A small bowel tear has almost done what villains Saruman, Sauron and the black riders could not -- kill Lord of the Rings hero Aragorn's trusty steed.
Brego, who played Aragorn's mount in the Peter Jackson-directed Lord of the Rings trilogy, lives at the Kapiti Coast property of Ray and Jane Lenaghan.
Bought by Aragorn actor Viggo Mortensen after the production, the 22-year-old dutch warmblood stallion had lived in peaceful semi-retirement since the end of filming.
But about two weeks ago Mr Lenaghan, himself a vet, knew Brego was in trouble with colic and they had to get him to Massey University's equine hospital.
"I told Jane when I examined him that we would have to either take him to Massey or dig a hole," Massey News reported.
Brego was in surgery under the hands of senior lecturer in equine surgery Frederik Pauwels within 40 minutes of arriving.
"It was very clear from the moment he arrived he was in a critical state," Mr Pauwels said.
"We anaesthetised him, made a mid-line incision into his belly and explored.
"We found a large amount of small intestine stuck in a tear in his gut -- part of his bowel was stuck."
Mr Pauwels said Brego had come through treatment well and would have suffered a "pretty nasty death" had it not been for the surgery.
Brego has now been released from hospital but will be kept stabled for about another month to allow the wound to heal.
Mr Lenaghan said Mortensen had emailed saying he was very grateful to everyone who saved the horse and he looked forward to seeing Brego again later this year after completing a project in Hungary.
Brego is one of several former Lord of the Rings horses on the Lenaghans' property and Mrs Lenaghan worked as a stunt-riding double in the films, including playing Elfen Princess Arwen.
Mrs Lenaghan now owns Arwen's main horse Florian, a silver stallion.
They also care for Gandalf's cart pony Clydee, and several black rider horses.