'World's oldest horse' dies aged 50 at Essex sanctuary

Orchid with Sue Burton Image copyright Remus Horse Sanctuary/Caters
Image caption Staff celebrated Orchid's 50th birthday in January

A horse believed by its owners to be the oldest in the world has died at the animal sanctuary which took it in after years of neglect.

Remus Horse Sanctuary in Ingatestone, Essex, said Orchid had been "badly beaten and starved of food" before it was rescued by the shelter.

Founder Sue Burton said the mare gained weight and strength within weeks of its arrival in June 2014.

Orchid had to be put down after it was unable to recover from a bout of colic.

Image copyright Remus Horse Sanctuary
Image caption Staff said Orchid would "bang on her stable door for her breakfast" and raspberries were "a particular treat"

Ms Burton said it was a "devastating decision" but "we have to do what is right for the animals".

Orchid had been used as a brood mare and "was discarded when her usefulness ended," according to the shelter.

Dr Jo Ireland, equine veterinary researcher at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket in Suffolk, said: "Estimates in the UK suggest that only 2% of our equine population are over the age of 30 years, so up to 50 years of age is considered very old and would definitely be equivalent to a 'super centenarian' in human terms."

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