Two much-loved horses have perished together in a stable blaze in South Yorkshire which has left their owner devastated.
Trisha Harker, aged 49, was alerted to the blaze in the early hours of yesterday, and arrived at the stable to find both her beloved horses dead.
Firefighters had raced to the scene too, but were unable to save the animals - a dappled grey Irish sport horse called Sky and a heavyweight cob called Raffles.
Raffles, aged 20, was crowned fourth in the national Horse of the Year contest in 2009.
And Trisha, from Elsecar, used to compete with 14-year-old Sky in cross-country, showjumping and dressage competitions.
A fire service investigation into the blaze is underway but initial thoughts are that it started accidentally.
Firefighters said one possibility is that one of the horses, which had been re-shoed that day, may have kicked the stable wall and inadvertantly created a spark.
But devastated Trisha said she is suspicious about the cause of the blaze.
She is urging local residents to come forward if they saw or heard anything.
“I believe it was one of two things - arson, or an accident because of someone sleeping rough down there,” she said. “I don’t think it was a spark from a shoe.
“If it was arson I want other horse owners to be aware this has happened.
“Those horses were my life, and I feel like I haven’t got a life now they have gone. Horses are all I know.”
Trisha said both horses were well loved by a circle of family, friends and helpers.
“There were so many people around them who loved them - they were treated like royalty,” she added.
“I can’t believe what has happened – I just feel numb and in shock.”