How a rescued horse helped Marshland St James woman overcome her grief
- Credit: ©Steve Bardens
A grieving mother from Marshland St James found the companionship of a rescued horse helped her cope with the death of her beloved daughter.
Amanda Gaughran's world was torn apart when she lost Genna at the age of just 26, in 2012.
As she grappled with depression, her husband Ed and and son Phillip wondered it might help if Mrs Gaughran, 56, who already owned two horses, took on another.
National pet charity Blue Cross was looking for homes for 70 animals which had been rescued.
Jasmine, now 11, was among them. Factory worker Mrs Gaughran, said as soon as she arrived, in November 2014, she made a difference to her life.
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"We've got other horses but she's the one who seemed to know when something was wrong," she said. "She was more perceptive than the others were.
"Jasmine seemed to understand. I'd go in there and cry in her mane and give her a cuddle, and she'd nuzzle me as if to say: 'Everything's going to be okay, mum.
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"She followed me everywhere. On good days she would look at me out of those big kind eyes and I swear she was smiling at me. On bad days she would come to me and with a gentle nudge would remind me she was there for me.
"She seemed to feel what you were feeling and understand what you were going through, maybe because she'd been through something similar herself.
"Gradually I recovered from the depression. Although I miss Genna terribly, I know she wouldn't want my life to stop because of her.
"Caring for Jasmine gave me a purpose. We rescued each other in our times of need. I think she was sent to help me. It proves what great healers horses can be."
National pet charity Blue Cross has launched a report which calls on the Government to recognise the role animals can play in people's wellbeing.
The report, Link in the Chain, examines the impact poverty, mental health problems and loneliness have on society and how animals are a crucial link for many people.
Among its recommendations, Blue Cross is calling for community mental health teams to recognise a patient's relationship with their pet in any psychological and psychiatric assessments and make sure this is reflected in care plans.