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Love at first sight: groom gives rescued mare permanent home

Love at first sight does exist, according to a groom who fell for a rescued mare and has given her a permanent home.

Lilly Richards, who works at the Mare & Foal Sanctuary in Devon, formed a “lasting partnership” with Moonspark India, to the point it would have broken her heart to let the mare go.

India arrived at the charity in 2001, having been found alone and emaciated on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. The 14hh mare was rehomed as a companion but returned to the charity in January 2018 “forlorn and unhappy” after her stable-mate died.

“She came bounding out of the trailer, mane flying everywhere, and then stood in the gateway looking puzzled,” said Lilly.

“I knew she had recently lost her stable-mate and I could feel she desperately needed to form a bond with someone or something.”

A spokesman for the charity said India was “wary” and difficult to catch but Lilly “slowly began to gain her trust”.

“I called to her like I always do with the ponies, not expecting her to come – it’s just habit most of the time. But that day, she looked straight at me and immediately came across the field,” said Lilly.

“She walked calmly over to me, had a good sniff and started to nuzzle me. It was so special.”

Lilly was asked by the charity to complete India’s training.

“All the horses and ponies who come into the sanctuary are allotted a groom to carry out most of their training, allowing them to gain the trust of an animal who may have been traumatised or neglected,” said the spokesman.

“Every day she was getting more and more comfortable with me and she was really starting to enjoy her training. We were having so much fun, long-reining, lunging, going for great walks together on the moors. Before long I began gently started her ridden work and it went so well,” said Lilly.

“It felt like she trusted me and we were becoming a real team. Whenever she was uncertain of anything I would gently reassure her and we’d get past it.”

Lilly said she cannot remember when she realised she “couldn’t let her go”.

“I just knew seeing her leave the yard with someone else would have broken my heart.”



The charity agreed to permanently loan India to Lilly in January and she is now in her “for ever home”.

“Thanks to the support of the sanctuary not only has my dream come true, but I have a beautiful pony who really trusts me,” said Lilly.

“I can’t wait to begin my new life with India. She’s going to be very well looked after.”

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