Lofty shares a unique bond with his owner Rosemary Gilligan, which has helped her come to terms with a debilitating illness and given her a new lease of life

Castlerae Prospero or “Lofty“, as he is known belongs to Rosemary Gilligan of Shenley, Herts.

Bred by Rosemary with dressage in mind, this 17hh 11-year-old Irish Draught/Thoroughbred gelding has, in his owner’s words: “Given me a reason to get up.”

Rosemary had to give up riding eight years ago when she was diagnosed with ME. Since then doctors have been unable to give her any idea when, or if, she will ever recover.

Lofty was professionally schooled as a youngster, but since then his education has been erratic and he has mainly been hacked out. Rosemary decided to try riding again and encouraged by friends began short walks around the countryside.

According to Rosemary, Lofty is quite simply “a star“. “I can’t walk very well, but when I ride, I have a real sense of freedom. It can take me a long time to mount and dismount, yet he will stand patiently waiting for me.”

Lofty lives out with Rosemary’s two other horses, except when the weather is really bad when they come in. A friend helps with all the heavy work once a week, but the haying and feeding is all done by Rosemary.

“Lofty brings himself in so I can feed and check him over,” says Rosemary.”Once I’ve finished he turns himself out.”

Although with Rosemary Lofty is nothing short of a saint, his owner says that with others he can be quite cheeky. “I tried to put him out on loan to a dressage yard, but it didn’t work out as he was living in and became a bit of a handful. Once home however, he was back to being a gentle giant.”

Lofty and I have a unique bond, I trust him with my life. Since I began riding him I have become so much happier. Friends andfamily have all noticed a change in me. Without Lofty I would have curled up and never ventured out. He gives me a reason to get up and has improved my life.”