They say you can lead a horse to water … but this blind mare is being led everywhere by a one-eyed companion who has become her protector.
Angel, a 12-year-old rescue horse, has formed a remarkable bond with Tarna, who shadows her everywhere and gently guides her away from danger.
The pair have become inseparable since meeting at The Horse Trust animal sanctuary in Buckinghamshire.
Angel is fully reliant on Tarna because she lost her sight when she was starved to within an inch of her life at Spindles Farm, Bucks.
The case sparked the largest ever RSPCA equine welfare operation and led farmer James Gray, 47, to be fined £600,000 and banned from keeping horses for life.
Angel is now shadowed every second of the day by Tarna, 28, who herself has only one eye after she was impaled on a metal spike.
Susan Lewis, marketing manager at The Horse Trust, the world’s oldest horse sanctuary, described the unlikely friendship as ”remarkable”.
She said: ”How Tarna knows Angel is blind we’ll never know. She literally shadows Angel everywhere and they go.
”Between the two of them they have just the one eye – it’s incredible. Maybe Tarna, because she has one eye, realised Angel was blind. We don’t know.
”Wherever they go Tarna is there with her good left eye looking out for both of them.
”The two have developed a firm friendship and are now inseparable – Tarna will dig her feet in or cry out if a groom tries to separate the two.
”Tarna is very protective of blind Angel, leading her to food, defending her from other horses and acting as a physical shield from obstacles.
”Once when we separated them so Angel could have her sight tested Tarna was pawing at the door and they were crying out to each other. It was quite distressing.
”It’s incredible to think where they’ve both come from and now, together, there is no reason why they can’t live a happy life.”
Brave Angel was found alongside 143 mistreated and abused horses at Spindles Farm, in Hyde Heath, Bucks., in January 2008.
The RSPCA discovered 32 dead horses and rescued 111 emaciated and starving animals from the farm.
Farmer James Gray, 47, who was found to be responsible for the abuse, was fined £600,000 and banned from keeping horses for life.
The Horse Trust cares for 31 horses rescued from the horror farm and did not at first realise Angel was completely blind.
One-eyed Tarna was handed over to the trust in June 2008 after her elderly owner struggled to cope with her needs.
The pair immediately became close friends and now refuse to be separated for more than a few seconds.
Susan added: ”Angel was in an appalling state I’ve never seen anything like it. Those horses were the closest thing to Belsen concentration camp for animals.
”We didn’t know at the start Angel was completely blind. She had lost her fur and was so skinny because she had to fight for food.
”It seems she went blind because she starved.”
The Horse Trust opened in London in 1886 and is the world’s oldest horse charity.
It now cares for 91 horses at a 200 acre site after moving to Speen, Bucks.