Champion horse Bonfire has died on Monday morning at the age of 30. The most well-known horse in the Netherlands, besides the horse of Sinterklaas of course, won with his rider Anky van Grunsven a gold medal at the Olympics in Sidney in 2000.
‘My heart is broken, Bonfire passed away,” announced the 3 time Olympian champion Anky van Grunsven on Twitter.
The famous dressage horse was already suffering in the last weeks. First he had inflamed hooves from which he recovered. “In the last 48 hours his health went down rapidly. He had already problems with his adrenal glands for a while and now it became so bad that we had to decide to make him sleep,” told van Grunsven.
Van Grunsven reached the top of dressage with Bonfire, leading to her first gold medal at the Olympics in 2000. After the Olympics Bonfire was granted a well deserved old day in Erp (Brabant) where van Grunsven has a ranch with her husband, dressage coach Sjef Janssen. In the village there is also a statue of the golden horse with the official name of Gestion Bonfire.
Originally Bonfire was thought of as a stud horse. When he was rejected by his breeder for that purpose, the then 17-year old van Grunsven bought the 2.5-year-old stud Bonfire for 20,000 guilders in 1985.
It was love at first sight between van Grunsven and Bonfire. After the young horse was trained behind the screens, she recognized some special abilities. Her second Dutch dressage title she won with Bonfire in 1991. The couple won in total nine Dutch dressage titles, five World Cup finals, the World Cup in 1994 and just before the retirement of the horse, the golden medal in Sydney in 2000.
Bonfire and van Grunsven were the first team that put the Germans from their top position, something that seemed impossible at those times.
Van Grunsven won also gold medals at the Olympics in 2004 and 2008 with her new horse Salinero.