Farmers Donald MacIntyre and his wife Jane Lipington feared the worst when they found mare Beatrice prostrate in her stable in Bath.
She had severe abdominal pain due to equine colic and her one-tonne weight had made her legs go dead. She could not get up and was at risk of fatal organ failure if she stayed on the ground.
The owners – who have 23 of the rare-breed horses – and four farm hands spent six hours trying in vain to turn and lift the 17-year-old mare using a tractor and straps.
As Beatrice’s temperature rose to dangerous levels and her heart rate dropped, they sadly agreed a deadline for her to be put down. Twenty minutes before the allocated time they decided to let her 12-year-old mate Beau say his goodbyes. He had been watching quietly from the next stall all day, refusing to eat.
The stallion leaned over the stable door and started nipping at Beatrice, getting hold of her halter with his teeth and shaking it. He then lifted her head up and helped the shaky horse into a more upright position, with the rescuers assisting. Jane, 61, said: “It is absolutely astonishing. We were prepared to lose her but Beau knew what to do. They have a close relationship, they are always together and don’t really mix with other horses.
“As we walked Beatrice round, we called the vet and he was astounded. We are used to seeing extraordinary interactions between the horses but we have never witnessed one saving another’s life before. Beau achieved what six hours of human endeavour with straps and machinery had failed to.
“He managed to lift Beatrice up off the floor, which has allowed her to live on.”
Beatrice has made a full recovery from her illness in January 2018, thanks to the help of her “husband” of 10 years. The happy couple have since had a second foal together.