Farewell Caesar 171
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The prolific pony stallion Caesar 171 has sadly passed away. After a long and magnificent life, he was put to sleep on 01 May 2022 at the great age of 33. The foundation stallion at the Brown family’s Godrics Stud, he was one of the most influential pony dressage sires in British breeding history, siring numerous prominent British dressage ponies of recent times.
A mainstay of British pony dressage between his arrival on these shores in the late 90s and his retirement in 2008, not only was Caesar 171 one of the most prominent British competition ponies of his time, but he also leaves a great legacy thanks to his success as a breeding stallion.
Numerous British team ponies over the past decade have been direct descendants of this consistent stallion. The extent of this accomplishment was never more evident than in 2017 when four of his progeny were on the longlist for the British team for the FEI Pony European Championships – LE Chiffre, Cruz III, Ella BS and George Clooney BS.
All these ponies have enjoyed successful international careers and are still on the circuit today. Cruz III is notably competing at Inter I for Jayne Turney, George Clooney BS, who was on the European Championships team with Sophie Taylor in 2018, is campaigning FEI Pony competitions for Mette Dahl, LE Chiffre competed at the 2016 Europeans with Lara Kuropatwa, while Ella BS and Gracie Morgan represented Great Britain at the 2021 FEI Pony European Championships in Strzegom, Poland.
The early years
Caesar 171 (Condor x Askan) was foaled in 1989. Two years later, the diminutive German Riding Pony stallion, who stood just 13.3hh, was approved in Germany by the Pferdestambuch Weser-Ems. In 1994, he completed his performance test very successfully gaining a good score, including two 10s. In the same year, he also achieved sixth place in the five-year-old dressage pony class at the Bundeschampionat.
After being imported to the UK in 1999 at the age of 10, Caesar quickly formed an effective partnership with his new rider, Victoria Molloy. They won the Medium Restricted Winter Championship title in 2000, and that same year were on the British Pony Team that brought home the team silver medal from the FEI Pony European Championships in Hagen, Germany, alongside teammates Laura Bechtolsheimer with Golden Dancer, Sally Makin with Nurejev and Maria Eilberg with Manitu N.
During 2003, Caesar was ridden with much success in national competition by Natalie Allen, then at the suggestion of trainer Ian Woodhead, was later bought by Beverley Brown of Godrics Stud both as a foundation stallion and a ride for her daughter Samantha who took over the reins in 2006.
“We were looking for a pony stallion to set up the stud, and Ian Woodhead said, “He’s only 13.3hh but come and see him,”” said Beverley. “He did look small in the stable, but he takes up the leg and as soon as Sam sat on him it was incredible. She beamed from ear to ear! His aids were whisper sensitive and he was so finely tuned that you had to ask him correctly in order to get the right response. He taught Sam everything – a huge amount. She knew every fibre of his being. Their connection was astonishing.”
After two years competing him successfully in FEI Pony tests at Premier League shows, Samantha retired Caesar from competition in 2008 at the age of 19, by which time his stallion career had already taken off. He has produced progeny that have been successful in various disciplines including showing, dressage, eventing and showjumping.
In January 2011, Caesar was awarded the prestigious British Breeders SPSS Performance & Breeding Award in recognition of his own international successes as well as his influence on British pony breeding. In 2015, he was awarded the SPSS Dancer Medal as a result of the many successes of his progeny during 2014.
“He was a magical being,” said Beverley. “He was so kind, and he was pomp and parade all day. When there were flags and music, he grew to 18 hands. He was incredible and he loved life. He was our King.
“When we retired him, he took to pipe and slippers very well. When he was competing, he didn’t particularly enjoy being in the field, but in retirement he thoroughly enjoyed it. Though he did look for a saddle every day! He loved to work.
“He was in tip top condition and he looked incredible right until the end,” continued Beverley. “He was sound, fit and active and we even had to put him on a diet. But we knew on the Sunday that he didn’t look himself and we owed him the duty that he wouldn’t suffer.
“It was the day of the Venus and Jupiter alignment, and as he passed away an amazing firework display could be seen over the valley. It was his time to gallop off.”
Photo © Kevin Sparrow and Adam Fanthorpe