By DANIEL MILLER
Bond: Emma Smith, 23, lost her year-long battle with leukaemia just a day after her beloved horse Lavender passed away from a rare form of colic
A loyal horse died of a 'broken heart' just a day before its young owner tragically passed away from leukaemia.
Emma Smith, 23, of Minster, Kent, died on January 20 almost a year to the day she was diagnosed with the condition.
Her beloved horse Lavender died a day earlier from a rare form of colic, despite having never been ill in her life.
According to Emma's parents Julie, 52 and Malcolm, 57, the horse and rider shared a 'special', intuitive bond, which makes them believe Lavender knew something was seriously wrong.
Tragic: Emma had just graduated from university and set up her own business selling animal feeds when she was diagnosed with the condition
Emma’s mother Julie, 52, said: 'Lavender had never been ill before, the vets couldn’t explain it, we think must have been a broken heart.
'Emma used to always be there looking after her and she hadn’t been because of her illness.
'Emma brought her on right from a baby, when we got her she had been broken in but was still very young, Emma taught her everything she knew.
'It broke our hearts, losing Emma. Lavender was part of our family for eight years and she had given so much pleasure to Emma. She lived for her horses.'
When the family bought Lavender eight years ago the horse was unruly and frequently escaped her field, but when everyone else gave up patient Emma kept working with her.
Emma only rode her twice after she started chemotherapy early in 2011 and her family believe the loyal steed had been simply been unable to live without its owner.
Showgirls: Emma was 15 when she got Lavender and the pair had competed in several competitions together
Mrs Smith added: 'Lavender was a beautiful horse to look at but when we got her she was a real handful, she had a mind of her own and she would never stay in her field.
'But Emma was patient with her and refused to send her back, she was very dedicated to her.
'Right to the day she was diagnosed she was still riding and caring for her horses, they were her passion and she wouldn’t let anything get in the way.
'After she started chaemo she still managed to go out on Lavender twice, it was difficult for her to do but she just loved her so much.
'The whole time she was in hospital all she wanted to be at home with us and the horses.'
Tamed: Lavender had been extremely difficult to handle at first and would frequently escape her field but Emma persevered
Riding horses had been Emma’s passion since she took up the hobby when she was aged just four.
She got her first pony aged eight and was just 15 when she got Lavender.
The pair had competed in several shows together.
Mrs Smith said: 'If the disease hadn’t stopped her she definitely would have continued to compete. She was aiming to make it to the horse of the year show, she always wanted to go to the top.
'It was a real shock for her to be diagnosed, she had just graduated from university and set up her own business selling animal feeds.'