Andrew Nicholson’s retired four-star ride Lord Killinghurst has died.

The 21-year-old gelding, owned by Nicky and Robin Salmon, suffered a massive heart attack in the field yesterday (Tuesday, 20 March).

He’d just been turned out in the sunshine and was looking a million dollars,” Nicky told H&H.

“He put in a huge kick and a buck and then just dropped down dead. It was so sudden, he died instantly. I think it was just one of those freak things, he’d been out competing at advanced medium [dressage] at Cholderton at the weekend.”

Lord Killinghurst was due to retire officially at Badminton this year.

He and Andrew finished in the placings numerous times at both Badminton and Burghley – including finishing third at Burghley three times in a row and being runners-up at Badminton in 2004 – as well as representing New Zealand at the 2006 World Equestrian Games and the 2008 Olympics in 2008.

“He was completely unique and had a wicked sense of humour – once you learnt to get used to it,” added Nicky.

“He was charming and a gentleman – most of the time. You couldn’t lead him in or out from the field without a chifney though – he’d just go up on his hind legs. He was a huge, huge character.”

Nicky bought him as a four-year-old from his breeder John Studd, after watching him work on a lunge.

“He hadn’t jumped at all and we put up some cross poles and he worked it all out so quickly. Andrew always said he’d never fall but would only ever make the slightest effort to clear a jump. He did only fall once and if you look at photos he was always almost touching the fence,” she said.

Lord Killinghurst started out with Owen Moore, who rode the horse til he was nine. He then went to Andrew Nicholson. The horse stopped eventing in 2009 and went to live with Nicky’s daughter Lucy in Tidworth.

He was just incredible, a complete legend and he took us everywhere,” said Nicky.

Andrew wrote on his Facebook site: “He was a phenomenal horse who always gave his all – consistently producing many top five placings with me, at four-star events.

“For me the highlight was him leading the dressage at Badminton – when last to go. He then went on to cope admirably in the deep ground (which he never enjoyed) on the XC at the end of the day. He finished second, my best result there to date. He may be gone – but will not be forgotten.”