What a difference a year makes.
Just a year or so ago, German eventing superstar Michael Jung was celebrating his 30th birthday and his present to himself came in solid gold: he won the Olympic individual and team gold medals in eventing at the 2012 London Olympics. Winning the Olympics meant that Michael Jung was the personification of eventing perfection: he and his horse Sam were the reigning European, World and Olympic champions.
Now it's a year later and the world is wondering, "Can they do it again?" Europe is gearing up for the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships 2013?at Malmo in Sweden. Michael Jung will ride to defend the first of his titles, but this summer has been a little rocky for him.
As reported by The Jurga Report on July 29, Michael has had horse problems; at Malmo, he won't be riding his top horse, Sam, who is injured, which also narrows or eliminates Jung's plans for Burghley's 4* in England a few weeks later. Jung was expecting to ride Sam at either Burghley or Malmo.
But that's old news now.
As it turns out, Michael Jung is now out of training himself. Multiple sources in the German press announced this weekend that Michael's arm is in a plaster cast. The medical condition that the cast is treating is described as "an infection" in one of his fingers that has caused his entire right hand to swell. The description of the problem is attributed to his father and business manager, Joachim Jung, in an interview.
The eventing website buschreiter.de concludes that Michael could be riding but is being advised not to by doctors. He is, however, expected to be recovered by the time the dressage begins on August 29. Someone else will have to prepare the horse.
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This "day in the life" video was made just before the Olympics last year and allows you to see Michael Jung's training center in Germany. His horses are definitely prepared for water obstacles.
According to the German reports, Jung's hand is receiving medical therapy with antibiotics and the elder Jung said that he hopes that surgery will not be necessary. This uncharacteristic run of bad luck for the champion proves that he is not immune to the pitfalls that can arise at any moment with horses in competition training.
If you have ever seen Michael Jung ride, you know that his skill and lightness are an asset for even a horse you've never heard of. But Halunke is no slouch, even if his name is not a household word here in the USA. Halunke was Jung's mount when he won the FEI Eventing World Cup leg at Haras Le Pin in France just a few weeks after London last year. Six weeks later, the pair were second at Boekelo in Holland. Earlier this season, Jung and Halunke won the 3* division at Luhmuehlen.
Halunke is, like Sam, a W?rttemberg warmblood. His long asymmetric blaze should make him simple to spot in photos. If it's easier to remember, "halunke" is the German word for "scoundrel".
You can be sure that Michael Jung will have both hands on the reins by the time he loads the big van for the drive to Sweden.