Blanco as Shadowfax in his first Lord of the Rings sceneNew Line Cinema

Blanco, the horse who portrayed Gandalf the White's noble steed Shadowfax in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, has died at the age 25.

Cynthia Royal, who owned the horse, made the decision to put Blanco down after a long struggle with illness. She also wrote a letter to fans on Lord of the Rings fan site, saying that he "suddenly and without warning fell critically ill".

Shadowfax Dies

She went on to explain that medical tests proved inconclusive. "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," added Royal.

Fans have since deluged her with with condolence messages, including many of his 7,500 fans on Facebook.

One fan, Valli Chisholm said: "I'm so very sorry for your loss. He is galloping over the rainbow bridge and you will meet again."

Cynthia Royal also created a video tribute to her beloved equine friend, which includes his Lord of the Rings debut in The Two Towers and three whole minutes of Blanco galloping along a beach with Cynthia riding him dressed in white.

Some tributes;

Shadowfax Dies

Cynthia Royal is also seeking money from fans to cover the medical costs of treating and then putting Blanco to sleep. She currently has $4,212 of her $18,500 target. She writes on the Go Fund Me page: "Due to the heartfelt donations of over 125 of Lord of the Rings Shadowfax star Blanco's loyal fans, we've received over 20% of our goal to help pay for the costs of his medical care.

"Please keep spreading the word and asking others to contribute. While it won't erase our heart-wrenching loss, it does help allow us to focus on healing from our grief."