As a young filly, Our Mims was racehorse royalty.
At three, she was named the 1977 Eclipse Champion, and by age four, she’d won over $368,000 in her racing career.
By the time she was 22 her many foals carried the bloodlines of superstars such as Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid, and passed great genes along to notable stakes performers including 1997 Breeder’s Cup Sprint winner Elmhurst.
But when she could no longer get in foal, Mims was turned out to pasture among cows, and far from any winner’s circle or breeding shed, grew old trying to forage food to survive.
By the time childhood fan Jeanne Mirabito stumbled across the old mare, her coat was dull, her weight had dropped, and she was unrecognizable to the woman who as a youth had exclaimed that Mims was the “most beautiful horse in the world!”
“She wasn’t bright and shiny anymore. She was an angry horse who stood pawing at the ground and trying to kick my head,” Mirabito says of their first meeting in 1999.
Dam: Sweet Tooth
Foal date: March 8, 1974
Crouching from the flying hooves, Mirabito asked a farm coworker who the horse was, and upon hearing the answer said, “That’s the great Our Mims? She’s a champion!”
After that, Mirabito started bringing Mims a serving of grain everyday. At first the horse pinned her ears and remained aloof, but gradually her demeanor changed. Eventually she started meeting Mirabito at the field’s gate.
Then one day, Mirabito hitched a lead rope to Mims’ halter and led her out. She first brought the horse to a rescue, and when she had purchased a farm in Paris, Ky., Mims came home to live out her remaining years with Mirabito.
“I promised her that she would never want for anything again and that her name would never be forgotten.”
Now Mims’s name is both the title and inspiration for a federal nonprofit, Our Mims Retirement Haven, which Mirabito founded for retired broodmares on her farm.
Before Mims died of colic in 2003 at age 29, she once again lived the proud life of a prized mare. Her health was restored, and her coat grew shiny again. And from time to time, Mims stepped into the spotlight at various events promoting broodmare retirement.
Today, Mims is buried at the Calumet Farm in Lexington, Ky., where she was foaled on March 8, 1974. Her remains rest alongside other horses in her family, including sister Sugar and Spice, a broodmare who also lived out her last days at Our Mims Retirement Haven.
Thinking back on the trajectory of the retirement haven, which officially entered federal nonprofit status on Mims’ birthday, March 8, 2004, Mirabito credits both “sisters.” Mims was the inspiration. Sugar and Spice showed that there was always another horse to save.
“After Mims died, I didn’t think I could do it again. I told my husband it was too hard,” she says. “But when Sugar arrived, and I placed her in Mims’ old stall, she helped heal my heart.”
Sugar did not live long. She was a “Hospice case” when she came to the haven, and died just four months later, in September 2004 at age 28.
But in their short time together, Mirabito was deeply moved by the horse she says never ate her food until she first put her head on the chest of whoever was feeding her.
Mims and Sugar; their memory have become the inspiration that Mirabito finds to get up everyday and care for 14 rescued broodmares. Horses she dubs, “the ladies.”
About 60 percent of the horses who come to her, arrive anywhere from 200 to 400 pounds underweight. But with individual dietary and veterinary care needs met, ‘the ladies’ do flourish in idle retirement.
“My ladies are gorgeous,” she says. “I love racehorses, and doing this work is my way of fitting into the industry. I can care for old horses, and I’ve had some greats here. Their fans still remember them and come to visit.”
To Mirabito, the older mares are still stars. And they’ve earned a place in a warm stall.
“One of the hardest things for me to visualize is a mare like Our Mims being left alone in a back field.”
17 responses to “Safe haven for broodmares is Our Mims legacy”
Our Mims was magic. As incredible in her final years as she was on the racetrack. I hope her Calumet family knows she was loved beyond measure through her last four years of life. She ended her life as she started it and wanted for nothing. In return, she left an indelible hoofprint on many hearts. Mostly mine.
Thank you, Susan, for the constant support and helping me fulfill my promise to her…we won’t ever let her be forgotten again.
Our Mims is part of the great Calumet Farm story. She was the “big horse” in the barn when Alydar was a yearling. John Veitch was the young trainer who worked with Mims, and the Markeys treated her like royalty. Calumet Farm is an amazing part of thoroughbred history, through good and bad times. I am so happy that people love and assist these amazing animals. Thank you to Jeanne for what you do!
I LOVE this story! I had no idea that Our Mims ended up in such dire circumstances. Thank God for Jeanne and her huge heart. I would love to come visit the Ladies some day. Thank you, Susan, for telling this story.
Thanks for recognizing the fantastic work that Jeanne does at Our Mims Retirement Haven. Her mission to the “senior ladies” who are so deserving of the respect and good care that they receive there is truly inspiring…would that all horses were so fortunate! Jeanne has a marveous knack of conveying the personalities and quirks of each of her ladies…and they are all great characters who keep her on her toes!
The Ladies truly are magical – and the most magical of all is Jeanne. What a remarkable job she has done, restoring both health and dignity to these magnificent horses through the creation of this very special farm.
I would like to encourage everyone to visit – and support – Our Mims Retirement Haven. It is a place like no other – and once you’ve been there, it will reside in your heart forevermore.
Thank you so much for this wonderful article! I have visited the ladies and Jeanne does a wonderful and amazing job. She is truly one of my heroes.
Oh, I have forgotten to send a shout out to KC at Akindale from our lady, MS STALWART who happens to be the proud mama of your MOUNT INTREPID. Ms Stalwart asks you to please give her boy a sloppy wet kiss for her…
Thank you, Susan for telling our story! And, thanks to your readers for the lovely comments. The “ladies” are wonderful and they deserve to have their names in print again for all the world to see.
Our Mims was truely a magical horse. She held such a presence on the Earth. I swear, she could melt a human heart with just a nicker. And every “lady” who has followed has left indelible hoofprints on, not only my heart, but all who volunteer for and visit our ladies.
Older mares are simply the best and, dare I say it, the most challenging/mischievious equines I have ever dealt with. If our ladies aren’t trying to break into the feed room, ransack the hay room, dumping their water trough in order to play in the mud or chasing the cats cats, they are posing for photos. An old neighbor of mine used to tell me, ‘You have to be smarter than the horse…”
Sigh, I don’t stand a chance!
Email us and arrange a visit! The “ladies” LOVE company. email@example.com
I had read the “Our Mims” story – and saw an Our Mims race on Y tube. She was a Zenyatta! I had the great fun of meeting Jeanne and the Ladies before the last breeder’s Cup. In a place of the world (KY) where I had felt only greed and treating horses like commodities – there was this rainbow of joy called Our Mims Retirement Haven. The barn had fabulous colors. the ladies wore colors – and the place exuded happiness. My husband was with me and he was enchanted – not a word I had ever thought I would use to describe him meeting another person and a barn full of “elderly” mares”. Give yourself a real treat – visit and donate!
A great story about the wonderful Our Mims Retirement Haven and a true angel here on earth, Jeanne Mirabito. We LOVE the ladies and they deserve the best. If you get a chance, please call and arrange to visit them, and donate if you can.
Jeanne is a woman that is nothing but pure heart! “The Ladies” want for nothing, except of course, MORE CARROTS!!
I was lucky enough to have lunch with “The Ladies” last April and meet all of those grand ladies in person. Truly a moving experience!
The world is a better place for having Jeanne in it!!
I love the fact that Our Mims Retirement Haven exists 🙂 These special ladies deserve so much – there is something so magical and wise about an older broodmare! Thank you Jeanne!
Kelly, I know what you mean. It’s heartwarming to know there are people who will give to a horse who can’t work for them anymore.
I just don’t know what to say. I am so moved by this story. Susan, as you know, my mare is the inspiration and the driving force for my cause to help save the off track thoroughbreds. Jeanne Miribato and Mims you have just reinforced my commitment and have led me to the path I was looking for. These broodmares have given so, so much, they deserve to live their lives with the love and dignity that is shown them Our Mims Retirement Haven. I cannot say anything more, the tears just keep coming. Thank you Jeanne.
Thank you! I’m so moved by their story too. All I did was write it down. Jeannie told it so well.
I am so moved by this story! I have a zillion things to do and I sat here absolutely riveted. Thank you so much to Ms. Mirabito for having a special place for these special girls. At Akindale, we have a space for older broodmares, and they just have a warm, welcoming feeling when you enter their field – I’m sure it’s very much the same with Ms. Mirabito’s “ladies!”
Sue – Fantastic story!
Thank you!!! I was so moved by this story too. Just doing the interview I felt I could cry for this once-great mare. One special lady saw the beauty that was still there, and remembered her past victories, and that started a haven for aging mares. It’s so satisfying to know there are such decent people in the world who want to make things better for horses like Mims.