Lucy, a part-bred Lusitano mare, has transformed her owner’s life during the two years they have been together

Sharon Swain, 30, has been battling depression since she was 16 years old. Anti-depressants seemed a way of life until Lucy, a seven-year-old black part-bred Lusitano mare, became part of the family two years ago.

“Owning Lucy has totally transformed Sharon’s outlook on life,” says Peggy Postma, a friend who nominated Lucy for the award.

Sharon, who had always wanted to own a Lusitano, saw Lucy advertised in a local paper in Suffolk.

“When I first brought her home to Kent, I thought I had made the worst mistake of my life,” explains Sharon. “Although I had ridden for years, Lucy was the first horse I had owned and she was a real minx to handle – walking calmly beside you one minute and charging off the next.

“But now I simply can’t image life without her. Lucy is really loyal and hates it if I have to go away and leave other people look after her. She makes me feel needed and has become my whole life.

“She’s a bit of Houdini however – she can undo almost any knot – and if you leave mucking out tools outside her stable she will fling them across the yard,” says Sharon.

“Lucy may not be a super competition horse, but she’s a real friend and will always have a go at things. She loves going down to the beach to relax, which I also enjoy.

“Although she’s not normally a cuddly horse, Lucy can sense my moods and when I’m feeling a bit down, she rests her chin on my shoulder and cheers me up.

“For the first time since my 16th birthday I’m off all my medication, and I haven’t been in hospital for more than 12 months. It’s all thanks to Lucy.”