Mary King’s former Olympic eventer turned dressage ace King Solomon III is recovering from lymphangitis after escaping a stable fire.

Paula Lee has owned the 23-year-old Athens medal-winner since Mary gave him to her in 2005.

Since then he has forged a successful second career in pure dressage, competing at advanced medium at British Dressage’s winter championships last April.

“Solly” and four other horses were evacuated from Paula’s yard in Nutwell, Devon, after a serious barn fire on 26 July. None was injured.

Paula said: “The barn across the way from us belongs to the St David’s Equine vet practice, so the horses were stabled there.

“I didn’t think the fire had upset Solly, but he’s a funny old chap and loves his routine.

“Two days later he developed a really aggressive lymphangitis [an inflammation of the lymphatic vessels, often caused by a streptococcal infection]. He was almost colicking with pain and his near hindleg swelled to four times its size.”

The leg became ulcerated, with serum bursting through the skin from King Solomon’s thigh to coronet band.

“I rang Mary and told her that I thought we were going to lose him, but he is such a fighter and after three weeks of improving and dropping back he turned a corner,” said Paula.

“He came home two weeks ago, came off his antibiotics and painkillers last week and is allowed back into walk work shortly — which is great news, as he is getting very naughty to lead out.

“He has an amazing extended trot, even at his age,” she added.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (8September, 2011)