I just learned today that the horse Blanco, who played Shadowfax in the Lord of the Rings, passed away.
Blanco was a beautiful horse, spirited and willing, truly worthy of the role as Shadowfax the Lord of Horses.
Here is Blanco with his owner Cynthia Royal:
(Facebook – Cynthia Royal)
If you have never seen LOTR, Shadowfax is the stunning white horse which Gandalf rides. The books describe him as a silvery-grey horse that is the Lord of all Horses, capable of understanding human speech. He was incredibly fast and strong, but so spirited that he could never truly be tamed by men. He was owned by the Lord of Rohan, and eventually given to Gandalf who bonds with the animal and is able to ride him. It is due to Shadowfax’s strength and speed that Gandalf is able to make it to many places in time and through many battles. It is believed that Shadowfax goes with Gandalf across the Sea and into the West.
Below is the letter from Blanco’s owner about his final days and passing:
Dear Family, Friends, Fans and Followers,
Over the past few months, my equine friend, partner, teacher and guide ‘Blanco’ – known around the world for his staring role as Shadowfax in the Lord of The Rings movies – suddenly and without warning fell critically ill. During this time, he required an array of urgent medical care and a lengthy stay in a horse hospital.
A battery of tests were performed which pointed to inconclusive, but none-the-less extremely serious issues with his intestinal tract and liver. To my dismay, this left the exact nature of his illness, as well as the best method of treatment, an illusive guess at best. As a result, a host of supportive therapies – from conventional to alternative – were provided, in addition, to an outpouring of healing energy, prayers and blessings that came in from his fans and supporters all over the world.
While Blanco was in the hospital, my family and I visited him daily, so he would continue to know that he was loved and supported even though he was away from home. Some days, he was distant – a physical shell devoid of the opinionated Blanco I’ve known so well. Other days he would rally as soon as he heard my whistle from afar. On those days we’d go on short walks together, allowing for scratches, hugs and a few nibbles of the green grass on the hospital’s lawn.
One day in particular toward the end of his hospital stay, Blanco returned to his old enthusiastic self, demonstrated by an alert ‘head’s up’ and a loud and joyful whinny to see me. After the hospital staff disconnected him from the IV, he snacked on carrots I’d brought him from home and we went for a long walk around the hospital grounds, even doing a little trotting in unison. When we arrived back at his stall, I told him if he continued to feel better, that we planned to bring him home the following day to continue his rehabilitation there.
Early the next morning, I received a call from one of the many vets overseeing Blanco’s case, informing me that he had taken a turn for the worse overnight and that I should come to the hospital right away. When I approached Blanco’s stall, he was in an obvious state of shut-down and distress – a situation I know well from recent experience with my own life-threatening illness. So, after stepping into his stall, I laid my head on his back and placed my hand over his heart for a few moments of meditative connection. Then, while kneeling down by his side, I asked Blanco if it was his ‘time’. Without a second of hesitation, he turned his head to me, looked me straight in the eye and at that moment, I knew he was ready.
While the decision was made to help Blanco transition, due to safety concerns the hospital had a strict policy of not allowing non-staff to be present during euthanasia. This was something I was simply unwilling to accept, as I knew my duty to to Blanco and our extraordinary relationship would not be complete without being able to be present to support him during this final leg of his earthly journey.
Instead of allowing him to be taken away to an isolated room to die with strangers, they agreed to euthanize him in his stall and allow me to be by his side – as long as I could persuade him to lay down on his own. Although it took several tries and lots of encouragement due to his severely weakened state, Blanco gave me the gift by laying down for me one last time in response to my gentle request. Although my heart was breaking, as my final gift to him, I stayed strong, balanced and focused, gently repeating, “Relax Blanco. Let go. Walk into the light. Relax and let go” as the Blanco I’ve known so well and loved so deeply slipped away.
While this leg of Blanco’s journey has passed and my heart still aches, I will live in peace knowing we gave our all to aid in his recovery. We spared no effort nor expense, even though doing so in conjunction with the on-going expenses of my own health challenges has placed an additional financial burden on my family.
So, if seeing Blanco in the movies or in one of our many videos, clinics or appearances has touched your heart or inspired you in any way, I invite you to make a donation in memory of Blanco that will help us pay for his extensive medical care. In doing so, your show of support will mean Blanco’s message that we have love and compassion not only toward our horses, but with each other, will truly come full circle.
In gratitude ~ Cynthia Royal and family
Vet care for horses is very expensive. If you feel so called, you can help donate to Blanco’s medical fund here.
Goodbye Blanco! We here at FT miss you!
- Cola and Fizz