‘He knew he was the bees’ knees’: tributes paid to advanced event horse

  • Tributes have been paid to a “unique” event horse who overcame difficulties with headshaking to compete at advanced level.

    David and Viv Chadwick’s Welton Hawkes Bay, bred by the late Sam Barr of Welton Stud, has been put down in retirement aged 20. The son of Welton Ambassador started his early eventing career with John Marsden and later Paul Sims, before Tyler Cassells took over the reins in 2010.

    Tyler told H&H gaining the ride on “Kes” had been a brilliant opportunity.

    “The partnership took some work to begin with. Kes was very sensitive and a headshaker. We clicked quite quickly but the biggest thing was getting him happy in his mouth,” he said.

    “Around a year after I took him on we had him tested for allergies and found he was allergic to stainless steel so he went on to do everything in a rubber snaffle. I would warm him up in a fly mask, take it off just before going down the centre line, and soon his dressage scores became more consistent. It was about managing him.”

    Tyler and Kes moved up the levels and completed their first advanced together at Weston Park in 2012 where they went double clear.

    “Kes took me round some of the biggest courses and a highlight was jumping one of the London 2012 cross-country fences at Aston-le-Walls, after the fences had been distributed following the Olympics,” said Tyler.

    “He had a unique jump where he really put in the power and we grew together. He lived in an outdoor stable at the top of the yard and thought he was the bees’ knees – he knew he was number one.”

    Kes stepped down from top-level eventing in 2015 and returned to his owners for a quieter life with their daughter Ellen Little and became a regular at Pony Club, where he was used to teach riders the ropes.

    “He mellowed with age and was a good first horse for people. I always stayed in touch with David and Viv and even taught Kes once at Pony Club, which was lovely,” said Tyler.

    Tyler said the gelding had a “great summer” but had been starting to “feel his age”. He had become uncomfortable in his joints and had arthritis in his feet, so the decision was made to put him down before winter.

    “He was such a character and a trier and a character. I will always have very fond memories of his unusual technique and him always trying his heart out for me,” he said.

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