Equine actor that played Shadowfax has been euthanized


Earlier this week, Blanco, one of the horses that played the role of Shadowfax in the Lord of the Rings movies was euthanized at age 25 after several months battling illness.

Shadowfax is one of the most beloved equine characters in literature, noted for his bravery, intelligence, and unwillingness to be tamed. He never wore a saddle or bridle and only allowed the wizard Gandalf to ride him.


According to a statement released by his owner and trainer, Cynthia Royal, Blanco had been receiving treatment at an equine hospital. Tests had been inconclusive, but indicated serious problems in his intestinal tract and liver. After briefly showing signs of improvement and the promise of being able to leave the hospital, Blanco’s condition took a downward turn, and the decision was made to euthanize him.

“While the decision was made to help Blanco transition, due to safety concerns the hospital had a strict policy of not allowing non-staff to be present during euthanasia,” said Royal. “This was something I was simply unwilling to accept, as I knew my duty to to Blanco and our extraordinary relationship would not be complete without being able to be present to support him during this final leg of his earthly journey. 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. 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.”

According to Blanco’s biography, the Andalusian gelding stood 15.2 hands and was skilled in bridleless riding, liberty and high school dressage. In addition to his role as Shadowfax in The Two Towers and Return of the King, Blanco also appeared in the Hercules television series and recent movie.

Blanco was 12 years old during the filming of the Lord of the Rings movies in 2000. Sir Ian McKellen, the actor who played Gandalf, described him in a blog post as Shadowfax’s “galloping double.” The other primary equine actor in the role was a then-16-year-old Andalusian stallion named Domero. Domero died in 2003 due to melanoma.


A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise funds to pay for Blanco’s hospital bills. Find out more at www.gofundme.com/7yljv4.

Learn more about Blanco on his Facebook fan page.

Further Reading
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  1. Even though I have never seen any of the “The Lord of the Rings” shows/movies, I will always remember Shadowfax (miss him lots, too).

  2. Oh Cynthia, my heart aches for your loss. I loved your video tribute. You have wonderful memories to keep you safe until you meet again. I’m so glad you were able to be with him to the end of his journey, I too believe that your face and your voice should have been the last he saw and heard. God Bless you.

  3. I am so sorry to hear that Blanco is gone. I met her at the Equine Affaire in Pomona CA. Such a talented, sweet and beautiful animal.


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