On a desolate stretch of road slicing first through sugarcane fields and then everglades in the Homestead region of South Florida, it must have felt like burning hell last July to an ex-racehorse waiting for the next thing to go wrong in his young life.
Emaciated and scared, Prodigioso shifted his weight gingerly on four painful feet that oozed with thrush. His back pasterns were flayed open with deep burns, probably ripped by rope, and a painful looking burn was raw and ugly on his lower lip.
His right eye, freshly blinded, somehow, showed him shadows that must have scared him as he waited to find out if bad people were coming for him.
When the SPCA showed up with an emergency trailer, Prodigioso was afraid of everyone. He trembled as he exited the trailer and gingerly walked to a waiting stall at Thoroughbred nonprofit Florida TRAC.
“It took him a solid six months of just being a horse and gaining weight to regain his confidence,” recalls Celia Scarlett-Fawkes, vice president and intake director of the charity that serves ex-racehorses that run on Florida tracks.
New name: Pipe Dream
Sire: Southern Leader
Dam: Spirited Affair
Foal date: March 14, 2007“It took quite a lot of time to get him to walk out of his stall door. He was newly blinded, we don’t know how. He could have run into a tree branch, we don’t know,” she says.
For eight months, Scarlett-Fawkes and her volunteers nursed Prodigioso back to health. And as he filled out, and his wounds healed, his faultless conformation and pretty way of moving were revealed. By the time his before/after photos were posted on Facebook, Scarlett-Fawkes realized she had a “pretty little mover” who attracted plenty of interest.
But once people learned the petite beauty was blind in one eye, most takers fell by the wayside.
Except for Niagara, Canada horseman Marilyn Lee-Hannah and her equestrian daughter Robin Hannah.
“When I first saw his picture, we were overflowing with horses. We have lesson horses, show horses, boarders, horses of all breeds, and we do rescues when we can,” Lee-Hannah says. “But I told my daughter about Prodigioso because he reminded me of a little horse we used to have, who I really loved, and she said, ‘Mom, we’re full. We already have too many horses.’ So I told her that he’s blind in one eye, and she said, ‘Well then, we have to have him.’ ”
The logic made sense to the softhearted horsemen who worried for a half-blind horse who was a dead-ringer for a favorite they used to own. That’s when they contacted Scarlett-Fawkes and offered him a home.
Well familiar with the Canadian equestrians and the good work they do at Sherwood Farm, Scarlett-Fawkes was thrilled when Lee-Hannah called. “The right person comes along for the right horse, and they are the perfect family for him,” she says.
Since his arrival on May 10 at his cooler northern home, Prodigioso has gamely learned to jump, and has proved to be the smartest mind they’ve ever worked with, Lee-Hannah says.
“He learns incredibly quick. He really wants to do everything you want him to do,” she adds. “Because of the vision thing, seeing new things and places is harder for him, but he’s calm, calm, and for a horse who’s only been jumping for a month and a half, he’s amazing.”
He is learning so fast that mother and daughter have dubbed him the whiz kid, and the weekend of Aug. 10, the stunning little beauty debuted at the Niagara Cup Series for green horses and handled the new environment with aplomb.
Tucking his knees to his chin, he beautifully jumped the 2-foot-9 jumps, all the while, trying his heart out for his new friends.
“I feel really humbled that a horse who has been so mistreated can still trust humans,” Lee-Hannah says. “It’s shameful what we do to them, and they still love us.”
41 responses to “Left on Fla. roadside, he was blinded, burned”
I can’t imagine the pain he was going through. Emotionally and physicaly. Some of us humans don’t think animals have emotions, but they do.
“It’s shameful what we do to them, and they still love us.” 🙁
Have the persons responsible for this been identified?
Marlane, to the best of my knowledge, no they haven’t. I don’t know if anybody even knows who had Prodigioso last. Sorry.
What a wonderful story. I had to look this up as my father sent me a photograph he’d taken of this horse. He’d mentioned it to me as they don’t live far from the Farm. He knew my love of horses also,having a few lessons as a young teenager.
But the photo of him he took is lovely. And the I saw a brief comment about being abandoned. And that’s when I had to research what happened.
So glad that there are good people out there still.
It shows they have a heart.
“It’s shameful what we do to them, and they still love us.”
My heart melted reading this. I saw him go at your thoroughly thoroughbred horse show and fell in love. You guys are wonderful.
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Thank you Susan for sharing the story of Prodigioso…the little horse who has touched so many. Your eloquent writing style is a tribute to the many people who have given their time, effort, knowledge, expertise, finances and…love…to the physical and spiritual healing this beautiful boy and offering him a second chance at life, and a first chance to be truly appreciated.
And thank you to all those who have posted comments…each one read and treasured. Prodigioso aka Pipe Dream will always be assured of a safe haven…and we look forward to sharing his successes.
God Bless Those who open their hearts and give Love and Affection to those who are less fortunate. This is a wonderful story with a Very Happy Ending 🙂 Thank You for sharing.
Ditto on the teary eyed. Such a lovely story and so well written.. I can feel the love. These are the stories in life that depict team work and good triumphing.
Unbelievable story with a happy ending luckily. It takes a few food people to fix a horrendous situation for any animal. The racing has such an ugly side to it. No one who owns them should be to discard them this way. It is so amoral. So many horses Dow at the hands of those who gained profit from them. Thank you Sherwood Farms for the love, attention and compassion you showed this beautiful animal. You are the epitome of horse love and The horses are lucky to have you. Now if only we could prosecute those who put this beautiful horse in this condition. We need to did those responsible for these atrocities and throw the book at them.
Take one horse with a lot of heart & 2 loving, caring people….Sharing this great recipe!
What a wonderful story! This horse had luck on his side; I say there are no ‘Unwanted’ horses, there are just ‘unlucky’ horses.
Oh my goodness I have tears in my eye’s, what a wonderful story and a magnificent horse….. They have and always will have unconditional love that’s the beauty of it, all he went through, god how cruel we human’s can be, WE ARE the predators on this earth no question…. Take Care of him and have fun…. 🙂
I can’t type much… My eyes are filled with tears…. As I wait for call-backs to QT a few rescue horses I’m hoping to help, your love and generosity helps to restore my hope for humanity. God bless you!
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What a fantastic story. I’m teary eyed, and so thankful this amazing little horse has had a happy ending. The folks at Sherwood Farm deserve to be blessed his tucked knees and trying heart 🙂
How anyone can be so cruel, I don’t know!! I’d like to return the same to whoever did such a Horrible thing to this Beautiful Horse, or any Horse!! The same goes for Dogs, Cats and any other animal!!
God Bless Prodigioso, Marilyn, Robin and all involved in his Rescue and the good home found for him!!
This Horse is Brave and has a Big Heart!! <3
what a wonderful story!!! my daughter had a jumper who was blind in one eye, and he had a glorious career winning big speed classes at Calgary and around the world. He became her high jr. jumper and was a spectacular speed horse. She showed him at Devon and Harrisburg on the Zone 1 team, and his blindness never bothered him. May this lovely horse have a glorious career and much love ahead!
Wow…that is incredible! I am so happy to hear that. Though we have helped and had many horses with special challenges, this is the first of this nature.
He was adopted with no desires or expectations of competitive greatness…but he may just fool us all. So far, his talent, heart and intelligence has us all in awe…
What a beautiful story. This is typical of Marilyn and Robin. They have been rescuing animals for many years. Sherwood Farms is a peaceful beautiful paradise full of happy and loved horses, cats and dogs. I was so touched when I read their story. I’m very proud of both of them, however, not at all surprised and especially happy for all animals lucky enough to be in the loving care of Marilyn and Robin. You can be sure that any animals in the care of these two beautiful girls will live happily ever after!!! We need more people like Marilyn and Robin in the world.
As a fellow Niagara resident, I am proud of your success, and of your willingness to give this lovely horse a new start! Well done!
Oh thank you…let’s spread the word…a little help from many can do so much.
Wow! What a story! Someone should make this into a story book to teach about love, perseverence, overcoming obstacles and acieving goals.I know a wonderfully talented photographer who could take beautiful photos.
Yes, we know her well also…that photographer has a true gift in capturing the heart of any subject…
There is an underground illegal horse slaughter industry in Florida. Horses beware. Maybe he escaped. So glad to hear a happy ending.
It breaks my heart how animals can be so good and pure … and human beings can be so ignorant, uncaring, and inhumane.
Mine too. I know times are tough, and horses are expensive, but this poor animal really suffered. Celia says he could have been out there for a while, weeks. I don’t know anything about the sugar-cane fields and everglades, but, I picture all kinds of bad things happening far from sight of caring people. Thank God someone spotted him before it was too late.
THANK ALL OF YOU FOR RESCUING THIS BEAUTIFUL HORSE !! AND BRINGING IT BACK TO A HEALTHY STATE !! AND FOR LETTING HIM LOVE AGAIN !!! MY LOVE OF HORSES GOES BACK TO MY CHILDHOOD IN NORTH CAROLINA,IN THE 1930’S…. I CAN SMELL A HORSE AND I GO BACK TO MY GREAT UNCLE GEORGE AND AUNT LILLIAN’S FARM AND HIS “BESS”.. AND ALL THE WONDERFUL TIMES I HAD THERE !!! HOW AND WHY PEOPLE CAN TREAT ANIMALS LIKE THEY DO SOMETIME IS WAY BEYOND MY UNDERSTANDING….
A very special story about an incredible horse; and wonderful people, who picked up the “pieces” and restored, repaired and loved enough to give Prodigioso aka Pipe Dream, a new start, new home and bright future!
My equestrian daughter, who adopted a thoroughbred former racehorse, shared this story with me.
Way to go Prodigioso! God Bless Celia and all of the Florida TRAC volunteers that nursed him back to health, and to his amazing new family that had the sign from somewhere to know that he belonged with them!! YAYA!!!
What Al a great story. I have ridden since I was 3, and at 66 I miss having a horse. My last, a crazy thoroughbred is now gone. I keep hoping I will find the next right one, but will have to fences back up!!! I am primarily a quarter horse girl! All my best to Prodigioso and his wonderful new family!He is one handsome gentleman!
Bonnie, much success in finding a wonderful horse. I too am over 60 and rescued two seniors. They bring a lot of joy to my life and a real sense of purpose.
Kudoos to Celia for all her wonderful work!!!!
How could anyone ever be so heartless as to abandon this beautiful horse on a roadway? So thankful for his rescuers, TRAC Florida, and Marilyn and Robin for their caring and patience. Prodigioso is showing everyone now! He is magnificent and full of fortitude.
Great story…I love hearing about these horses and the people that save them. What about the original owners? Are they ever notified that their throw away horse has become an awesome equine partner? Do they even care?
I love what Marilyn and Robin are doing. I used to ride at Sherwood! Lovely barn with lovely people with incredible horses and you really feel like you are part of a great big family when you’re there! 🙂
What a little fighter and survivor Prodigioso is. So happy he was rescued and now has a wonderful home and is doing well. Bravo!
What a heart-warming true story. It shows that Prodigioso has determination and love for life and his new owners. Thank you for taking this beautiful horse to your very own heart. I wish all of you good health, happiness and joy at every turn of your lives.