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  Volume No. 12 Issue No. 11 November 2015  

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Feature Stories
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  Horse rescue expands from Hawaii to Colorado
  By Lara Freeman

   Kentucky is the great-granddaughter of Northern Dancer, the first Canadian racehorse to win the Kentucky Derby – and she is the only horse that survived an accident while being transported to a track with fellow racehorses. Kentucky is also the first horse rescued by Betina Tacoronte, founder of Equine 808 Horse Rescue, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization originally started in Hawaii.
   In the accident, Tacoronte said Kentucky bit her tongue in half, and part of the trailer impaled her neck. Tacoronte said she can still feel the hole in Kentucky’s neck.
   After adopting Kentucky, Tacoronte started receiving calls from people on Oahu, asking her to rescue another horse, and another. She said she realized at the time there were no minimal care requirements for horses set forth by the state of Hawaii, nor were there any horse rescue operations or other forms of support for horse owners who could no longer take care of their animals. Realizing the need for a horse rescue, Tacoronte founded Equine 808 Horse Rescue in 2007.
   In July 2013, Equine 808 expanded to Amazing Grace Ranch in Ellicott, Colo. Equine 808's name came from the area code for Hawaii, but “I got to keep the name because 80808 is the ZIP code out here,” Tacoronte said. About 12 horses remain in Hawaii with Equine 808, and Tacoronte said the board of directors continues to run the operation in Hawaii.
   Originally from the Colorado Springs area, Tacoronte has been involved with horses most of her life. “I was raised in Widefield, and I did a lot of rodeo” she said. “In 1980, I was the Fountain Riding and Roping Club queen.” She moved to Hawaii in 1997, but she said a “life-changing event” brought her back, along with her horse rescue operation.
   Some of the horses, including Kentucky, came with her from Hawaii, as well as two donkeys, Marty and Rio, from the Waikoloa Donkey Rescue and Rehoming Project in Hawaii. The big island Hawaii had about 600 wild donkeys that have been rounded up and rehomed. “They were causing accidents on the highways like the deer do out here,” Tacoronte said. Marty and Rio are just two of the 20 donkeys Tacoronte has helped place in new homes.
   “When I first started the rescue, I had to fund it myself,” she said. “One way to do that was to contact schools and create programs for schools – educational field trips.” Additional funding came from pony rides and a petting zoo, and some of the rescued horses are used for the funding programs once they go through rehabilitation. Tacoronte said she receives funding for some horse cases through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and also the Humane Society of the United States. She also continues to organize fundraising projects.
   “When I came back to Colorado, I contacted the Humane Society to see if they needed help for fostering, but they convinced me that even with all the rescue operations, there still aren't enough,” Tacoronte said. Since coming to Colorado, Equine 808 has rescued four horses from Spokane, Wash.; four from Trinidad, Colo.; and four from Aurora, Colo.
   Currently, the Equine 808 facility has 20 equines, which is about the maximum it can support. Rescue horses can be adopted once they have recovered from any health issues they have, including fears they have developed from being abused. Tacoronte said they have program horses they keep for pony rides and other activities like therapy for wounded soldiers.
   Equine 808 will host an open house the weekend of April 12 and 13. The event will include a petting zoo, pony rides, food and craft vendors and face painting. “It's a way for us to introduce ourselves to the community,” Tacoronte said.
   In addition to pony rides and educational programs with schools and home schooling groups, Equine 808 also offers birthday parties and military support programs. There are volunteer opportunities for scouting groups or any other groups that want to volunteer time, work hard and have some fun, she said.
   Tacoronte said Equine 808 worked with the Wounded Warrior program of the Veterans Affairs Office in Hawaii, and she contacted the Southeast Armed Services YMCA in Colorado Springs, which offers a Wounded Warrior program as well.
   Members of the military will be able to interact with the horses by grooming them and leading them in walks. Tacoronte said the program helps the horses with rehabilitation and also helps the service men and women by getting “their minds off stuff.” She said the military support program is especially important in an area heavily populated by military families.
   More information about Equine 808 Horse Rescue can be found at and on Facebook at


(Click photo to enlarge)
Betina Tacoronte brought her first rescue horse, Kentucky, all the way to Colorado from Hawaii.

(Click photo to enlarge)
Two donkeys also made the journey from Hawaii. The donkeys are from the Waikoloa Donkey Rescue and Rehoming Project.

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