The Bigwood Family's Sir Donato Retired from Sport

Sat, 06/08/2024 - 08:33
Great Britain
Anders Dahl and Sir Donato at the 2017 CDI Compiegne :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Sir Donato, an international Grand Prix horse that has served three riders in the Bigwood family, has been retired from sport.

He is a 19-year old Oldenburg gelding by Sir Donnerhall out of Samantha (by Barsoi xx x Vollkorn xx x Orator). He is bred by Bernhard Nienkemper.

Licensed Stallion

He was licensed at the 2007 Westfalian Stallion Licensing in Munster, where Fiona Bigwood bought him. 

She put him in training and at stud at Ferienhof Stucker. He did his 30-day stallion suitability test in Munster-Handorf in the autumn of 2008 and scored 7.79 for dressage and 7;74 for show jumping, totalling 7.76 points. He bred only very little and has 8 offspring registered for sport in Germany, the most successful being Samurai-Rock (Lara Welling).

Sir Donato was first competed by Jana Freund in Germany in 2008 through 2010.

The Bigwood Family

Bigwood on Sir Donato in 2014
He was first competed by Fiona's now ex-husband Anders Dahl in the U.K. in 2012, going from novice level to advanced medium that year. 

A two-year show break followed and in 2014 Fiona debuted the gelding at Grand Prix level at Step Aside Dressage in February. They made their CDI debut in April that year at Addington, where they finished 6th in the Grand Prix and 11th in the Kur. Two weeks later, Fiona fell off Sir Donato and sustained a concussion which affected her eye sight to this date.

Sir Donato returned to the arena in 2015 under Dahl and showed in Joosland, Saumur and Compiegne. There were no shows in 2016, but in 2017 Anders and Sir Donato campaigned in Hagen, Compiegne, Bolesworth; Saumur and Le Mans. Their last CDI as a pair was the 2018 CDI Keysoe.

Mette Dahl

After four year break from competition, Sir Donato came back to the spotlight in March 2021 under daughter Mette Dahl in an Intermediaire II class at Hunters Equestrian. She finished 12th at the 2021 British Intermediaire II Championships.

With Mette Dahl at the 2024 CDI Addington
Sir Donato saw the CDI ring again in 2023 when he did the Under 25 tour at Wellington Heckfield and scored a double victory for his rider. In 2024 they did Addington and Hickstead.


Mette Dahl announced Sir Donato's retirement from sport a week ago.

"This horse has given me everything and more and I feel incredibly honoured to have had the opportunity to ride him," said Mette. "Not only was he incredibly talented but he also had a heart of gold and I could never fault his attitude when it came to work. To have had the opportunity to compete at U25 GP level since I was 15 is something which I will forever be thankful for. Even though he has never felt better and is in great condition he is now going to enjoy the rest of his years out with the fellow retired horses."

Photos © Astrid Appels - Silke Rottermann - Kevin Sparrow

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