out his life. I know that Cassio Rivetti hopes that Vivant will be able to spend his retirement at his place, and if not I will offer to take him back to Australia so he can be retired there."
Text © World of Showjumping // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson
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