Nanna Skodborg Merrald's career starting horse Millibar has passed away.
"My very first and homemade Grand Prix horse Millibar is not with us any more," Nanna stated. "Due to a very short period of illness we decided that he deserved peace."
Millibar was a 21-year old Danish warmblood gelding by Milan out of Isabel (by Liberty Dane). He was bred by Fritz Jensen.
From Juniors to Grand Prix
Jorgen Olsen, the owner of sire Milan, purchased Millibar as a one-day old foal after he returned from Seattle, WA on one of the last flights out of America on 9/11. He sold the horse to the Merrald family.
At the time young Nanna was having a successful international career on ponies and it was Millibar who showed her the ropes on horses.
Still a pony rider at the time competing Centrum on the Danish pony team, the 15-year old Nanna began competing Millibar at national level in Denmark in 2008 when the horse was 7.
Under the careful training of her coach Michael Sogaard, the pair was prepared for a junior riders' debut. They first represented Denmark in 2010 at the European Junior Riders Championships in Kronberg, where they got team silver and finished 9th in the freestyle
In 2011 they returned on the team for the European Junior Riders Championships held on home turf in Broholm, where they got team silver. The ambitious rider shed tears of disappointment after placing fourth in the individual test. They took revenge in the freestyle and captured gold.
At the 2012 European Young Riders Championships in Berne, they claimed team silver and were fifth in the individual test and seventh in the freestyle.
Grand Prix Rollercoaster
Already in the spring of 2012 the pair got its feet wet at Grand Prix level competing in the international U25 classes at the CDI Saumur, but then dropped back down to Young Riders' level for the 2012 European YR Championships.
Merrald spent the year 2013 gaining miles at GP level and returned to the Under 25 division at the CDI Munich in May 2013, where they placed second. They won the 2013 Danish Under 25 Championships and at the CDIO Aachen they scored a double victory in the Under 25 division. They went on to win the U25 classes at the 2013 European Dressage Championships in Herning, attracting the interest of the Danish senior team selectors. By October 2013 they had moved onto the senior World Cup circuit and competed in Odense, Stockholm, Neumunster, and Gothenburg to qualify for the 2014 World Cup Finals in Lyon, launching themselves as hopeful for the Danish team for the 2014 World Equestrian Games.
In Lyon, however, things went awry. Millibar failed the vet check after he injured himself there. For 21-year old Merrald it was a big blow. Her horse was off for almost two years and had a long road of recovery.
They made their national come back in March 2016 and their international show come back at the 2016 CDI Hagen in April. Dreams of being considered for the 2016 Danish Olympic team ended abruptly when Millibar only scored 63.640% in Hagen with the horse appearing unwilling and not fresh.
Hagen was the gelding's last show in his career. In May 2017 his official retirement from sport was announced.
Millibar spent his retirement in the field. On 17 August 2022, Nanna announced the sad passing of her career starting horse.
"Millibar we have done everything together, you are my once in a lifetime horse, so many tears, so many frustrating training hours but I learned so much from you. We have been Danish Champions and European Champions as juniors. Then you took we to my debut in Grand Prix, we had two victories in CHIO Aachen U25, debut as senior - first year as senior with qualifying for the World Cup finals in Lyon. We did more together than I could ever dreamt of. Thanks to my trainer through all the years Michael Sogaard and my mom Helle for all the help."
Photos © Astrid appels
Eurodressage Photo Database: Millibar
Nanna Skodborg Merrald's Millibar Retired from Sport
Merrald Skips Olympic Dream for 2016-2017 World Cup Season
Nanna Skodborg Merrald's Millibar Still on the Road to Recovery
Nanna Skodborg Merrald's Millibar Fails Re-inspection at 2014 World Cup Finals
Skodborg Merrald Leads Cream of the Crop at 2013 Danish Under 25 Championship
Merrald and Team Denmark Reign in Under 25 Classes at 2013 CDIO Aachen
Merrald's Tears Turn to Gold in Junior Riders Kur to Music Finals