Puerto Rico has become a huge part of my life since marrying into this beautiful culture. Hurricane Maria shook our family hard and brought my mother-in-law home to Maine until things settled down on the Island. Puerto Rico is a rich and beautiful Island that fosters a passionate, fiery, romantic culture that spreads to their native animals as well. This strength and spirit is personified by the Islands horses, Paso Finos. The day I opened my phone and saw this soul marked "shipping today", I dropped everything I had (gave my a husband a bit of a panic attack) and bought her. We only had one photo of her from a Louisiana sales page, she was covered in a huge Western saddle that covered her whole body, hiding the horrors underneath. She went to quarantine in Arkansas the next day, where we got a full picture of what we were facing. She was emaciated and defeated; her spirit bursting to come out, but her body not able to hold it. Tainos are the native people of Puerto Rico, so Taina (ty-ee-nah) was the perfect name for our little Paso girl.

Due to a missed flight we ended up road-tripping our way to New Mexico, luckily we were able to make a pit-stop in Arkansas to visit our sweet girl while we waited impatiently for her to finish quarantine and build the strength to come home. We were shocked to see her condition in person. There was not a spare ounce of flesh on her, her skin drawn tight over her bones, and her coat matted and crusted to her body. Her hair peeled off leaving raw spots, her body just ached. We also learned she lost her baby. The others at the farm began questioning my insanity, why this one? Why pick this horse who had such little hope of surviving, let alone ever being able to recover? I couldn't explain why, but I knew her fire would keep her going. Even in her weakness, she tried to pin her ears and tell us she hates us. I was so proud.

When she arrived home I was scared, would she survive the trip? Would she fall down? We ordered her an extra large box stall so she could lie down the whole ride if she wanted. Would she know how to lead? Could I get her into the barn? What if she was aggressive or just too broken to repair?

Well she arrived, a bag of bones, teetering on her sore tip-toes, she lead me from the truck to her stall, she knew right where she was going and made herself right at home in the deep, fluffy shavings. Over the first couple weeks she was bombarded with vets, farriers, chiropractor, and love. She didn't want most of it. She avoided people, sat quietly in the back of her stall, but rapidly defended herself with violence if she felt the need. Except when she knew she had no choice, when the vets came, she just retreated inside herself and trembled with fear. She shook and cried, and begged for comfort, but humans were no comfort.  We learned alot about her painful past from these vet visits. She was officially diagnosed with Lyme disease which meant a month of antibiotics at least, her feet were overgrown and slipped under so very sore, and her heat cycle is extremely painful (despite nothing being wrong on ultrasound). These cycles get so painful, that when she hurts she actually bangs her sides against a door frame or fence, this seems to help ease the pain until it passes. The ligaments under her tail were cut (by a human) for a cosmetic alteration that causes her tail to pull up in a "J" shape, which is the fashion for Paso Fino shows (all the shows have their chosen fashion statements, this is their's). Worst of all, her neck was wrapped in scars, we thought she had a tumor of sarcoid on her neck, but x-rays showed her trachea was actually crushed. based on the scar patterns and the internal damage it's obvious she was roped regularly, likely in rodeo events. Her terror of anything near her legs leads us to believe she was either trained to "dance" in pillars (google it if you are interested, but only if your heart is strong enough), or she was tripped in rodeos. We can only tell so much, but her body tells us that humans have completely betrayed her.

We tried treating her Lyme disease, but the treatment was more than her body could bare. She began to get more and more sick, more and more weak, she wouldn't go outside, she could barely eat. We stopped treatment immediately, but the damage kept getting worse. Finally she began to come around, the weight started to come on and her personality started to open up. She began happily taking food from our hands and becoming a part of our farm family. While she was happy when we sat outside her stall and fed her treats for hours, she would become extremely violent with any small, blonde woman, she would lunge and try to bite them no matter how far away they were! It was shocking. She also took a rapid dislike to our noisy little sheep, she tried to bite them whenever they came close enough. But I was so happy to see her start to defend herself, have opinions, and behave confidently instead of fearfully.

Over time she's really begun to open up to the people in the barn. She has lingering issues we'll begin working on slowly, but surely, but we are finally on the upswing of life. She is starting to venture outside for some grass and play time with the other horses over the fence. Due to loosing her foal, we adopted a baby mustang from a friend's Mustang Camp in New Mexico. The baby doesn't seem to think he's a baby and tries to be a little stud muffin flirting with her, but she just loves him to bits anyway. This has helped her a great deal.

I am eager to continue to share updates, but it's only been a few months!