Sad news for "Lord of the Rings" fans: a horse named Blanco that played the role of the wizard Gandalf's steed "Shadowfax" has passed away. 

According to owner Cynthia Royal, the decision to euthanize Blanco came after his health, already suffering from a prolonged illness, took a turn for the worse. 

"A battery of tests were performed which pointed to inconclusive, but none-the-less extremely serious issues with his intestinal tract and liver," she wrote in an open letter posted to TheOneRing fan site. "To my dismay, this left the exact nature of his illness, as well as the best method of treatment, an illusive guess at best. As a result, a host of supportive therapies – from conventional to alternative – were provided, in addition, to an outpouring of healing energy, prayers and blessings that came in from his fans and supporters all over the world."

Royal says she knew the time had come to part ways with her beloved friend after vets called her to say that he was deteriorating. 

"When I approached Blanco’s stall, he was in an obvious state of shut-down and distress – a situation I know well from recent experience with my own life-threatening illness," she wrote. "So, after stepping into his stall, I laid my head on his back and placed my hand over his heart for a few moments of meditative connection. Then, while kneeling down by his side, I asked Blanco if it was his ‘time’. Without a second of hesitation, he turned his head to me, looked me straight in the eye and at that moment, I knew he was ready."

Despite the horse hospital's policy of not allowing non-staff to be with an animal when it is euthanized, Royal found a way to be with her friend when he passed. 

"Instead of allowing him to be taken away to an isolated room to die with strangers, they agreed to euthanize him in his stall and allow me to be by his side – as long as I could persuade him to lay down on his own," she shared. "Although it took several tries and lots of encouragement due to his severely weakened state, Blanco gave me the gift by laying down for me one last time in response to my gentle request. Although my heart was breaking, as my final gift to him, I stayed strong, balanced and focused, gently repeating, “Relax Blanco. Let go. Walk into the light. Relax and let go” as the Blanco I’ve known so well and loved so deeply slipped away."

Watch a tribute to Blanco, Lord of all the Horses, below. 

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