Blind horse travels 1,500 miles to Greenwood sanctuary
GREENWOOD – More than a year after being found at death’s door in Loreto, Mexico, a blind horse and an orphaned mule have been given a second chance by an animal sanctuary in Greenwood.
A young filly named Deli and her best friend, Macho the mule, arrived at HartSong Ranch Animal Sanctuary on Thursday, having traveled more than 1,600 miles in 14 days thanks to long-laid plans of their rescuers. Though they now stand to make a considerable recovery, Deli and Macho were headed for euthanasia only months ago.
Bracken discovered Deli by accident while visiting a local rancher who had requested medical attention for one of his other horses. She found the two-month-old foal tied to a fence post, blind, emaciated, infested with worms and handicapped by curling hoofs, and called McGorky, locally-known as the “dog man of Loreto” for his many animal rescues, for help. The owner had originally wanted to breed Deli, but after weeks of negotiations, he relented and sold her for about $250.
“Originally the idea was to euthanize her, because she was in such poor condition and she was blind,” McGorky said. “But then the owner said, ‘No, we don’t want to euthanize, we want to sell her,’ so we entered negotiations to buy her, and that went on for about six weeks, and I had to promise we would do a comprehensive examination of her eyes and see if we could do surgery.”
He placed Deli in a temporary facility with Macho, an orphaned mule he had rescued from the desert, and the two became fast friends. He decided against euthanasia about a month later as the animals apparently began to recover. Deli stood upright after her hooves were properly trimmed, and when McGorky employed retired horse trainer Maryanne Austin to look after her, she found the foal was exceptionally intelligent and eager to learn.
“(Deli) is so pretty and so loving, not an aggressive bone in her body, and she actually put on weight,” McGorky said.
The next thought was to put Deli and Macho in a facility in Baja, but McGorky didn’t like the one he visited, and after a nationwide search he found the closest viable option, and the one he was most comfortable with, was HartSong in Greenwood.
A non-profit animal rescue organization funded entirely by donations, HartSong Ranch is known for adopting animals with special needs. Owner Kathy Hart said it currently shelters more than 60 animals, including horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys and ducks, and Deli’s future there will be rehabilitative.
“The first thing we’re going to do is provide her a safe haven for life,” she said. “And we will continue on with Maryanne Austin’s training techniques. We don’t ride any of our horses here, but if we can get her to the point where we actually could ride her, we’d like to at least allow her to explore and have a little more stimulation in her life than just the pasture.”
Hart said once the deal was arranged, the hardest part was still before them – getting a horse across the border. But after several months and “piles and piles” of paperwork, she said the animals’ futures were more certain than they had ever been.
McGorky traveled with Deli and Macho through checkpoints and corrals in the desert until they were detained for eight days at a quarantine station in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, then rejoined them in San Diego and drove them last week to Greenwood. After months of negotiations and setbacks, he said the trip itself was surprisingly uneventful.
“The whole trip went like clockwork, on schedule, no problems – the animals traveled well, the equipment ran good – and then I had a flat tire on the trailer a mile from HartSong,” McGorky said. “Other than that, it was a perfect trip.”
Deli is now about a year and a half old, and though congenital cataracts have made her completely blind in her right eye, Hart is collecting funds for a $5,000 surgery that could restore vision to her left.
McGorky is confident Deli will see a better life.
“Mission accomplished,” he said. “When we decided not to euthanize (Deli), I promised her and that little mule … ‘It won’t happen overnight, because it’s Baja and it’s Mexico, but I’m going to get both of you out of here eventually.’ We did it.”