Dressage Champion Rusty Euthanized

World champion dressage mount Rusty 47, long-time equine partner to Germany’s Ulla Salzgeber, was humanely euthanized last week after he'd lain down in his field and was unable to rise, according to Salzgeber’s professional website.

The 25-year-old gelding had been retired since the pair took home the team gold and the individual silver at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The culminating victory followed a string of team and individual international dressage medals starting in 1997.

Rusty was pastured for the past seven years along with his companion pony Motte in Hungary, where Salsgeber’s “beloved” horse was “allowed to fall asleep very peacefully.”

Rusty’s genetic legacy lives on, however, through two young clones of the gelding. Earlier this year, French equine cloning company Cryozootech announced the one-year birthdays of “Rusty Clone 1” and “Rusty Clone 2.” The yearling stallions were respectively foaled and raised at the Cryozootech facilities in France and at Puntaci Farm in Gainesville, Texas. Rusty’s young clones could therefore provide a way for breeders to soon benefit from the deceased gelding’s genes through breeding—in both the U.S. and Europe.

But for Salzbeger, the clones could never replace Rusty himself. “It's good to know that he has seen such beautiful years after having been for me the best and most faithful friend and partner in the dressage ring that one can ever imagine,” she said on her website. “I still often think of our most beautiful victory … at the German Championships in 2000 in Balve. And even more I think about this unique feeling that Rusty has given me in so many competitions. He will always be special to me. Thank you, Rusty.”

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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