The Billy name represents our reputation for quality British bred horses to a global audience. Horses that carry the ‘Billy’ prefix at the start of their names have been bred and produced at our stud in the south of England, nurtured by our team under the guidance of Donal Barnwell and William Funnell.
Donal and William established The Billy Stud with an aim to improve the standard of horses available in the UK. Now in its 27th year the stud has a comprehensive breeding and production programm with world class bloodlines.
There are now Billy horses that have competed at the World, Olympic and European Championships, with a highlight for the stud being the team gold medal achieved by Billy Congo and William at the Europeans in Herning 2013.
Billy Congo has since gone on to become a prolific sire, for both his progeny competing in the sport but also for our dam lines. A lot of our most notable breeding lines contain Billy Congo on the dam side, and we have some truly exceptional young stock coming through.
The Origins of the Billy Name
Before the creation of The Billy Stud, both Donal and William had their own equestrian ventures. Donal was trading in horses he brought over from Ireland. Whilst William was competing out of his own stable. They met in their early 20’s quickly realising each others strengths in the equine industry and began acquiring sport horses together.
One of these purchases was a Clover Hill x Sky Boy mare called Tatum, who would go on to become one of the foundation mares for the stud. Tatum was covered by the Olympic sire Animo, firstly producing a chestnut colt referred to by Donal as Orange. When Orange began his ridden career in Williams yard, he was affectionately named Billy, so when they came to register him it was decided he should be called Billy Orange. The second foal out of Tatum was a bay filly, they decided to call her Billy Autumn. This would eventually lead onto the ‘Billy’ prefix being used for all the horses bred by Donal at the stud.
As a 3yr old Billy Autumn had a black colt foal by Vechta that was named Billy Congo. Autumn was later sold to Canada as a 7yr old and went on to jump at the highest level winning numerous classes at Spruce Meadows.
Billy Congo showed a lot of quality as a young horse, so he was kept entire. William and Donals breeding program continued to grow buying proven Irish mares with quality bloodlines. A lot of the studs breeding mares now are homebred, whose lines can be followed back to the foundation mares.
The Billy Stud Auction platform was created in 2017, to give people a transparent way of buying quality horses direct from the breeder. Over the last 5 years our reputation has grown and we have have been recognised for selling British horses that are as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world. The consistent results achieved by our Billy auction horses has been instrumental in supporting this reputation.
All of our Billy horses are brought up in the most natural environment possible. They are bred at the stud under the care of Donal Barnwell. From their early days they are kept in small herds. Horses learn a lot firstly from their mother and secondly their peers, by keeping them in small herds it allows them to learn discipline and patience from one another, and we find that when they come in to be broken they are unspoilt and very trainable.
They are kept in their age groups, most of the year is spent on the land grazing the fields, we try to keep them outside in the fresh air as much as possible, only bringing them into barns for the worst of the weather over the winter months. As 3yr olds they come into be broken and start their ridden education, usually they are in for 3 months before being turned away again to enjoy the summer grazing, grow and have time to absorb what they learnt. As 4yr olds they start to progress further, but still we prefer to take it slow and give them time to strengthen and develop, most of our horse will not be competed until they turn 5.
William is a co-founder of The Billy Stud and a seasoned international rider with numerous Nations Cup appearances including a European team gold medal with his own Billy Congo. William has spent many years producing and developing many homegrown horses to the pinnacle of the sport. He now uses his wealth of knowledge to identify young horses that have the talent and ability to progress through the Billy Stud Auctions to the top of the sport.
Donal is a co-founder of The Billy Stud, and is the mastermind behind the Stud’s breeding programme. Originally from Co Wexford, Ireland, horses have been in his life since an early age. Donal invested in the very best of Irish bloodlines for the Stud’s foundation mares some 25 years ago, crossing them with supreme continental stallions; he has now created many exceptional breeding lines that have proven themselves worldwide. Never one to sit back, Donal continues to refine the Stud’s bloodlines for the progression of the Stud and to keep British bred horses at the forefront of the modern day sport.
Pippa Funnell is firmly established as one of the world’s leading three day event riders. Her career highlights being the 1st of only 2 riders to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing in 2003. Pippa is a 3 time Olympic medalist and double European champion, as well as having many of the top 5* event titles to her name, including three wins at Badminton.
When Pippa is not busy competing she really enjoys her teaching, bringing on the future generations in all equestrian disciplines. Pippa is part of the selectors for the Wesko Equestrian Foundation bringing on young talented riders and mentoring them as they progress through the sport. Pippa is always on hand to help and educate all the young horse riders working at the stud along with riding and competing many of the Billy horses herself.
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Twenty years after winning her first National Championship with Sir Barnaby, Pippa Funnell is firmly established as one of the world’s leading three day event riders.
Throughout a long career, Pippa has consistently been at the top of 3 Day Eventing having cemented her place back in 2003 when she achieved a landmark record by winning the Rolex Grand Slam (consecutive wins at Rolex Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley). As well as a healthy bonus from Rolex, Pippa earned herself a place in the history books as the first person to achieve this feat.
A year later she broke yet more records when she became the first person to win the Blenheim International Horse Trials for an incredible fourth time. This was followed by success at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where she helped the team to Silver before taking the individual Bronze medal. Her list of achievements has continued to expand, with Pippa repeatedly placing well at all the major events, and includes claiming both the Badminton and Windsor titles on more than one occasion.
With her best selling autobiography and her range of ‘Pippa Funnell’ computer games continuing to top the game sales charts it’s clear that Pippa’s determination, drive and devotion to her sport, is proving an inspiration to many. Pippa’s appeal continues to grow and with the launch of ‘Tilly’s Pony Tails’, her popularity is set to expand further still.
Away from eventing Pippa has also received many awards which include the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Award, the Sports Journalist Association Pat Besford Award for Outstanding Individual Sporting Achievement, as well as being named BBC South’s Sports Personality of the Year and reaching the last five of the overall BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Pippa was awarded an MBE in 2005.
Pippa is married to international show jumper, William Funnell.
Donal was brought up in a farming family in Co Wexford in the heart of Irelands horse industry and from an early age was involved with horses. He went to agricultural college, graduated and farmed pigs commercially for 3 years until he could resist a career with horses no longer.
His first job was with the late Pat Cash, where he spent 3 years learning the business and developing his own unique philosophy and outlook on selection, breeding and training. Being a farmers son and a stock man gives Donal a unique perspective on horses and accounts for ability to see potential in a horse which others may miss.
Donal is recognised as having one of the best eyes in the business. Overall athleticism and conformation is important but Donal also looks at the head and eye to get a real feel for a horse. Donal moved to England 25 years ago to work for one of Pat Cash’s clients near Maidenhead. Donal developed the business and extended his business contacts in England before setting out on his own.
18 years ago he set up on his own from rented dealing yards near Chichester and 10 years ago moved to his current yard in Kirdford, West Sussex. Historically Donal has specialised in eventers although with The Billy Stud he has broadened out into breeding competition horses for all disciplines.
William began riding ponies as a child on the family farm in Ashford, Kent. He was born into a farming and hunting family. When he was not doing farm duties he would ride the family ponies. At the age of 16 he has the choice of leaving school to start farming, or showjumping. When Cyril Light of the Brendon Stud in Sussex offered him a job as second stable jockey to show jumper Simon Trent, he chose the latter option.
He has had success at the highest level in international show jumping, 2013 has been a great year so far, especially with Billy Congo. After finishing 4th in the London leg of the global champions tour, William went on to jump triple clear in Cannes to finish second, and an unlucky pole in the final round in Monte Carlo prevented him winning the class, but another 2nd place finish meant that he moved up to fourth in the global champions tour ranking list, with over £150,000 worth of winnings from the 2013 global tour season alone. William and Billy Congo finished off the summer in style by being part of the Gold medal winning team at the European Championships.
William and Cortaflex Mondriaan joined the elite ranks of three time Hickstead Derby winner adding the 2009 championship to their wins in 2006 and 2008. Last to go in the international arena they achieved the only clear round of the day and the first clear in the Hickstead Derby for five years, a great achievement for William and his team and their sponsors.
William Funnel is a world-renowned show jumping rider with over 20 years experience at the top of his sport. He has won over 20 International titles and has represented his country all over the world at the highest levels.
He has represented Great Britain on 27 different occasions involving 2 European Champonships and has won over 50 International competitions.
William has been bringing on young horses for some 20 years and has his own philosophy on how this should be done.
Young horses need time to mature and should not be rushed. William tries to give them much more time out in the fields so there bones, ligaments and muscles develop as they would in the wild and at a “natural rate”. While this means that they may mature later than horses of similar age which have been brought on quicker Williams feels they have a more substantial foundation of bone and muscle on which to build.
Each horse is brought on slowly and carefully depending to its attitude and development. All the horses undergo similar work at a early age and are not streamed into eventers or show jumpers. This happens at a much later stage with William taking charge of those that may be destined for show jumping and Pippa Funnell managing the development of those that seem to have the latent skill as eventers. Even when streamed William feels that cross discipline work can still help bring a horse on.