Horse sold for 80p set to jump for Ireland at contest
A horse bought for pennies and saved from the knacker's yard is now worth tens of thousands of pounds and is due to represent Ireland in a world championship showjumping competition later this year.
Geraldine Graham bought the animal unseen after the previous owner decided he did not want her anymore because the animal had such a bad allergy to midges she could not be broken.
The superstitious animal-lover did not want to take the horse without some form of payment, so she handed over a £5 note she had in her pocket.
But the previous owner handed her back a €5 note, meaning that Geraldine paid just 80p for the animal.
Two days later, the horse was in her new home at Lenamore Stables in Muff, Co Donegal, just across the border from Londonderry, where Geraldine put her lifetime of knowledge of horses into caring for the animal, which she named Lenamore Lucy Lou.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Geraldine told how the horse struggled in the early days because of her disorder.
She said: "The horse had a condition called sweet itch, which is a severe reaction to midge bites. So this poor animal was covered in blisters and was in a pretty miserable state altogether."
Geraldine also described how she helped Lenamore Lucy Lou after deciding she could overcome the animal's skin problems and turn her life around.
And she said the Donegal location helped too.
"For two months, I bathed the horse in water a few times a day and fed her garlic to purify her blood," she added.
"But the fact that we live so close to the Atlantic and have fewer midges helped too.
"Once we had her skin healthy, we were able to begin to break her in. Then eventually, Kenneth, my son, was able to ride her.
"The horse is very intelligent and quite feisty, and she wasn't going to be the easiest of animals, but Kenneth has a temperament that complimented her. He is calm and quiet, and she responded to him so well."
Geraldine said the bond between her son and the horse was the stuff legends were made of.
"There is such a wonderful rapport between the two of them," she said. "They are each so in tune with the other that it is incredible to watch.
"Kenneth has had great success with the horse since we have had her, but getting selected to represent Ireland in the Young Horse World Championship is the icing on the cake."
The man who previously owned Lenamore Lucy Lou is a good friend of Mrs Graham and has watched her success with interest.
Geraldine said he was fully behind her and was very pleased to see the horse make such amazing progress.
She added: "The friend I bought the horse from is just delighted she is getting on so well. Because he bred Lenamore Lucy Lou, he is still able to share in her success."
Story so far
Showjumper Lenamore Lucy Lou was unwanted by her original owner, who also bred her, because the horse could not be broken.
This was because she developed a severe allergy to midges, which made it impossible to ride her.
But current owner Geraldine Graham spent months treating the animal, which is now heading for a world championship event.