To a wasted t’bred comes everything good

Jo Jo's Gypsy was rescued in late August by Jeanne Mirabito of Our Mims Retirement Haven in Kentucky. The emaciated mare was among 40 seized by authorities. Jo Jo and Mirabito's granddaughter Kaylee, 6, have become fast friends.

Jo Jo’s Gypsy was rescued in late August by Jeanne Mirabito of Our Mims Retirement Haven in Kentucky. The emaciated mare was among 40 seized by authorities. Jo Jo and Mirabito’s granddaughter Kaylee, 6, have become fast friends.

Fine veterinary care, good food, and an embarrassment of choice blankets, all bought and paid for by donors, have helped turn around the life of a Thoroughbred who was destined for the grave four months ago.

Jo Jo’s Gypsy was a “walking skeleton” in late August when Jeanne Mirabito of Our Mims Retirement Haven says she couldn’t sign the abandoned mare’s death warrant, and she took her in.

Needing another horse like a hole in the head, Mirabito couldn’t turn her back on the incredibly sweet animal who loved people, and whose doe brown eyes melted her heart.

And despite steep odds, the mare battled back against extreme malnutrition that ate away at her vital organs and shrank her body down to skin and bones.

It was touch and go for a while, but as of this week, Jo Jo is weighing in at 1,066 pounds and is stronger by the day, able to show off remarkably pretty gates as she trots and canters in her field.

Jo Jo’s Gypsy
Sire: Johannesburg
Dam: Camptown Gypsy
Foal date: April 25, 2005
“We still have a little further to go,” Mirabito says. “Her butt needs to fill in, and she needs to build some muscle on her topline. Someone who saw her when we first took her in said it appeared that 87 percent of her muscles had atrophied. So it’s marvelous what’s going on now.”

Jo Jo has soaked up the love and the nutrients as well as the extensive veterinary care, all paid for by donors who pitched in to save the mare.

“The charity One Horse at a Time, Inc., which is a nonprofit that funds rescues, raised a bunch of money and they’ve paid all her vet bills so far. And they’ve been tremendous,” Mirabito says. And clothes! The mare has more clothes than any of the horses in Mirabito’s charity for older broodmares, and her privately owned horses, of which Jo Jo is one.

Jo Jo is putting on weight as she enjoys donated feed and Kentucky bluegrass.

Jo Jo is putting on weight as she enjoys donated feed and Kentucky bluegrass.

“She’s going to need a walk-in closet for her clothes!” she says. “She has a fleece and a flannel sheet for inside, a medium-weight turnout blanket, and a turquois blanket that my mother bought her. I haven’t bought this horse one blanket, they’ve all been sent to her.”

As she has recovered, Jo Jo has formed a special bond with Mirabito’s granddaughter Kaylee, 6. Although it’s too soon to tell if Jo Jo would be suitable for a youngster to ride, or even appropriate to be part of Mirabito’s own herd of horses, which is separate from the retired broodmares, the signs are promising.

“The horse looks for the granddaughter all the time. She looks past me and looks for Kaylee. She’s a great horse,” she says, noting that it is inconceivable to her that Jo Jo was among 40 abandoned horses seized by authorities in August. (Please read the earlier article in Off Track Thoroughbreds).

“I still don’t know how a horse with her personality could have ended up like she ended up. It’s mind boggling. She is so sweet and she tries so hard to please,” Mirabito says. And now all that she lacked is coming to her in abundance, and Mirabito remains guardedly optimistic that the sweet mare will survive her emergency and live a grand life.

19 responses to “To a wasted t’bred comes everything good”

  1. Lana Marie

    Wonderful to hear & she is looking so good…wishing continued good health!
    How are the other ones doing that were also seized?

  2. Tara R.

    After taking my first trip to Kentucky last month and visiting places like Old Friends, I have taken an interest in the OTTB cause. This is a great blog site and I hope it continues!

  3. jeanne

    It truly warms my heart that so many people stepped in to help Jo Jo.
    The feed, the vet costs and the blankets! The prayers and constant support, and the LOVE.
    Jo Jo survived because of all those things. She gathered her strength, bolstered her will and came through it because she had so many people holding her up.

    Thank you, Susan, for updating everyone. You are an Angel.

  4. Judith Ochs

    Looks like the apple did not fall far from the tree – and that Jeanne’s DNA has found a home in her granddaughter. Jeanne’s the best – and how terrific that she and her granddaughter will always share the experience of having JoJo do well..

  5. Louise Martin

    Thank you so much Susan! I love this site!!

    I just came back from visiting Our Mims and Jeanne….and met JoJo and all of the retirees. It just reinforces what an angel Jeanne is and how wonderful this haven is!!!

    Again, thanks for what you do Susan!! You are an important part in saving the lives of OTTB’s…..

  6. Leslie M. Bliman-Kuretzky

    Thank Heavens for Jeanne and everyone else who was involved in helping this special mare.

  7. Delrene Sims from Carlsbad, Ca

    I remember your sweet red-headed rambunctious grand daughter in 2012, skipping amongst all those ladies of a certain age. A sweet heart of a little girl. She is all smiles and so is JO JO.
    Wonderful happy story.
    Thank you for what you do.

  8. Gayle

    You have done an Awesome job and OHAAT is super for all the help they give to
    I just wonder how old she may be??

  9. Mary Adkins-Matthews

    Jo Jo is looking fantastic now… she is still not 100% but thank goodness for the good people and rescues that look out for horses like her. Thank you Jeanne… she is a beautiful girl.. truly!

  10. Shannon

    What a lovely story. I needed that today. Thank you.

    ps Beautiful face on that mare. Just stunning.

  11. Karen L

    This just makes me so happy to see her like this. Jeanne did such an excellent job. Thanks to all who helped her, she deserves a great life.

  12. Michelle Y.

    Thank goodness Jeanne wouldn’t sign Jo Jo’s death warrant. The mare looks awesome and so happy! Thanks to all who donated to her care.

  13. Marcia Moss

    Great job Jeanne and to all those who have donated. This goes to show what food, love and compassion can do.

  14. cheri vaughan


  15. Cheryl Bellucci

    Thanks for the update, Susan! It’s great for people to see how much Jeanne’s care can make a difference, not only in Jo Jo’s life, but in the lives of all the Ladies and Gents of Our Mims Retirement Haven! Horse care is a life-calling for Jeanne… and Jo Jo is a prime example of why Laura and I believe in Jeanne’s abilities 100%.

  16. Colmel

    What a beautiful head and gorgeous eye! Her whole head carriage with Kaylee is soft and accepting. It’s obvious there’s a great mutual love there. Thank Heaven for all the angels out there who are desperately trying to save these wonderful beings. Thank you, too, to Susan for sharing these stories of hope and inspiration. Our thoroughbreds deserve nothing less – from all of us.

  17. Carmel

    Thanks for the story here, brought tears to my eyes even though I’ve been following it on facebook from the time she was rescued. Unimaginable how anyone could do this to any horse, and poor Jo Jo still being so trusting………..she has the heart of a Thoroughbred for sure!

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