Dutch Olympian Anky van Grunsven retired her longtime partner, Salinero, in two emotional ceremonies at the Indoor Brabant show in s’Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, on March 14-16.
The first ceremony featured a quadrille of van Grunsven’s Dutch teammates and a pas de deux ridden by her children, Ava Eden and Yannick Janssen, on their ponies. Van Grunsven then rode her “Dance Of Devotion” freestyle on Salinero with pianist Wibi Soerjadi accompanying her. Van Grunsven and Salinero, 19, rode their freestyle again, with Soerjadi’s live accompaniment, on March 16 in front of a sold-out crowd and received a standing ovation.
The dark bay Hanoverian gelding (Salieri—St. Pr. Luna, Lungau) started his dressage career with Holger Schulze, and came to van Grunsven’s barn as a 6-year-old. He was supposed to be sold on, but caught the eye of van Grunsven and her trainer and husband, Sjef Janssen, and they bought him in 2001.
Although Salinero could be quite hot in competition, van Grunsven was able to capture that energy and the two were known for their expertly composed and choreographed musical freestyles. Salinero and van Grunsven became the anchor for Dutch championship teams. At the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, they won individual gold, a feat they would repeat in 2008 at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong, where they also took home team silver.
Van Grunsven won the FEI World Cup Final four times with Salinero (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008). The pair also earned a team silver medal, individual silver in the Grand Prix Special, and individual gold in the freestyle at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games. Salinero finished his stellar career finishing sixth individually and earning a team bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.
“I would like to thank a couple of people,” van Grunsven said. “First of all, Sjef. Salinero was at my place already, but he wasn’t mine. Sjef kept telling me that I had to ride Salinero. I did, and from that moment on, I knew this was a horse for me. Sjef always knew how to motivate me and he got the best out of me and Salinero.
“Really important were Salinero’s grooms, Jokelien Janson, Willeke van Uden and Claudia Bongers, who always took great care of Salinero not only at the competitions, but also at home. I also want to thank Rob Renirie, Salinero’s blacksmith, who is always there for me, and our vets, Hans van Schie, Jef Desmedt and Maarten Aarts; they did a great job. Thanks you so, so much,” van Grunsven continued.