World of Showjumping made a trip to the Meredith and Markus Beerbaum's stable to meet up with their grooms Anu and Ninna. We were curious about how Shutterfly and the other "oldies" are doing now when they are retired - and we can assure you that they are having a great time!
At the moment five old top showjumpers are enjoying their retirement at Meredith and Markus' yard. It is Meredith's Shutterfly, Stella and Le Mans, then there is Markus' Constantin and last but not least Felix - a horse belonging to Meredith's horse owner Nancy from Octavia Farms LLC. Markus' mare Lena will also join the gang if she doesn't get into foal this year.
Shutterfly and Lena are both nineteen, Constantin eighteen, Le Mans seventeen and Felix - well, no one really knows. "We think he is around 25 - 30 but we really don't know. He is the sweetest though" Anu tells us. "He never does anything wrong!"
Stella, Le Mans and Felix go together in a big field behind the yard. They get out in the morning and come back in around five o'clock in the afternoon. The field is huge and you can't even see all of it from one spot. The field also has a shelter, so that the horses can hide from weather and flies if they want to.
Shutterfly and Constantin go together in a field in front of the yard. "Shutterfly is having a hard time with the flies and he gets whatever he wants. So sometimes he goes out at six o'clock and in already at 8.30. One time he actually jumped out of the field because he was so annoyed with the flies," Anu says.
All the oldies are staying in their boxes overnight so they can be properly looked after and taken care off. "The best thing is to have the oldies home, then you really can see how they are. They all have their own little things and when you know them so well it is easy to see and notice if everything is alright."
Anu and Ninna for sure know the horses well - Anu has been working in the stable for 14 years and Ninna for 13 years. "It's like home," Anu says. "And it is funny how fast time flies by. Shutterfly was six when I started here and now he is 19. We have done it all together. And Stella was 10 and now she has had four foals and is a happy camper."
Nancy, who owns Shutterfly, Stella, Le Mans, Malou, Checkmate and Cantino among others, had Felix as her own horse. "He just flew back and forth between America and Germany so Nancy could have him to ride even when she was in Europe. Felix is the best ever, you can put him out with everyone and he doesn't do anything wrong. Now he is the babysitter for the other horses."
"Felix has been here for a long time now and he used to be so sweet and pretty when he was still in work - he has the tiniest little ears. He is also extremely brave. When Meredith had a photo shoot were she had to jump in an evening gown - a bright yellow evening gown - Felix was the horse she used. The same thing happened on another occasion when Meredith jumped on a trampoline and he had to stand next to it so it looked like Meredith was jumping over him – it was no problem for Felix!"
Together with Stella (Quick Star x Wilson) Meredith was the first woman ever to compete on a German Championship team. It was the Europeans at Hickstead in 1999 where Germany won the gold medal.
"Stella is a California girl, she came here with Meredith when she was four years old. She is one of the first foals after Quick Star," Anu lets us know. "I used to ride bareback on her on the roads around the yard when she was still showing. She wasn't afraid of anything."
"Stella was ten when she did the Europeans at Hickstead. I was 21 and had only been here for a year so it was a bit intimidating. It was the first time for Meredith on the German team after she changed nationality so it was all nerve wracking and exiting. But they were double clear and the team won!"
"Stella has always been a good girl, the only thing she has is with her food - you should not get in the way of her food!" Anu laughs.
When Stella got retired she went to Sören von Rönne for six years to be used for breeding. "She got four foals and did a super job as a mother as well. When she came to Sören it was really late in the season but she got into foal straight away. And she was 16 when she retired so she was no longer a young mare. But she likes younger stallions, not older ones," Anu points out with a smile.
Stella's oldest foal is now six years old and by Cartani. She also has a five year old by Cartani that has been sold and one three year old and a two year old by Chacco-Blue. "We only get boys from the old mares. So we are still waiting for the first mare to get born and as Stella is not getting any more foals Lena is our only hope now."
Le Mans alias Leo
Meredith and the lovely chestnut by Leubus x Landadel had some great results together but unfortunately Le Mans was retired earlier than expected.
"Leo is probably the most careful horse I ever seen. He could jump everything but he wasn't so easy because he was so careful. He was a bit wild but basically very nice. Now when he is retired he is so cool and relaxed. Leo got retired last year in the spring, and it was because nobody could say what he was missing. He wasn't really lame but something was wrong with him and we never found out what."
Markus and Constantin (Contender x Marlin) were in the World Cup final both in Las Vegas and Kuala Lumpur during their successful career together. In Las Vegas they finished on eleventh place.
"Constantin did everything with Markus. For such a big horse he was unbelievable fast, he turned like a pony. On a good day nobody could beat him. I remember so well when he got here from Jörg Naeve. We opened the lorry and there stood this enormous big massive horse," Anus says. "Constantin and Checkmate are both by Contender. They have similar behavior and are build in the same way, even though Constantin is an elephant."
Ninna, who took care of Constantin for all these years, ads; "Constantin is like a dog and he loves people. Actually he wants attention all the time so he drives everyone crazy. But he is my Shutterfly. I have spend so much time with him and sometimes he doesn't realize how big he is."
Constantin got nervous at shows when he got older and got performance anxiety. "He got retired because he started to try too hard and got so careful. So he wasn't injured or anything." When the big gelding got retired Ninna rode him for about a year before he was retired for good. "I can go hacking with him without a saddle and just in a head color. He loves to buck though, but he just do that when the saddle is on. Anu had some jumping lessons with me and it was so scary - but Constantin thought it was super fun to jump some smaller fences."
Ninna and Anu try to teach all their horses to pee on a whistle sign, so it will be easier to do doping tests and to make the horses to pee ahead of journeys. "Not all of them learn that, but the ones that are after the treats can learn it really fast. Constantin still peas every time we whistle to Checkmate and stands there waiting for his treat," Ninna laughs.
Shutterfly probably doesn't need any presentation, but it should be mentioned that when he got retired in Aachen 2011 he had won a total of 3.520.864 Euro. That's made him the most successful horse ever! Most of us know Shutterfly from the international arenas, but how is he outside the spotlight? No one can probably answer that question better than Anu, who has been doing everything with him the last 14 years.
"Shutterfly is nice! All the young horses we have at the moment are really girly or stallions and then it is so nice to take care of "Petey" (Shutterfly, editor's notice) - he is so polite!" Anu says with a lot of love in her voice. "But he has his frights. When you know what he is afraid of you can avoid it or just tell him it's ok and go, then he will follow."
"He is a bit funny with noises and fireworks – it is not his thing! At New Years we move him to another box. It is in a stable were we can have light on both inside and outside of the stable. Then we put two radios on. If he sees the firework he will be running around the box the whole night. Sometimes it helps to take him outside when the fireworks has finished so he can see it's nothing there. At the Europeans in Mannheim that helped. In Calgary though he went mental. I took him out ten times from his box and as long as he was standing outside he was ok, but as soon as he returned in his box he started to run around again. First at 4 o'clock in the night he started to calm down. Next morning he was alright, but as soon as the action in the stable started he got stressed again."
Anu takes Shutterfly outside so we can take some photos. "I used to go out walking with my dog in one hand and Shutterfly in the other hand. It is one problem though, when he sees grass he's going there eating," Anu laughs when Shutterfly drag her along to the nearest grass. When Shutterfly gets to his grass Anu continues "Another problem he had was the saddle. He didn't like the saddle girth. But that wasn't the problem at the WEG 2006 in Aachen when he got so stressed in the last final. There were too many people in a too small space, and it was actually everything that we always avoided with him but this time he couldn't get out of there. He gets a bit phobic in small and crowded places. He never did his prize givings for example. It was just too much for him."
We have to ask Anu about her best memory with Shutterfly and she answers: "There are so many so it is hard to say. Maybe when Petey was standing on the plane to go to the Olympics in Hong Kong. We had been working so hard for that and then we finally were on our way, and he almost got a medal there. Or maybe when he won the World Cup final in 2009."
After a couple of hours with Anu and Ninna we would love to stay at Meredith's and Markus' yard. Everything is so relaxed, the horses so well taken care of, and it is just a fantastic atmosphere. "It is nice here, home is home. It is so quiet which is good since it is enough stress for the horses at shows. Here they can breathe and get a break," Anu explains.
When we finally drag us back to the car (we really would love to stay!) Anu says: "It is not everyone that has the possibility to have their old horses on their yard. But we have space enough. We have also got some of the horses that Meredith and Markus sold back so they were able to spend their last years here. It is nice and the horses can be horses and have their fun. The oldies have done so much, now it is time to give something back!"
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