Facebook saves Tebow, a starving, half-blind horse

MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- A half-blind, partially deaf and severely starved old pony trotted up to Carolyn Tardy's yard in Walnut, Miss., about a month ago, and acted as if he had been invited.

Tardy's son, who lives across the street, tried to shoo the pony away, but he kept coming back. After a week and a half, it began to look like the friendly but alarmingly malnourished, seemingly abandoned animal would sooner die in the yard than leave.

So Tardy and her daughter, neither of whom had any equine experience, went to the store for carrots, christened the pony Tebow and made him a Facebook page.

"I got on Facebook and said, 'please help me! I don't know what a pony needs and don't have a place to keep him,' " said Tardy. "I begged for somebody with a warm heart to help."

Within a couple weeks, "Tebow, the neglected pony" community fan page had more than 80 "likes."

And Tebow's followers didn't just send their well wishes online; the 20-year-old pony now has shelter, horse feed, veterinarian care and a new winter blanket.

"I'm sure there are many abandoned and starving horses out there, but I saw this one on Facebook that I could do something for," said 21-year-old Jillian Yarger, Tebow's new caretaker. "I talked to my mom and she said, 'Go, get him.' "

Yarger recently opened S&S Equestrian in Memphis, where she boards a few horses and gives riding lessons. Even though she knew bringing in a new animal without knowing its medical history was risky, she said she couldn't turn Tebow away.

"I called my old trainer and told her what I was doing and she said it was a stupid idea," said Yarger.

If Tebow had a contagious illness, he could have destroyed the small business she was getting off the ground.

But Yarger kept Tebow in a quarantined area, away from her other horses, and soon took him to the vet with money raised by his "Facebook fans."

His ribs and hipbones still show, but Tebow has gained about 100 pounds in the last month, and is otherwise healthy. The risk was worth the reward, said Yarger, who quickly bonded with the gentle, personable pony.

A look from his one good eye is enough to make the Grinch's heart grow. He can't hear or see well, so he nuzzles close to anyone who will give him a little pat or bite of hay.

The pony's future, while much brighter than it was a month ago, is still uncertain. Yarger expects it to take several more months to nurse him back to health. Maybe in a year, she said, he would be able to hold the weight of a small rider.

"He's so fragile," she said. "I don't even put him out with the other horses because I'm afraid one kick from the herd might be too much."

And Tardy, who continues to update fans on Tebow's status, said the ordeal has left her inspired by the kindness of strangers.

"I asked for a guardian angel for this pony," she said. "And he got one."

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