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‘He was my best mate, we adored each other’ — farewell to prolific hunter

The legendary lightweight hunter Dunbeacon has died aged 20 after suffering from inoperable colic.

The bay gelding was known for his victories with leading show horse producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable.

Katie and Dunbeacon’s most successful time was between 2011 and 2012. In the former, he was overall hunter champion at Royal Windsor and won both ladies and lightweight classes at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) before taking the supreme horse title. The following season he reclaimed his Windsor crown and was also supreme horse at the Royal International.

“He was a tricky young horse,” said Katie. “He was cold-backed and if he was in a situation where he wasn’t happy, the next minute he’d be sat on the floor. Because of this he was only lightly shown in his younger years.”

It was only when she lost her prolific hunter Azarax that Katie decided it was time for Dunbeacon to step up.

“I was heartbroken when I suddently lost Azarax, but it was this time when I said to DB ‘it’s your time to grow up now and do the job now’,” she said.

“I decided to try him side-saddle and before long hed won his first qualifier and was heading to HOYS. He’d absolutely needed that time to mature in his brain.

“He was a difficult horse but we adored each other. Because wed worked so hard to build trust in each other we became best mates.”

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Katie remembered his RIHS supreme victory: “He had a ‘DB freak-out’ and went into stress mode outside the main arena. I was panicking a bit but as soon as he stepped into the ring he just rose to the occasion. He knew he was the main man. He had the biggest gallop and he did the most beautiful show in the Hickstead main arena. That was a pheanomal day.”

Dunbeacon was bought by Katie as a three-year-old and he retired from the show ring in 2014. He lived out his days at Katie’s Essex base.

“He was never going to leave home; he’d given me everything. He was a major part of our yard and all the staff loved him. He was still reguarly ridden and pampered, and it wasn’t his time to go but there was nothing anyone could do. But it doesn’t make saying goodbye to your best friend any easier.”

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