Lara Butler's number one Grand Prix horse Kristjan has been retired from competition sport.
Kristjan is an 18-year old Oldenburg registered but Trakehner bred gelding by Polarion out of Kardinale (by Napoleon Quatre x Mahagoni). He is bred by Ursula and the late Wilfried Bechtolsheimer.
Kristjan has been trained from young horse level to Grand Prix by Lara Butler (née Griffith), the home rider at Bechtolsheimer's yard in Ampney St. Peter, U.K.
He followed in the footsteps of Rubin al Asad, the Grand Prix horse with which Lara broke through internationally and who was retired from sport in 2020.
Lara first competed Kirstjan as a youngster and briefly handed over the ride to Laura Tomlinson (née Bechtolsheimer), but the bay proved to be a better match for Butler and as of 2012 she retained the ride for the rest of the horse's sport career.
“Kristjan doesn’t really have the classical body for dressage so we have taken our time building up the strength in him,” Lara told Horse & Hound in 2021. "Every horse is an athlete and we want them to last as long as possible; the philosophy with the Bechtolsheimers is not to push a horse too fast. Kristjan has needed time to grow into his body."
International Grand Prix Horse
The pair started out slowly competing through the levels in the U.K. They competed at multiple British Winter and National Championships over the past decade.
Their international show debut was in 2017 in Hartpury at small tour level. In 2018 they moved to medium tour level in spring and by autumn they competed in their first international Grand Prix class at the 2018 CDI Oldenburg.
Between 2019 and 2023 the pair competed at numerous international dressage competitions in Geesteren, Hartpury, Donaueschingen, Hagen, Deauville, Aachen, Keysoe, London Excel, Le Mans, Opglabbeek, Hickstead and Wellington Heckfield, representing Great Britain twice in the Nations Cup in Aachen in 2021 and 2022.
At the British Nationals they were third in the Prix St Georges in 2015, third in the Inter I and second Inter I Kur in 2016, and third in the Inter I Kur in 2017. They won the Inter II title in 2018. They were second in the Grand Prix and Kur in 2019, they were second in the Grand Prix in 2022.
Their last international was Wellington-Heckfield in June 2023. Their last competition as a pair were the 2023 British Grand Prix Championships in which they finished fifth in the Grand Prix and third in the Kur to Music.
Laura Tomlinson and Lara Butler announced Kristjan's retirement today.
"He was the first horse I sat on when I came for the job interview for Laura and her family when he was just 5 years old," Butler reminisced. "What a long way we’ve come since then! We’ve grown together, learnt a lot and I’ll be forever grateful to the family for letting me train and compete their beautiful (little bit naughty) homebred! He’s taken me around the world for the last five years at Grand Prix, but now it’s time for him to enjoy a quieter time and wind down over the winter!"
Lara added, "I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us along our journey… it’s not been so easy at times but we knew it was worth sticking with!"
Laura Tomlinson stated, "happy retirement to our wonderful homebred Kristjan who had a fabulous GP career and was lucky to have had Lara behind his cheeky ears from the early days to his last official dance."
Photos © Astrid Appels
Eurodressage Photo Database: Kristjan
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