Sadness as laminitis claims life of ‘powerhouse’ King’s Troop Welsh cob who starred in Downton Abbey

  • A “powerhouse” Welsh cob who served in the King’s Troop, and starred in Downton Abbey, has been put down aged 12 after a short retirement.

    Esmerelda, or Bumble Bee as she was known, had been experiencing recurring laminitis, six months after she retired to the Horse Trust.

    The 15.2hh Welsh section D mare served for nine years with the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery (KTRHA).

    “She was a little powerhouse of a horse and served as a leader of the B Sub-Section’s gun team,” a Horse Trust spokesman said. “She performed numerous ceremonial duties at all kinds of state occasions, including royal births, birthdays and anniversaries, parliamentary openings, state visits and state funerals.”

    Bumble Bee also took part in high-profile events including The Queen’s birthday parades, royal salutes and the musical drive at the Royal Windsor and Royal Welsh horse shows.

    “But her talents didn’t stop there,” the spokesman said. “She was also a movie star. Bumble Bee had a starring role in the Downton Abbey film which came out in 2019.

    “Off-duty, she got to participate in plenty of fun ridden events, including cross-country – she was a superb jumper.”

    Bumble Bee fitted “perfectly” into the Horse Trust herd on her arrival last October. The spokesman said that owing to previous sinus surgery, she could often by heard “whistling” before she was seen.

    “This came in handy when checking the fields on dark winter mornings as we always knew where she was!” the spokesman said. “She was a really gentle, kind and loving girl who will be sorely missed by everyone.

    “She had a huge fan club on social media and we loved hearing all the stories her former grooms and riders would tell us about. She was described by a former rider as ‘the most clean and kind little mare I have ever known’ and was very fond of nabbing the apple cores out of everyone’s hands at lunchtime.”

    The Horse Trust was aware of Bumble Bee’s history of laminitis when she arrived.

    “But we all wanted to make sure she had a good retirement,” the spokesman said. “It became apparent after a few months that her flare-ups were becoming more [frequent] and were incredibly severe, and we were really struggling to manage Bumble Bee’s pain and keep her comfortable.”

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    Horse Trust vet, former KTRHA vet Nicky Housby-Skeggs, added: “Sadly her laminitis flared up again and she was very uncomfortable; we knew she had previously struggled to recover and when we saw her deteriorating despite treatment it was felt that her chances of recovering again were very small and it was kinder to let her go.”

    The spokesman said Bumble Bee’s time with the charity was “short but sweet”.

    “We are proud to have given her six months of the care and devotion that she so deserved but we wished we had her with us for longer,” he said. “She was a stunning, gentle and kind girl who we will never forget.”

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