A popular heavy horse, who rescued from horrific neglect 14 years ago, has died aged 20 (6 January).

The 17hh horse, called Gracie May, was rescued by the Bristol-based charity HorseWorld in May 2001 after the RSPCA found her in a terrible state.

“Gracie was living among the carcasses of four other horses. We think that she only survived as she was tall enough to pick leaves from surrounding trees overhanging the high fences,” said Joanne Vaughan, HorseWorld’s equine husbandry manager.

“The owner (who has since been prosecuted by the RSPCA) had partially burnt the corpses in an gracie2attempt to cover up his neglect and because of his aggressive attitude, armed police had to assist in this rescue.”

Joanne added that Gracie May had been in “an horrific state”.

“She was extremely thin and had lost 90% of her body hair due to a chronic lice infestation,” she added.

“She was emaciated to the point where the ribs, breast bone and pelvic area were extremely prominent.”

Gracie May made a full recovery and after being backed was rehomed on HorseWorld’s loan scheme. She was the most popular horse on the charity’s adoption scheme.

Due to intermittent lameness issues in her front legs, Gracie retired from ridden work in 2008 and after Gracie in snowspending many years as a very popular resident at HorseWorld’s visitor centre she moved to the charity’s welfare department, where she had a happy and quiet retirement in the field.

Last September Gracie developed problems in her hind legs and when medication and treatment couldn’t offer any pain relief, she was put to sleep on 6 January.

“Gracie was a horse in a million” said Vicky Greenslade who worked with her for many years.

“HorseWorld won’t be the same without her. She was a fun loving gentle giant. She loved people and everyone loved her. She will be greatly missed and will leave a Shire-sized hole in our lives.”

For more information visit www.horseworld.org.uk