13 year old "Tayo" was saved by Silverwings Horse Rescue, along with seven other starving horses, after community members spotted more than a dozen emaciated animals living in deplorable conditions at a Reedley ranch near South Alta Avenue and East Kings Canyon Road.
"It was probably the worst case I've ever seen," said Silverwings Horse Rescue Founder Gina Caglia.
Caglia said 15 horses in all suffered from severe neglect and dehydration and believed the ranch had been without power for weeks, preventing them from getting water. Six of the horses went to the SPCA and two of them were in such bad shape they had to be put down.
"He (Tayo) was in a little better shape than some of the others because he's a bigger horse and because he's a different type. He's a quarter horse, the rest of them are thoroughbreds and it took us a good six to eight months to get him back to where he's healthy," she said.
That's because Tayo, had severe health problems.
"He came in with really bad feet," she said. "His hooves were in bad shape and they hadn't been done in close to a year. His teeth were also bad and he kind of stood there like this with his head down."
Now he's 300 pounds heavier, his coat is brighter and his perky personality shines through.
He's now serving the community by making special appearances and posing in pictures with politicians such as representative Jim Patterson at this year's Veterans Day Parade, as well as with law enforcement officers at the Civil War Revisited last month and Candy Cane Lane last year.
"He was kind of a diamond in the rough when he got here," said Caglia. "I try not to get real attached to them because it's hard to let them go, but he's just a gift in my eyes. He's just a beautiful gift."
And while he'll always require pads on his damaged feet and a little extra medical attention, he's now a permanent resident at Silverwings, proudly serving as an ambassador for the care of abused animals and bringing people together to rehabilitate and adopt them.
"He's just a gorgeous animal and everyday he just gets better and better," she added.
If you'd like to make a donation to Silverwings Horse Rescue, click here: http://bit.ly/1iwM2ir
Caglia said hay and senior feed go a long way in helping these horses, many of which are more than 20 years old, recover.