KARSTEN MIRANDA t
MARGAO: Candolim’s scenic coastline may be a massive draw for tourists, but the village also houses a hidden gem which has of late been attracting visitors from across the State to meet its unique wards.
Young children from other parts of Goa are making a beeline to ‘Quinta Margarida’, to meet three horses and enjoy a day out at the home that belongs to the Pinto family.
“We're originally from Candolim. We have our home there. And we're fortunate to have enough space to keep large animals,” explains Ninoschka Pinto, a teacher by profession.
Ninoschka is the daughter of Goa’s top veterinarian Dr Gustavo Pinto and professor Josefa Pinto, and along with her three sisters, one of whom is also a veterinarian (Sasha), the family looks after these horses.
“Our horses used to live on a farm in the south of Goa. They were part of a herd of around 30 horses. The owner of the farm was a passionate horse woman and loved them fiercely. Unfortunately, she met with an accident and was paralyzed. Unable to look after her beloved horses anymore, she approached a friend of hers named Christina to help, who took in four horses at first. My father, a vet, was contacted and asked if we could house them,” explains Ninoschka.
So, in July 2021, the Pintos managed to adopt two of these horses, Electra (female) and Gazi (male).
“When we took them in, it was simply because they had nowhere else to go. They are now our pets, who are not being used for commercial purposes. People’s response has been overwhelming. Many are pleasantly surprised, others are thrilled to see and feed horses. They roam free on our land, are well fed and are already acquainted with our neighbours,” says Raisa, the youngest Pinto girl.
Fast forward to six months later, the Pinto family were in for a sweet surprise when they got a call from the caretaker that there was a filly in the stable! Electra had given birth to ‘Dazzle’.
The entire experience of raising a newborn was not only a huge learning process for them, but also an endearing one. They have many hilarious anecdotes to share on that front.
There have been some stressful times as well, especially regarding the health of the horses, but having two vets in the family helped them get the right medical attention.
The Pinto family have also had to learn how to groom horses, what to feed them, how to prevent disease, etc.
They have gained valuable
insights from equine expert
Dr Josika Navukkarasu who works at a horse rescue farm in Chennai.
“Dr Josika has been an indispensable member of our team since the day Electra and Gazi entered our lives. She has been on call 24/7, when they were sick,” says Ninoshka, while detailing all the advice they have received from her.
A farrier named Shohab Sheikh also visits the horses once in three months, to trim their hooves.
“Another new family friend is Veronika, a brilliant horse trainer from the Czech Republic, who now lives in Goa,” Ninoshka adds, recalling how Veronika showed them how to work with the horses at the start.
Veronika worked in ‘Holistic Horsemanship’ and helped them understand the horses’ behaviour and also taught the horses to understand the Pintos.
Veronika, Ninoshka and her other sister Svetlana had even organised an informative session on horse maintenance, which witnessed a good turnout.
The Pintos have also turned down multiple requests for horse rides, as for them, helping the rescued horses gain strength and stay healthy is of paramount importance.
But there’s more to a horse-human relationship than just rides; the joy on the faces of the numerous children who visit the horses is testament to that fact.
“Children have helped me brush them, feed them and even bathe them. Two of my favorite aspiring horsewomen are sisters from Panjim, 10-year-old Alana Dias and 6-year-old Anika who have been visiting Electra, Gazi and Dazzle since the beginning, with their grandmother Judy Barreto e D'Cunha. They thoroughly enjoy every visit and learn something new every time,” Ninoshka concludes.