‘I loved every moment we had together’: Remembering the big-hearted horse who made Carl Hester a better rider

  • The 2016 Olympic ride of Carl Hester, Nip Tuck, was put down on 25 September, aged 19.

    Jane de la Mare, who co-owned Nip Tuck along with Carl Hester shared that the Don Ruto gelding had suffered from a short, sudden illness.

    Carl Hester and Nip Tuck represented Britain at four consecutive major championships between 2014 and 2017, winning three team silver medals, including at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

    They also finished third at the 2017 World Cup Final in Omaha, USA, and fourth individually at the European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, that same year. They also won the Olympic freestyle twice, in 2015 and 2016.

    In 2019, Carl and Nip Tuck – known at home as Barney – were crowned British national champions. Barney was retired from sport at the end of that year, following victory at the Liverpool International Horse Show.

    Barney was known for being nervous and spooky, and this continued throughout his career. However, the trust he gained in Carl, who bought him as a yearling, and the partnership they developed allowed Barney to flourish and become one of the world’s top dressage horses.

    “It’s hard to find the words to describe him,” said Carl in a moving tribute. “Barney was unique, loving and lovable, talented, a bit of a scaredy-cat but a real trier, kind, trusting and big-hearted. I loved every moment we had together.

    “He taught me so much, made me a better person and rider and defied all the odds. There are so many memories; forget the medals and accolades, he was my friend and I miss him dreadfully.”

    Take a look back through brilliant Barney’s career in pictures…

    Nip Tuck begins his international career in 2014, with Windsor being his first international show on UK soil.

    Nip Tuck makes his team debut for Britain at the World Equestrian Games 2014, helping secure team silver.

    Carl Hester riding Nip Tuck winner of the Grand Prix Dressage Competition during the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Windsor Castle, Berkshire, UK between 13th-17 May 2015

    The pair return to Windsor in 2015, this time collecting a double win in the shadow of Windsor Castle.

    Carl Hester and Nip Tuck help Britain to team silver at the 2015 European Championships in Aachen.

    In 2015, Carl and Nip Tuck once more help Britain onto a championship podium, winning silver at the Europeans in Aachen.

    Olympic winners in 2015, Carl and Nip Tuck enter the arena for the prize-giving with groom Alan Davies alongside.

    The 2016 Olympics get underway with the trot-up in Rio.

    Nip Tuck and Carl Hester

    Despite a heart-stopping spook in the grand prix, Nip Tuck proves an asset to Britain in Rio, winning his third team silver medal.

    Carl Hester and Nip Tuck

    Theirs was a partnership filled with trust, respect and friendship, and that was clear for all to see.

    Olympia dressage freestyle Carl Hester Nip Tuck

    It’s back to Olympia in December 2016, where they claim another euphoric victory.

    Nip Tuck achieves his best-ever individual championship finish, fourth at the European Championships in 2017.

    Carl Hester and Nip Tuck become British national champions in September 2019.

    Bowing out of competition on a high after winning at the Liverpool International in December 2019.

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