(or "The Lady, the Joker, and the Acrobat")
Antoinette looks innocent, but be careful! She's a pickpocket!
This filly enjoys human company so much that she’ll
steal your gloves right out of your coat pocket and toss
them in the corner of her stall so you have to visit a
little longer. Its hard to believe that when first rescued,
Antoinette was afraid of people.
arrived at ERL in September 1998 with her mother, Darcy,
and her brother, Jolly. All were showing the effects of
serious, and probably long-term, neglect. The trio had
come from a “breeder” who couldn’t meet
the financial responsibilities or physical demands of
owning several horses, yet kept breeding more. Darcy,
a solid brown Thoroughbred mare, had been bred several
times to a Paint stallion in the hopes of producing paint
offspring. But breeding for “fashionable”
colors often doesn’t work. Because so many factors
enter into determining color and markings, even geneticists
have difficulty in predicting what color a foal will be.
If the end result is a foal of the “wrong”
color, some owners may view it as less “valuable”
and treat it accordingly.
Darcy, new to the ERL in the photo on the
left. Right photo, Darcy learns a trade.
Darcy stepped off the trailer with Antoinette, she was
grossly underweight and obviously depressed. She surveyed
her new environment with heartbreakingly lifeless eyes.
At a time when she should have been displaying strong
protective instincts toward the filly at her side, she
seemed ready to submit to whatever happened next. Malnutrition
had taken a toll on her spirit as well as her body. A
mare’s greatest nutritional needs occur during the
last trimester of pregnancy and during lactation. Imagine
trying to nurse a baby when you don’t have enough
to eat yourself.
was also showing the effects of malnutrition. The pair
had been given only one small meal every other day. On
this meager ration, Darcy’s body had been sacrificing
its own reserves to produce what milk it could for Antoinette.
It wasn’t enough. At 16 months, Antoinette was only
the size of a normal four-month-old. To make matters worse,
she had never been handled, making it difficult to examine
her and determine her true state of health. Aside from
restoring her physical well-being, Antoinette presented
the additional challenge of teaching her to trust, and
hopefully like, people.
Antionette upon arrival (left photo) at
18 months of age;
(right photo) Antionette at 2 years.
older brother, Jolly, was also underweight. At three years
old, Jolly looked more like a yearling. Since he was an
intact colt, he had been locked up in a stall for a long
period of time. Aside from the emaciation due to lack
of adequate food, his muscles had wasted away from lack
of exercise. Upon arrival at ERL, Jolly immediately showed
a very curious and sociable nature. The isolation in his
former home must have been torture for him.
their lack of prior care, Darcy and her family soon displayed
a trait often seen at ERL: the horse’s inspiring
resilience. Immediately started on regular feedings of
a balanced ration, Darcy and Jolly rapidly put on weight
and within a few weeks, Antoinette began showing the gangly
growth spurts of a healthy young filly. Darcy carried
her head a little higher each day with an elegant spirit
that earned her the nickname, “Darcy Noble.”
Jolly, on the other hand has been christened “The
Jolly Joker.” Soon after arriving, Jolly demonstrated
that he is a fast learner. We imagine that he coped with
his “solitary confinement" by inventing his
own games. He has even, on occasion, taken a brush from
a grooming kit and used it on his own legs! (Making up
for lost time?)
Antoinette? The panic is gone from her eyes and she seems
to be as willing a student as her brother. And every few
days, as if appreciating the novel feeling of good health,
she has been seen performing her own interpretation of
the Airs Above the Ground usually demonstrated by the
famous Lippizan Stallions! Perhaps in the dictionary,
next to the definition of resilient, there should be a
picture of a horse.
Antionette with new friend, Noel.
Darcy and Jolly have been adopted.
to Horse Stories.