German eventer Michael Jung goes to Normandy as the reigning World, Olympic and European champion. His steely yet calm nature is well-known in the sport of eventing, and he continues to be completely focused on this year’s world title.
“I always put pressure on myself to do well. Going in to WEG as favourites for team and individual gold does not put on more pressure.” Jung says.
“If you allow yourself to feel pressure from the outside then you make mistakes, so I concentrate on what I have to do and put everything else out of my mind.”
Jung, who is a spokesman for Land Rover, an official sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, will ride La Biosthetique Sam, who took him to his 2010 World title, the 2012 Olympic gold, and 2011 European win. Sam missed the 2013 Europeans through injury, although Jung won it in his absence on Halunke. He feels Sam “is as good as before”, and has not yet pushed him on his four outings of this year. “He is best for a lot of rest.”
Jung, 32, has been set on this career path since school. “As soon as I got home from school I used to ride, and I left school as soon as I could,” he said.
He spends an equal amount of time on the disciplines of dressage, showjumping and eventing. In fact of the 23 horses he has at home, ten are eventers, ten are showjumpers and three are specialist dressage horses. Many of them are young. “It is fun learning from horses. Every horse is different, and you have to ride them differently. I like to buy young horses of just three or four years, it then takes five, six, seven years to reach their best performance. From a young age I want the horses to have confidence in me.
“I work on developing the relationship with the horse so we work as one. It is vital to build a bond with your horse,” he adds. This involves taking them on their own cross-country course once or twice a week. Here there are over 100 jumps and a water jump that is big enough to lunge in. “This is great for giving them confidence in water, plus it is good for their fitness,” Jung says.
His philosophy is all about developing trust and being consistent. This is probably why he has always kept his father Joachim as his main trainer. The rest of the team are also well-established, his mother Brigitte manages the family’s riding stables and the entries. And his head groom Julia Harsch has worked for the him for many years.
Jung is now off to team training with the rest of the German team at the weekend before the Games start in Normandy, France, on August 23.