Daisy was found wandering the streets of Chessington, in Surrey. Gwen and Phyllis were both abandoned while pregnant on nearby Send Common. Ocean is frightened of women. Ernie had bitten a man’s face and was full of anger. ''I shouldn’t have a favourite,’’ says actress Jenny Seagrove, pointing out some of the 24 horses grazing in the shelter of the surrounding Surrey Hills. ''But, ahh, Grimbo,’’ she says, gently stroking a skewbald miniature Shetland with an adorable quiff, ''you are my main man.’’
Grimbo, rescued from a dealer’s yard, is far too cool to acknowledge such fawning – even if it is by Seagrove, 57, one of Britain’s best-loved actresses, who made her name in Local Hero, but is perhaps more familiar from her long-standing role in the television series Judge John Deed. Grimbo stands peaceably, as do the other horses, treating Seagrove as an equal part of the herd at the Mane Chance Sanctuary, outside Guildford.
Seagrove set up this centre on borrowed farmland four years ago – with help from philanthropist Simrin Choudhrie – to rescue abandoned horses, but quickly realised that the animals could develop a reciprocal role as what she calls a ''healing herd’’.