It was the end of an era for a horse and rider who opted to go out together after finishing in style: 2016 Individual Olympic Gold Medalists Nick Skelton and Big Star officially retired Sunday at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
In front of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, family, friends, fellow Great Britain team riders and a massive standing crowd, Nick and Big Star hung up both saddle and spurs at the country’s most prestigious horse show. At 59 years old, Nick has spent more than four decades at the upper echelon of the sport, and is one of the oldest individual gold medalists in Olympic history in any sport.
Big Star makes his retirement at only 14, but after an injury in the fall, Nick and his team made the decision the pair would complete their careers together, and that “Henry” has done his part for show jumping.
After a final victory gallop, Nick removed Henry’s saddle and went for a final lap in-hand in front of a jubilant – albiet tearful – British crowd.
Nick’s youngest son Harry could not be at today’s events, but perhaps summarizes Nick’s rich and full life in the sport best with his message from afar:
“Dad, I’m so sorry I’m not there, but when I asked you if I should go racing today or come down to Windsor, you said, go and do your job and try and ride some winners. I thought; that is what has got you to where you are, your hard work, dedication and determination. My first great memory of you in the ring was when Dollar Girl won the World Cup Final in ’95. You went through so much from then to Rio 2016, and when you finally reached your childhood dream to take individual gold, was the best day of my life. I am the proudest son alive and so glad you’ve stopped at the top. I hope I will make you as proud as I am of you one day. See you later, love you, Harry.”
We wish Nick and Henry the happiest of retirements together.