Rescued: October 27, 2008
The entire story of our rescue centre begins with Luceiro, a two-year-old stallion we found locked in a filthy and dark stable, his left eye badly injured and rotting, hurling himself repeatedly against the bars of his filthy stall as flies drove him crazy.
We'd gone to this private Spanish stable yard, where he was being kept, intending to deliver rubber stable matting. At that point, we didn't even have a horse rescue centre. We were just a normal British couple enjoying a sunshine-and-relaxation retirement in Spain.
But everything changed once we laid eyes on Lucerio.
He'd injured his eye on something sharp in his stall and then his owner had apparently lost interest. So there Luceiro had stood for nearly a year in a semi-dark enclosure, his food pushed through the metal bars each day.
We were told he was now considered too crazy to handle and would soon be sent away for dog meat. Rod and I looked at each other and we knew our lives would never be the same again.
Before we could bring Luceiro back to safety, we were forced to have his badly injured left eye surgically removed, as there was no hope of recovery. We also had him castrated.
The other horse owners at this stable yard actually fundraised about €500 to help us cover these veterinarian costs. We often find this is the case – people see a problem and feel powerless, but are willing to take action when someone shows them a solution.
We were also forced to pay Luceiro's owner the amount he would have earned selling this horse for meat.
Then came the day to bring Luceiro home. A crowd of people waited at the stables to see how we would get this wild horse onto our trailer.
We found Luceiro tied between two metal posts, chained from both sides of his head collar. He’d actually been sedated by a veterinarian, but because we were late arriving, the sedation had worn off.
I gave him a treat and that seemed to go down well. We walked away from the crowd for a moment and then he bolted, charging around the side of the stable before pulling up, terrified and unsure what to do.
I gave him a rub and a scratch, then said: “Right. Come on, we can do this mate.” And this wild, crazy animal walked with me like a lamb, past the waiting crowd and straight on the horse trailer.
To this day, I still don’t know why he did it. It was completely out of character and a very special moment of trust.
Then we were off.
We brought Luceiro back to our Spanish finca – and unwittingly created a much-needed horse rescue centre.
Life for Luceiro got harder before it got better. Losing his eye was a great trauma. With humans, you can explain what's happened. But with horses, it's just a case of one day you can see and the next day you can't. No one can explain to them that they will never see again, or how to cope in their new world.
At first, Luceiro would gallop madly about and crash through the fences because, having being confined in tiny spaces all his life, he had no idea of his strength in an open area. If he felt overwhelmed, he’d smash through anything in his path to get back to his stable.
But with lots of time and patience, Luceiro adapted very well to his new environment. He now wants to be part of everything. He has his own field in the back corner of the rescue centre, from which he can watch over everything that happens.
He is an incredibly proud and majestic horse, full of personality, loved by all the mares and a crowd favourite on our open days. Of course, he’s a bit quirky because of the awful start to his life. Yet Luceiro is gentle and full of love.
As a non-profit foundation staffed almost entirely by volunteers, we rely on your donations to continue our work to save horses like Luceiro, and to cover their ongoing feeding and care costs. Find out how you can help here.