A cob rescued by the Blue Cross has given an injured rider the confidence to get back in the saddle.
Mario, a six-year old coloured cob, was the incentive that Fiona Bloomfield needed to get back into riding after an accident left her with a fractured spine.
Fiona was riding last year when an unadvertised clay pigeon shoot spooked her horse, with Fiona falling to the ground. Had she not been wearing a body protector, it's likely she would've been paralysed.
Fiona spent the following six months in a full body brace as her broken body slowly healed and the drive to ride again helped push her through rehabilitation.
Mario had already found a loving new home through the Blue Cross adoption scheme, but sadly his guardian's circumstances changed and he needed to find another family.
Blue Cross arranged for Fiona to meet Mario and the bond was instantaneous. Shortly afterwards he went to live with the Bloomfield family.
Fiona says: “The first time I got on him after I brought him home, I was only just getting back in the saddle after my accident.
"We went out for a hack and I literally held my breath the whole way round, waiting for something to jump out of the bushes. I think I wanted to see the monsters before he did.
“I still felt like a china doll, like I was going to smash if I hit the floor again. But he never did, and every day just got easier and easier.”
Since then, Mario has become the perfect family pony, coming away with eight ribbons at his first gymkhana with Fiona’s children who are aged five and 11.
National pet charity, Blue Cross has two specialist horse rehoming centres at Burford and Rolleston and 11 Centres nationwide. To find out more about the pets needing a home, or to make a donation towards their care, visit www.bluecross.org.uk