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My Turbulent Miss, Taba, Iza Valentine, Exactly So and Jamra
The Making of the Haven
By Jeanne Mirabito
When Our Mims arrived on my farm on February 2, 2000, I knew I wanted to create a retirement home for older horses. I knew the need was there and, sadly enough, I’d have the only such facility for miles. I set about turning my old run down tobacco farm into one fit for horses.
The tobacco barn was perfect. Each of the 14’x14’ section would make a nice roomy stall for an old horse. Plenty of room for arthritic bones to turn around in and best of all, clearly marked perimeters for me. I had never picked up a power tool in my life, let alone built anything.
I hired a carpenter to build the first stall and watched him like a hawk. Then tried to imitate what I saw while building stalls two, three and four. A kindly neighbor built the fifth stall. I reluctantly hired another friend to build thee rest of the stalls. Looking at our barn, you may have a good, hearty chuckle. The walls are a bit crooked. The stall doors do not match and sometimes things are held together with baling string. But the horses are happy, so who cares?
When Our Mims passed on December 9, 2003, I was devastated. My heart shattered into a million pieces and I just didn’t think I could go on. I spent weeks in tears with such a deep pain in my chest I was actually seeing a cardiologist. One cold January night I made a decision. It was all too much. I just couldn’t take the pain and I decided not to go through with my plans to have a retirement facility. I had nine full stalls. I had several foster horses for adoption groups, a few riding horses and a couple of elders. I would keep these but once they were gone, that would be it. I would not bring another horse onto the farm.
Through tears, I told my husband of my decision and for the first time in weeks, I fell into a deep sleep.
That night I had a powerful dream. I dreamt I heard Our Mims calling me. I ran out the back door, through the gate to her favorite grazing spot and there she was. Oh, how I cried, touching her all over, telling her how much I had missed her. Through the magic of dreams I realized she was talking to me, really talking. She very sternly told me to quit crying, she hadn’t gone anywhere. Mims explained that silly humans just refused to see that the veil between our world and the next was very thin. My friend said she was always by my side; she hadn’t left me and never would.
Our Mims made it clear that she needed me to be quiet and listen. I had a job to do and if I couldn’t do it for me, I needed to do it for her. Mims told me she was disappointed with my recent decision; there were many mares that needed my help, those who I would touch directly and those who would benefit because of her and I. Mims said, "Right now, there is someone very close to me that needs you. Go get her and put her in my stall." With that I awoke.
I could SMELL her everywhere! On my hands, in the air, all around me. I shook my husband trying to wake him. I couldn’t rouse him; he just mumbled something about me not showering before bed. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night, wondering what the dream meant.
The next morning I opened my email only to find a note from my friend, Barbara Livingston. Barbara wrote, "Sugar and Spice, younger sister to Our Mims, out of the same dam, Sweet Tooth, is in need of care. I think the owner may be willing to give her up. Would you be willing to take her?"
I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks…someone close to Mims needed my help. I think my response was, "who do I have to kill to get her?"
It took some time, emails flew here and there. A few missed connections and dropped messages later, and FINALLY we got the go ahead. On May 7, 2004 a very weak Sugar and Spice stepped off the trailer and into Our Mims stall. And yes, there was no exaggeration; Sugar was in desperate need of TLC. This beautiful mare would not be with us long; she was clearly a hospice case.
Oh, what a sweet Sugar she was. No morsel of food passed her lips until she thanked me first. She’d lay her head against my chest and chortle the sweetest sound I had ever heard. Every tender touch she received, she returned. It seemed like she wanted to make sure I knew how grateful she was.
And she did heal! Her carefully planned diet had her eyes a sparking and we were showing marvelous progress in covering her ribs and hip bones. Her skin lesions healed, her coat glowed. She even ripped all her sister’s pictures off the barn wall!
As quickly as she healed, she went downhill. I watched with dismay as our friend slowed down. Her eyes lost their shine. She stopped diving into her food. The vet checks revealed nothing out of the ordinary. She was simply what I have come to call "fading." Then on September 13, Sugar laid down for the last time. It was quite obvious she had enough of this world. There is something in a horse’s eyes when they are ready to go. They very clearly ask. Sugar asked, and like a good friend, I respected her wishes. Before the vet arrived, I sat on the ground cradling Sugar’s head in my lap and promised her I’d take her home to Calumet. Upon hearing "Calumet" her eyes lit up one more time. I looked her in the eyes and promised, ‘I’ll take you home to Calumet." Sugar and Spice raised her pretty head high enough to snuggle into my chest and chortled. Of course, my heart aches for Sugar but her presence in my life was a healing presence. She gave me the courage it will take to complete the task Our Mims gave me.
Several nights after we buried Sugar and Spice I again dreamt of Our Mims. She told me to go get the others. "There are five," she said, "Put exactly in my stall."
Ok, so I was irritated. I asked her what she was talking about. I somehow knew she was talking about Sugar’s pasture mates but what did "put exactly in my stall," mean? Irritated, or not, I learned a long time ago just to do as Mims said, so I made the necessary call and yes, there were five horses in Sugar’s old field. Yes, I could have them.
One by one, I walked the mares onto my trailer. First Iza Valentine and Jamra. The second trip I was walking a pretty chestnut onto the trailer and asked, "Who’s this?"
The farm manager replied, "That’s Exactly So."
I wasn’t a bit surprised when that mare walked off the trailer and directly to Our Mims old stall.
Jeanne and Our Mims
Why we do what we do at Our Mims Retirement Haven
By Jeanne Mirabito
Photography by John Bellucci
People often ask me why I take in old horses knowing full well they have little time left on this Earth. Those close to me worry that I constantly set myself up for heart break. I have searched for the proper response and can only answer, "How can I not?"
I wonder about people who have to ask. Can they not see the need? How do they look into those big, brown eyes and ignore the sweet butterfly knickers of an old mare? Some look at the slow movement and see ugly decay. I see more. I see careful placement of hooves. Some may want to brush only the coats of young horses where a few quick strokes brings a fast shine. I prefer to relish in hours of grooming and watching an old coat come to life again.
And yes, they come to me old and bent. Their knees hurt, they are often underweight and neglected. More times then not, we serve as a hospice and the best we can do is restore their dignity. But the mares we touch leave this Earth knowing they are loved. Each one is special with her own unique spin on life, her own personality. Each mare deeply influences how we view the world.
We are rich for just having known them.
I'm sure the ladies would love to have you come for a visit!
Just remember to take Stud Muffin's. That's the price of admission! They take turns working the admittance gate! Just kidding. ;)
We believe in treats!
The five mares in the picture with the Making of the Haven story are the five from Sugar's field. I love that picture, They look so suspicious, "What the heck do you think she wants this time?"
Sponsorships: http://shop.ourmims.org/store/comersus_listItems.asp?idCategory=73 Having continued sponsors that we can count on to contribute month after month gives us peace of mind. Cheryl says, "As hard as I work to make sure Jeanne has enough money to take care of the ladies, it never seems to be enough.." I realize that's a common complaint of rescues, and we try not to publicly grumble too much. Jeanne does a great job in doing a lot with a little, the ladies wouldn't live so comfortably if she didn't. Different levels of sponsorship are: "Carrot Contributor", "Peppermint Provider", "Keeper", "Caretaker", "Angel". eBay Auctions: We always have auctions on eBay. Our eBay ID is ourmims-org. Sometimes the auctions go toward the building fund; sometimes they go for the general fund. We have been fortunate to have the farms donate us some awesome halters from stallions such as Storm Cat, Monarchos, Wild Again, Point Given, Unbridled Song, Holy Bull... the list goes on! We are also very happy when we get halters from the "working ladies" from farms; we've gotten halters from Turko's Turn, Serena's Song, and shoes from Life's Magic.
PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org Payment for items purchased off eBay should be sent to:
Our Mims Retirement Haven
159 N Bickett Rd
Xenia OH 45385-7804
Donation payments should be sent to:
Our Mims Retirement Haven
2810 Millersburg Ruddles Mill Rd
Paris KY 40361-9367Our online shop is at: http://shop.ourmims.org It is open and operational, and donations and contributions to the building fund can be made through the shop as well.
|We'll look forward to it.|
Photography by Sue Rosenbach
(Born on Valentines Day 1976 - Bickers ~ Countess Market), career earnings, $65,900.
Iza Valentine raced 25 times with 5 wins, 1 second place and 1 third place. She had 12 foals. Iza was voted the 1985 California Broodmare of the Year. She is the dam of Fran's Valentine and the grand dam of With Anticipation.
Iza Valentine arrived at Our Mims Retirement Haven in November of 2004. I remember trying very hard to win her affection but Iza would have nothing to do with me. Instead, Iza took a liking to my husband, Pete. In fact, in the evenings when it was time for the mares to come in for dinner, I often had to rely on Pete to catch Iza…"Go catch your girlfriend," I’d grumble as I stomped through the house in search of carrots. It wasn’t until I discovered Iza’s favorite treat, STUD MUFFINS, that I won her heart. "HA! I’ve got you now," I cooed as I fed one Muffin after another to the dark horse.
After that, we had a strong bond. "Oh, my Iza," I’d tell people, "I know I’m not suppose to have favorites but look at her. She is such a beauty." It’s hard to put into words the depth of a bond that can form between horse and human. You have to see it or experience it for yourself. But once you have witnessed the friendship, you’ll never forget what you have seen.
On August 13, 2007, Iza Valentine suffered a massive stroke. The vet thought she wouldn’t survive. The odds just weren’t in her favor. Poor dear Iza had suffered a mild stroke and bowed a tendon the year before, she was 31 years old. Worst of all, she had been down in the hot sun, maybe for hours before Pam found her. I begged the vet to try something and being the kind soul that he is, Dr. Burns obliged. As he went back to his truck for medication I leaned in close to Iza and said, "Iza, get up, he thinks you’re going to die!"
With that, Iza struggled to her feet. Pam and I quickly cooled the old girl off with hose water while the Doc administered medication. Then we three humans helped a very unsteady horse to her stall. Dear old Iza’s right side was weak. She leaned up against the stall wall for support. Her right ear flopped, her right eye nearly blind.
I stayed with Iza while Pam dashed to the horse clinic for more medication. I phoned Cheryl , and asked her to post a notice on the horse forums asking for prayers and donations. The needed meds were expensive and Iza’s only hope.
The prayers went up, the money came in and Iza grew stronger by the day. Ten days after her stroke, I asked the vet about her chances for survival. He cleared his throat while looking at her and said, "Based on what I see now, from where she was to how far she has come? There’s a race I’d like to enter her in ten days from now." Doc went on to call her a miracle horse.
Today at 31 years old, knocking on the door to 32, Iza Valentine is strong and you’d never know she was ever sick. She gallops across the pasture, kicking and bucking like a ten year old. She is clearly the reigning matriarch of the herd.
|We have a couple of cool ebay auctions going on right now, Both to help the building fund. One is a bracelet anklet set made from tail hair of 31 year old Iza Valentine and the other is dream catcher made from Jamra's shoe.|