Grass sickness research

  • A woman with a rare bone disease has published her mother’s novel about their lucky horse to raise money for the Equine Grass Sickness Fund.

    Jennifer Thomson, from Kilmarnock in Scotland, became concerned about grass sickness when her mare, Maxi, contracted the disease while in foal in 1998. Contrary to her vet’s prognosis, both the foal and the part-Thoroughbred mare survived.

    Jennifer said: “It was touch and go as she was at death’s door. It was a miracle they both survived.”

    Her mother, Shona, wrote a book called “Maxi’s Angels” about the ordeal — and the involvement of a horse whisperer in the mare’s recovery. Jennifer set up a web site to promote it, donating “at least £1” from each sale to the Equine Grass Sickness Fund. The 21-year-old has published, printed, and dispatched nearly 400 books so far.

    Jennifer also organised a charity show in Ayrshire in November last year, raising £900. But on the day of the show — and two weeks before her 21st birthday — she developed symptoms that were later diagnosed as a degenerative bone disease.

    “My legs started aching and my feet swelled by two sizes in one day. Now the discs in my spine are disintegrating so unless I’m able to recruit volunteers I won’t be able to organise a show for September as I had hoped,” she said.

    The plucky Scotswoman said that falling ill made her even more determined to raise funds for grass sickness, so she is launching the novel throughout the UK.

    “I’ve arranged for Robinson Equestrian stores to retail the book, and I’m in discussion with other tack shops aswell,” she said.

    More than £2,800 has been raised to date, a proportion of which has also gone to the Glasgow Vet School, which treated Maxi, and Brooke Hospital.

    To purchase a copy of the hardback book at £12.99 visit: www.maxisangels.co.uk

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