On a journey that began May 31, a blind Pinto filly named Deli (Delicata for delicate in Spanish) and her best buddy, Macho, an orphaned mule, embarked on an arduous 16-day trip from Loreto, Mexico to HartSong Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Greenwood.
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Their journey began as Patrick McGorky, founder of the animal rescue organization Segunda Chansa and the man who saved Deli and Macho, took them on a three-day drive through the Baja desert.
After the drive, the equines have to spend time in a quarantine corral in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico.
The quarantine period is a concern. Although there is a caretaker, McGorky has no access to them for this duration.
Once the equines are cleared by the veterinarian for travel, McGorky will transport Deli and Macho to their ultimate destination in Greenwood.
Their journeys actually began long before this one.
Deli’s heart-wrenching circumstance was discovered by Dr. Liz Bracken, a retired U.S. vet living in Loreto, Mexico, on a visit to a local rancher who had requested medical attention for a sick gelding on his property.
While there, Dr. Bracken noticed an emaciated mare with a two-month old blind foal. The foal was starving, had a belly full of worms, curled hoofs and was short tied to a fence post. Her mother was unable to provide any milk due to her emaciated state.
Dr. Bracken, alarmed and concerned with the condition of the starving foal, called McGorky, a retired attorney from San Diego now living in Loreto, to see if he could offer assistance.
McGorky, a man with a compassionate heart, is known to the locals as the “Dog Man of Loreto” — having rescued, rehabilitated and found homes for more than 200 of the local dogs he discovered starving, injured or maimed, wandering alone on the streets.
McGorky’s heart instantly went out to this little filly’s plight and he was determined to remove her from a potential life of suffering.
He approached the rancher and offered him 2,000 pesos to purchase Deli but this was refused — the rancher’s intent was to breed the filly within the year because he found her to be pretty.
McGorky, aware that breeding a filly that young is a death sentence for both mother and foal, and that the blindness could be a genetic condition and would be passed on to her offspring, attempted to convince the rancher of this fact over four long, agonizing months of negotiations.
Reluctantly, the farmer finally agreed to sell her and a purchase price of 2,500 pesos (about $250) was reached.
Deli was now six months old.
A few days prior to acquiring the filly, McGorky had seen a baby mule wandering alone and starving in the desert after his mother has been killed on a roadway near Loreto.
He found out who owned him and as per usual, embarked on a long negotiation process with the mule’s owner.
During this time, McGorky went into the desert daily to leave food and water for the little mule and named him Macho for bravely living out in the desert on his own.
Once the transaction was complete and stall panels were purchased, Macho was brought to McGorky’s rescue facility.
When Deli moved into the space next door, the two equines became instant best friends. When one or the other was removed from their stall for a training session, they neighed and brayed to each other the whole time.
It didn’t take long for McGorky and a retired horse trainer and Segunda Chansa volunteer named Maryanne Austin to realize that Deli was an incredibly trusting and intelligent horse.
After just a few training sessions and once Deli began to get over her fear of humans, Austin realized that the little blind filly was incredibly eager to learn and retained things quicker than most of the sighted horses she had worked with in her training career. She knew no bounds.
As Deli blossomed, they all realized that this special girl needed a forever home where she could flourish and perhaps get medical assistance for her eyes.
Deli was born with congenital cataracts. She has 100 percent vision loss in her right eye but could detect some shades of light out of her left eye.
Any possibility of a successful surgery to restore Deli’s vision in at least one eye would only be possible in the United States, so they began efforts to locate a willing sanctuary to care for her.
After months of searching, McGork’s quest led him to HartSong Ranch — a 30-acre animal sanctuary set up and knowledgeable in caring for horses with special needs.
HartSong Ranch is currently home to 60-plus farm animals including seven horses, all with special needs and five of whom are blind.
Once settled into her new home in Northern California, a specialist in equine ophthalmology will evaluate Deli’s eye condition and hopefully, the dream of restoring her sight will become a reality.
“It is our greatest hope that Delicata’s journey to living a sighted life will take place with the contributions of generous donors, determined to provide the necessary funds to afford the $5,000 eye surgery and ultimately, restore her vision,” said HartSong Ranch’s President Kathy Hart.
Follow along with Deli and Macho’s great adventure via facebook.com/hartsong.ranch.animal.sanctuary. Updates will be posted daily.
See the full story of Deli and Macho on the HartSong Website at hartsongranch.org/events/deli-macho/ .
HartSong Ranch Animal Sanctuary is a non-profit animal welfare organization, run entirely by volunteers and funded by the generosity of private donors.
For more information or to help with Delicata’s expenses contact Kathy Hart at 530-887-1263 or [email protected]