A horsewoman has been reunited with a thoroughbred she rescued more than 20 years ago.

In 1996, Jane Barham attended a farm auction near her home in Northamptonshire.

At the auction she discovered former racehorse Koo and her foal in distress in a stable. Koo was emaciated and in a state of severe neglect.

“She would have certainly been dead in a matter of days,” said Ms Barham. “It was a pitiful sight and even men were crying at the scene.

“I managed to purchase them and they were transported back to the yard.

“I was told that the police and RSPCA were called by several people at the sale, but they came to my base to see her shortly after she arrived.

“I remember the officer being very moved when she caught sight of Koo and her foal. She said it was the worst case of equine neglect she had seen.”

Gradually Koo and her filly Stark Reality (Charlie), made progress and Charlie was weaned.

A year later Ms Barham took Koo to the British Thoroughbred Retaining Centre (BTRC).

“I knew she would have protection for life and would never suffer as she had,” she said.

“I thought I would never see her again, but I was informed that she had a super farm home and wanted for nothing.”

Ms Barham kept Charlie, who was later evented by British-based Swedish rider Anna Lidar.

When Charlie retired from eventing, she moved to Sweden with Anna’s groom, Hanna Jupen.

“Charlie settled well in Sweden and I visited and saw her competing,” said Ms Barham.

She was a happy horse. Sadly she had to be put down at the age of 17 due to back problems.”

Ms Barham often thought of Koo and the hardship she had gone through, but took comfort in the knowledge that she was in good hands.

Out of the blue in November last year Ms Barham received a letter from Koo’s current owner stating that she was still alive.

Ms Barham was invited to visit the mare, who is now 31.

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“I went almost straight away,” she said. “It was so emotional and she looked fantastic and had so much energy.

“I couldn’t believe she was still alive. I spent two days with Koo and the BTRC where her owner Wendy Rodgers is now keeping her.

“Wendy has been tremendous for Koo. Koo has wanted for nothing; has had an amazing life and is so contented.”