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Tributes paid to legendary Dales stallion put down after field accident

“He was an amazing showman, but was the sweetest stallion in the stable and to ride. He was also an amazing hunter as he had an incredible jump – he was loved dearly”

A prolific Dales pony who won at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) has been put down aged 15 after fracturing his neck in the field.

Bill Ireland’s stallion Kilmannan Robert The Bruce — who was by Village Defender and out of Olympia champion Kilmannan Black Pearl — was produced and ridden by Richard Telford throughout his illustrious career.

One of his ridden highlights was in 2014 when he won the Fell and Dales pony of the year title at the HOYS before standing reserve in the overall mountain and moorland (M&M) championship. He was also a finalist at Olympia in 2012.

In 2016, he was crowned overall M&M in-hand supreme at the Royal Highland before lifting the coveted Cuddy in-hand ticket. Bruce and his sire Village Defender are the only two Dales ponies to have ever qualifed for the prestigious in-hand final.

He officially retired from the show ring in 2018.

“He had been with us since he was six months old,” Richard told H&H. “He was an amazing showman, but at the same time he was the sweetest stallion in the stable and to ride. Anyone could jump on him and take him for a hack and he was loved dearly because of this.

“He was also an amazing hunter as he had an incredible jump; I always felt I was too tall to hunt him but I’d watch him with others and he would jump five-bar gates.”

Richard and Bruce formed an unstoppable partnership.

“My most memorable ride on him was when he won at the Great Yorkshire. He was unreal; I felt as if I was sat on a 16.2hh warmblood,” he said.

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Bruce has several progeny waiting to follow in his footsteps.

“Bruce has some exciting stock on the ground, including a three-year-old filly living down South and we have a yearling, a two-year-old and a foal at home,” explained Richard.

“It was nice he had a happy retirement from showing. He is now buried in the field with his mares.”

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