A Moray horse that survived a life-threatening disease was given a clean bill of health yesterday to join her owner on a charity walk to Scotland’s capital.
Leanne McDonald’s six-year-old Dales-Cob cross, Candy, developed equine grass sickness in July 2013.
The disease causes damage to part of the nervous system and affects the gut which becomes paralysed.
Mrs McDonald self-nursed the black and white mare back to health with small doses of sweet peppermint tea, two-hourly doses of water and a lot of patience.
Now inspired to raise awareness for the disease that could have killed Candy, the 46-year-old decided to walk with her horse from Spey Bay to the Royal Sick School of Veterinary Studies at Edinburgh University.
The pair will spend roughly a month to complete the 289-mile journey and have mapped out a route through the Cairngorms into the central belt using old drover and military roads as much as possible.
Mrs McDonald, of Drybridge, Buckie, said: “We have just had the vet visit for Candy’s last health check, and we set off at 10am on Saturday.
“The Dick Veterinary College has a big ward for nursing horses with grass sickness and has done a lot of research as well so I thought it was an ideal cause.”
The most violent strain of grass sickness can kill a horse within 24 hours.
Candy was given a 50-50 chance of survival after contracting the less-severe chronic strain of the relatively unknown condition.
Covering roughly 10-miles a day, without riding, the pair will journey through Aberlour, Tomintoul, Blair Atholl, Aberfeldy, Callander, Falkirk, Glasgow and finally on to Edinburgh.
Mrs Mcdonald added: “Even if we just save one horse’s life that will make this worth it because it’s a horrible illness.
“The campaign really seems to have snowballed. We have already had people offering to put us up for the night as we pass through their areas.”
Candy has been invited to be guest of honour at the Royal Highland Show in Ingliston on June 21 in the grass sickness parade.
“I’ve never done anything like this in my life, so we are just going to take one day at a time.”
Candy’s plight has already attracted over £2,100 in donations, which can be made by logging onto www.justgiving.com/thefabulousfivesgrasssicknessawarenessrides/