‘He has given me more than any horse’: rehomed star named horse of the year

A rescued horse who helped his rehomer through serious illness has been named as World Horse Welfare’s rehomed horse of the year 2018.

Il Tintoretto (“Tinto”) arrived at the charity in 2005 as one of a group of horses who were not receiving the care they needed.

He underwent rehabilitation at the charity’s Belwade Farm base in Aberdeenshire and was rehomed by Fiona Bell six weeks after he was backed.

“I was considering buying a horse, but my friend had rehomed from World Horse Welfare so persuaded me to consider doing the same,” explained Fiona.

“We went to Belwade Farm to look at two other horses and while I was there I looked up to see Tinto standing at the top of a hill, almost as if he was saying ‘Look at me!’.”

The horse developed into a lovely all-rounder and the pair have enjoyed showjumping, cross-country, dressage and beach rides over the past 14 years.

“We’ve had an amazing amount of fun together. Tinto has given me more than any horse I’ve ever owned,” she added.

Fiona became ill in 2014 and was advised that she could keep riding, but should not jump as there could be serious implications from injuries.

“We continued to have lessons and he instinctively seemed to know he had to take special care of me during that time,” she said.

“It seemed fitting that the first event we took part in after my recovery was the Royal Highland Show doing a demonstration for World Horse Welfare.”

Now aged 23, Tinto has retired, but has a home for life with Fiona.

“I thought entering him into the ‘best friend’ category [of the charity’s awards] was the perfect way of highlighting what Tinto means to me and how much I valued the support he had given me during my illness.

“I was delighted and amazed that judge DJ Sara Cox chose him and then to find out he was the overall winner was incredible. We were so thrilled!”

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Sara added Tinto’s story sums up “how special and rewarding” it can be to rehome a horse.

“Tinto has found a loving home and in return has given so much back to his rehomer over the years, from competing at shows to being there for her as she battled illness,” she said.

“I love how it’s now time, after giving so much love, for Tinto to relax and enjoy his retirement. A beautiful bond and an everlasting friendship that deserves to be celebrated!”

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