Boo, who had lost an eye to cancer, joined the charity in 2009 after he was shot in his remaining eye by intruders at point-blank range with an air rifle, leaving the gelding completely blind.
“Having been advised that it would be kindest to put him to sleep, his distraught owner rang Redwings to see if the charity could offer Boo a last-minute reprieve and provide him with the specialist care he would need for the rest of his life,” said a spokesman for the charity.
“Thanks to the help of his field companion and ‘seeing eye’ horse Flynn, Boo was able to confidently explore his paddock and would even gallop to the fenceline when he heard his name – an impressive feat for a heavy horse who couldn’t see!”
The spokesman said Boo’s “incredibly friendly nature” and “love of a scratch and cuddle” meant he was very popular with supporters and he would often feature on Redwings Christmas cards and gifts. In 2020 Boo’s story was told in an animation narrated by Stephen Fry which helped raise thousands of pounds in support of the charity’s work.
Boo was put down just before Christmas when it was no longer possible to manage his lameness issues and the arthritis in his hind legs.
“The heartbreaking decision meant he would not face the debilitating discomfort his condition would have inevitably caused and he was put to sleep surrounded by the vet team and other members of Redwings staff who had lovingly cared for him for over a decade,” said the spokesman.
Redwings chief executive Lynn Cutress said the charity is “incredibly sad” to have said goodbye to Boo.
“For me, he summed up just what Redwings is about; providing lifelong specialist care to horses who otherwise would have nowhere else to turn, and through our heartache we take comfort that we were able to give him so many happy years,” she said.
“His story of courage inspired many and he was always so popular with visitors at our open days – and, of course, he lapped up every minute of attention, which was wonderful to see, especially for a horse that had survived such a terrible act of cruelty.”
Ms Cutress said to see Boo’s paddock empty feels “very strange”.
“Boo would regularly be found hanging his head over the fence in the mornings waiting to greet everyone as they arrived for work. When our vets had the unenviable job of breaking the news that we were going to lose him, there was a queue of staff outside the horse hospital as everyone wanted to give him a final cuddle,” she said.
“The sanctuary will simply not be the same without him.”
The spokesman added that Boo’s field companion Flynn is “doing well” and has been introduced to a new friend. In time, the pair will join a new herd together.
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