Udon P, Kelly Layne’s Olympic, World Games Prospect for Australian Team, Dies of Heart Failure

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Kelly Layne competing Udon P at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida in 2015. © SusanJStickle.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Oct. 14, 2020–Udon P, the horse that Kelly Layne rode to become a top prospect for the 2016 Australian Olympic team, died Wednesday from a fatal arrhythmia, a condition that led to emotional “heart” freestyle performances.

“We are in total shock,” Kelly said of the 19-year-old KWPN gelding (Hierarch x Uniform) that she and Whistlejack Farm had owned until 2018.

Kelly, based in Wellington with her American husband, Steve, began competing Udon, nicknamed “Noodles,” in 2013 after the horse was acquired from Canada’s Chris Von Martels.

The pair were successful at Big Tour and were preparing to head to Europe in spring 2014 as the third ranked Australian combination behind the Germany based cousins, Kristy and Lyndal Oatley, to seek selection for the Australian team for the World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

However, Udon was diagnosed with arrhythmia in testing at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the United States’ top equine medical centers.

In January 2015, Kelly and Udon debuted a Grand Prix Freestyle created by British composer Gary Patterson to celebrate the horse’s recovery and return to the international competition arena. Among the tunes were Tin Man’s “If I Only Had a Heart” from the Wizard of Oz and Céline Dion’s “My heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic.”

“I feel a little emotional when riding him and cherish every day I get to sit on this sensitive and generous athlete,” she told dressage-news.com at the time. “For such an enormous horse it is amazing how he is able to propel himself off the ground.”

The pair were successful in competing mostly in Wellington throughout 2015 and the first half of 2016.

Kelly and Udon went to Europe in May 2016 to participate in Australian selection events.

However, an old splint issue flared up again and although under saddle the horse did not display symptoms, Kelly withdrew Udon from consideration.

Kelly competed Udon through the 2017 Global winter circuit. Anne Barrett took over the ride later that year, competing at Small and Medium Tour in May 2019.