After their prolonged efforts to save a beloved horse failed in early 2018, Jane Lipington and Donald MacIntyre accepted that she would die in a matter of minutes. As a result, the English horse owners felt it only fair to let her equine partner and stablemate to say his goodbyes. It was long faces all round but then something miraculous happened.
Lipington, 60, and her husband MacIntyre, 68, own a farm at Langridge, near Bath in Somerset, England. The pair share their land with many animals, including 23 Shire horses. The married team has reared this rare breed for the last ten years. Consequently, the couple greatly value each and every one of their equine charges.
So it must have come as quite a blow when they came across one of them in deep distress in January 2018. Despite having so many in their stud, Lipington and MacIntyre still had their favorite steeds. One of them was a female named Beatrice. Later that month, MacIntyre spoke to U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail about the horse, saying, “She’s the best mare we have.”
With that in mind, Lipington and MacIntyre were understandably concerned when they entered Beatrice’s stable one morning to find her lying in a heap on the floor. The 16-year-old horse had collapsed following a bout of crippling abdominal pain due to colic.
Given that Beatrice weighed more than a ton, the pressure of her body on her legs had caused her limbs to lose sensation. As a result, she was unable to stand up on her own. But Lipington and MacIntyre knew that if the mare didn’t move soon, there would be fatal consequences for the animal.
The longer she remained on the floor, the more dangerous pressure Beatrice would place on her internal organs. Consequently, the prostrated mare’s temperature began to plummet while her heart rate rose. If Lipington and MacIntyre could not get the mare back on her feet, it was likely that her organs would fail.
So it became a horse race against time. For hours, the couple tried everything in their power to shift their beloved animal. They recruited four of their farm workers to come and help with the effort to right the mare. Moreover, they were even driven to try pulling Beatrice to her feet using a tractor.
But it was all to no avail; nothing that the team attempted worked. As time ticked by, it looked increasingly likely that they would not be able to lift Beatrice. So Lipington and MacIntyre grimly agreed that if they hadn’t succeeded within six hours, they would make a call to the vet. With the heaviest of hearts, the equestrian breeders would arrange for the beleaguered Beatrice to be put down.
But, with their self-imposed cut-off point at hand, Lipington and MacIntyre then realized something. What with being so wrapped up in the stricken mare situation, the couple had let their routine slide. They hadn’t let Beatrice’s stablemate, Beau, out of his enclosure yet. So the pair belatedly opened up the 11-year-old’s door, allowing him to access the yard beyond.
However, when Lipington and MacIntyre opened the gate to the stallion’s stall, it became evident that Beau had no intentions of going into the yard. Instead, he made a beeline for where Beatrice lay and began to gently nuzzle the mare over the wooden partition to her part of the stable.
And it was little wonder, Beatrice and Beau had quite a history. The stallion had been quietly watching the failed attempts to get his partner of ten years back on her feet. In light of their special bond, Lipington and MacIntyre now stepped back to allow the pair to have some final moments together. However, that is when the miracle occurred.
All of a sudden, Beau grabbed on to the mare’s halter with his teeth and strained his neck upwards, shaking at the strap. He succeeded in lifting Beatrice’s head off the ground. The stallion repeated this action a few times, as Lipington, MacIntyre and their team looked on in amazement.
Recalling the astonishing scenes, Lipington told the Daily Mail, “He then lifted… her into a more upright position.” She continued, “He lifted her so that her chest and legs came up off the ground. With a little encouragement from us, she got shakily to her feet and we quickly walked her out into the yard, trying to stop her falling down.”
So, in just ten minutes, Beau had succeeded where Lipington, MacIntyre and their hired hands had failed for six hours. Amazingly, the stallion had brought back the mare from the brink of death. The owners had already called the vet to put Beatrice down. Now they had the happy task of calling again to cancel the procedure.
Lipington and MacIntyre believe it was because of Beau and Beatrice’s amazing bond that he was able to save her life. “They have a pretty long-term relationship with each other,” MacIntyre explained to the Daily Mail. He also added that it was a fruitful partnership, revealing, “They’ve had four foals together.”
The breeder expanded on Beau and Beatrice’s alliance. “They’re just always together and they don’t really mix with the other horses,” he explained. “They bicker a lot. Beau is a big, muscular and strong stallion, but he gets pushed around by Beatrice. She always gets the food first.”
However, Beau and Beatrice are not equine anomalies in enjoying a stable relationship. No matter the size of their particular troop, horses are widely believed to prefer just one or two social partners. These “friends” go on to form a special affiliation. They are observed to spend a lot of their time together and always prefer to sleep close to one another.
But expert Duncan Ballard of B&W Equine Vets, based in Failand close to nearby Bristol, was prepared to go further when discussing the Langridge lovers. He informed the Daily Mail that, in his opinion, Beau’s actions proved that horses are capable of more emotionally demanding relationships. “To come across a horse that actually physically grabbed another in the way Beau did to Beatrice is incredibly rare,” he said. “Shire horses are known to be emotionally intelligent and that certainly is the case with Beau.”
Beatrice’s owners later confirmed that the mare had since made a full recovery. However, the couple remained amazed at how Beau had saved his mate’s life that day. Lipington told the Daily Mail, “It is absolutely astonishing. We were prepared to lose her… but Beau knew what to do.” She added, “I guess they look after each other.”
The still incredulous Lipington continued, “We are used to seeing extraordinary interactions between the horses. But we have never witnessed a horse saving another’s life.” She and MacIntyre were obviously thankful, and very grateful to their stallion. As Lipington went on to say, “Beau achieved what six hours of human endeavor with straps and machinery had failed to. He managed to lift Beatrice up off the floor which has allowed her to live on.”