Rescued: October 22, 2008
Taffeta’s rescue began with a phone call – a very distressed German farrier had visited a property where many horses were being left to starve; he himself had seen three already dead. This was the first call for help Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre ever received. Only two days earlier, we had decided to take in Luceiro and start the rescue centre; word very quickly got out.
In this case, an English woman had apparently brought dozens of miniature ponies and Arabian horses to her property in Spain. But, after falling ill, the woman was no longer taking care of her animals. Horrifically, each one was starving.
When we visited the woman to find a way to save the equines, we found her very shaken son at the property – he’d apparently just arrived from England.
He took us around the back to all the animals; turning the corner we were confronted by a sea of miniature French Papillions and Pomeranians, 200 of them at least, plus various other large dogs. "Mother is a great animal lover," shouted her son, to be heard over the noise of all the dogs. Rod and Sue just looked at each other, lost for words, and quickly followed him past the din and out into a field.
The picture before us was heartbreaking – there stood 20 severely malnourished Arabian horses and foals, plus 17 mini horses. The son obviously felt very awkward about their awful condition; he must have buried the dead as we could see signs of earth disturbance.
We decided that the only way to help these horses was to be tactful. We offered to take some of the animals and the son instantly agreed, promising to speak with his mother. The miniature horses, he said, had already been sold and someone would collect them tomorrow.
We returned the next day and met the mother, who explained that she had brought these valuable horses over from England with her partner, who had since left, leaving her to take care of them on her own. It was clear she was incapable of understanding the gravity of the situation.
Out in the fields, we negotiated to take the worst four of the Arabian group, a mare in foal plus three youngsters. (Ginger, Spirit, Zak and Moses remain with us today, along with Linda May, a foal born to Ginger after her rescue.) The other horses, she insisted, would go back to England with her.
A volunteer of ours named Kay had come along, and began to investigate the property while we were negotiating. It was she who found a miniature horse hidden behind a building. Little Taffeta was all alone – and chances are she had been left there to die.
Kay called us over and there lay this little horse, all curled up and dying of dehydration. Her frail body was skeletal, her bones had broken though the skin across her hips and she was covered in flies. Her owner seemed quite oblivious, saying only: "You can have her if you like, but she is very ill. I can’t remember her name, I think it might be Taffeta. She comes from a very special bloodline."
We knew we needed to get Taffeta home immediately to save her. We managed to revive her with a little water, then we quite literally picked up Taffeta, who was so weak she couldn’t even stand up, and put her in our car. Once back at our rescue centre, Taffeta’s long and courageous recovery journey began.
Restoring Taffeta’s health to her former glory was an uphill battle. Her frail body was full of infection, so our veterinarian Dorothea immediately gave Taffeta a drip and started her on strong antibiotics.
For many weeks, Taffeta’s exposed hip bones had to be cleaned daily to avoid infections. Her hips and skin were only going to heal from the inside out. Sticking to this strict caring routine was difficult, but we knew it was the only way to save Taffeta’s life.
Then, as Taffy was growing healthier and beginning to enjoy life again, things took a turn for the worse. The then 8-year-old miniature horse contracted an infection in her gums, which spread to her sinuses and eyes. We rushed her to the Alicante Animal Hospital to save one of her eyes. Thankfully, the surgery was successful, but it took us about a year to get Taffeta completely healthy again.
Still, after all the treatments she had received, Taffeta was a bit hesitant to let people touch her – and, to be honest, who wouldn’t be reluctant after so much suffering?
But Taffeta turned things around. This gorgeous lady grew her hair back. Her eyes were suddenly full of spark and mischief. She loved being independent and exploring on her own. She became one of our pride and joys.
Back then, it was just us, Lucerio and Taffeta at home, so Taffeta wanted to be part of everything that went on around and inside the house. She became part of the furniture, always in the kitchen going through the fruit bowl or traipsing in and out of the living room so she could check herself out in our glass doors. She certainly is no ordinary mini horse. She has such an inquiring mind and a fascination with mirrors and her reflection.
A few months after her rescue, Taffeta was invited to a fundraiser. Sue was hesitant because Taffeta wasn’t that comfortable with lots of people around. We weren’t sure how she’d react, yet nervously agreed to take part.
But to our delight, Taffeta heard the fanfare of welcome music – the Black Beauty theme song – and transformed. She calmly looked at the bustling crowd of 300 people and immediately took charge of the situation. Like any good showbiz star, Taffeta pranced past her fans and let everyone pat her now-glossy coat.
Taffeta showed her true colours that day – she’s a diva who loves her independence and thrives on the stage. We later found out that Taffeta was born in the United Kingdom and very likely trained as a show pony, before she was brought to Spain in the early 2000s.
Now a plump beauty, Taffeta continues to love the shows and is a celebrity of sorts at our rescue centre. She makes every new horse and visitor feel welcome, showering them with attention – but also choosing who will be graced with her time on a daily basis.
She still loves attending fundraisers and has even walked the fashion runway several times. Taffeta enjoys wearing the occasional tiara or feather boa for special functions and be warned: if there is a mirror at an event, the gorgeous Taffy will find it.
“Taffeta does what Taffeta wants,” Sue says. And she’ll continue to do so, a miniature horse a la Maria Callas, who reminds us that we all deserve a second chance.
As a non-profit foundation staffed almost entirely by volunteers, we rely on your donations to continue our work to save ponies like Taffeta, and to cover their ongoing feeding and care costs. Find out how you can help here.
Story written by Gabriella Munoz.