THIS horse proved to be a real star after becoming among the first in the world to undergo pioneering surgery.
Paul Newby, 33, was devastated when he discovered his six-year-old horse Star had a rare form of cancer in her mouth.
After taking her for a series of tests, he was told she had ameloblastoma of the mandible – a rare tumour in her bottom jaw.
Determined not to give up hope on his horse, Paul’s vet Kathy Uprichard, of Blythmans, contacted pioneering surgeons at Glasgow University to see if they could help.
They offered to carry out a delicate and dangerous operation to remove Star’s bottom jaw, taking out the tumour.
Paul, of Humbledon, said: “Last January, I started noticing a swelling around her mouth and thought it was an abscess or she had been kicked in the field.
“Soon it became the size of an apple and it started to spread so I took her to the vets and had a biopsy done and the results came back showing she had cancer.
“I was told I had two choices. I could either leave it, but I was told her days would be numbered, or go to Glasgow and have the operation.
“It was a gamble because there was still a massive risk with the operation because she might not have pulled through, but I had to go for it.”
Skilled surgeons spent four hours with Star on the operating table as they carefully removed the tumour and lower jaw.
Reconstructive surgery was then carried out to stretch the skin from her mouth underneath the jaw to prevent it from drooping.
Despite the dangers, Star pulled through and is now back at her Whitburn stables where she is recovering.
“It’s such a huge relief because I honestly thought I was going to lose her,” said Paul, who started riding when he was 10.
“She’s only the fifth horse in the world to have this surgery and when they actually removed the tumour it was the size of a melon.”
Paul has started riding Star, who has won trophies in showjumping including a competition just weeks before her operation, and hopes to enter her into competitions again this summer.
“She was only a young horse and had such potential,” he said. “I had to give her a chance and she’s recovered unbelievably well.
“I’m so grateful to my vet Kathy and the surgeons at Glasgow because without them she probably wouldn’t be here now.”