Abandoned KY OTTB shows at Horse Park

Kaylee, 8. and OTTB Jo Jo's Gypsy participated in their first show two years after the mare was found abandoned and near death in Kentucky. Photo by and courtesy of Clare Noble

Kaylee, 8. and OTTB Jo Jo’s Gypsy participated in their first show two years after the mare was found abandoned and near death in Kentucky. Photo by and courtesy of Clare Noble

Two years after first laying her hands on the skeletal frame of a mare with slim odds, a young girl who stood by the abandoned Thoroughbred when so many hadn’t, squared her shoulders this past weekend and marched into the Kentucky Horse Park leading the thrown-away Thoroughbred; winners before they even entered.

Jo Jo’s Gypsy, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred broodmare abandoned with 44 horses on the Bourbon County line in Kentucky, strode happily at the side of eight-year-old caretaker and friend, Kaylee. (Please see earlier story:http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2014/08/26/if-i-left-her-it-would-be-her-death-warrant/).

In an inspiring demonstration of the heart of the Thoroughbred, the pair performed at the walk and the trot in their first official horse show away from the property of Our Mims Retirement Haven, where Jo Jo now resides.

Jo Jo’s Gypsy
Sire: Johannesburg
Dam: Camptown Gypsy
Foal date: April 25, 2005
“The relationship my granddaughter has with that horse is so heartwarming,” says Jeanne Mirabito, founder of Our Mims. “Kaylee was six when she first met Jo Jo. She met her three days after the mare arrived at Our Mims, on Aug. 22, 2014. I explained at the time that we had a very sick horse in the barn and that all we could do was love her.

“So, Kaylee went into her stall, gasped a little bit, and then she touched Jo Jo’s right shoulder. She walked slowly and silently all around, touching her as high up as she could reach. When she came around to her front, she reached up to the mare’s face and Jo Jo woke up. At that moment, when that horse looked at my granddaughter, it was like everything changed. I felt there was a ton of determination in that horse after that.”

For many months, Kaylee kept up her devotion to the dangerously emaciated horse. After school and on weekends, she spent many hours gently brushing her, and taking her on short walks.

Jo Jo's Gypsy as she appeared in 2014 before she was rescued by Jeanne Mirabito.

Jo Jo’s Gypsy as she appeared in 2014 before she was rescued by Jeanne Mirabito.

The mare followed the child with such trust that Mirabito marveled how any animal that had suffered like Jo Jo had could trust another human again. “If I were that horse, and had been treated like that, I don’t think I could do it,” says Mirabito, who rescued Jo Jo after a herd of 44 ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds were confiscated from a Paris, Ky. property. “After all she has been through, she comes out of it just as kind and willing to work with humans, it’s as though she’d been treated with kid gloves.”

So proud of the mare and her admirable disposition, Mirabito entered her and her granddaughter in the small lead-line class to help prove the point about Thoroughbreds: “I wanted to show what big hearts the Thoroughbreds have,” she says. “I still hear from people who think Thoroughbreds are crazy, and they can’t believe I’m letting a child near one.”

Though she understands their skepticism, seeing is believing, says Mirabito, who notes that her granddaughter and Jo Jo will make an appearance at the Secretariat Festival Sept. 17 in Paris, Ky. “Watching these two makes me burst with pride,” she says.

17 responses to “Abandoned KY OTTB shows at Horse Park”

  1. Laura Salvatore

    This is proof that God still creates kind, beautiful people, and so many can learn from this precious child and her goodness. That Jo Jo can come through her hell on earth with so much sweetness and trust in Kaylee shows how much heart that mare has, and I hope this team has many years together.

  2. Tonya L.

    What a wonderful story!! Jo Jo shows us all that every TB deserves a chance to be a great friend. Thank you Our Mims for helping save these beautiful thoroughbreds and of those left or thrown away. I hope the person is found and punished severely!!

  3. Jon

    I was just at Our Mims. Jo Jo is a very sweet mare. Even after being treated very badly by humans, she retains her sweetness.

  4. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    This is such a heartwarming story. What a bond that has formed between this little girl and Jo Jo. And the picture of Kaylee leading Jo Jo is absolutely priceless. Bravo!

  5. Susan

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 It’s just amazing…and I never tire of this wonderful story. Jeanne is a remarkable human being…that is firsthand…spent a few hours with her last summer! I have no doubt that Kaylee is Jo Jo’s heart and vice versa! Can’t wait to see them all again at Our Mim’s.

  6. Jeanne Mirabito

    Thank you, Susan!

  7. Always Nell

    Jo Jo’s Gypsy and Kaylee are two very lucky gals. Thank you for this follow-up story to a miracle.

  8. Tom Paige

    Wonderful story. I’d like to know if someone was held accountable for the suffering this, and the other, horses endured.

    1. Jeanne Mirabito

      Formal complaints were filed. The owner fled the State. From what I understand, there is more than one Kentucky County looking for her.

  9. Kim Alexander

    Tears are funny things. They can happen from sadness, or, as in this case, absolute Heart-warming Joy. I LOVE this. WHAT a story.

  10. Deb Barry

    Another two hankie job. I am so happy to see these two and the progress they have made.

  11. Marcia Moss

    Love this story and everyone at Mims.

  12. Maureen McKenzie

    I loved this story as it touched home — when I was a teenager, my late father bought me a broken down racehorse (two bowed front tendons and heavily pinfired) that was terrified of people and had hideous stall ‘manners’. He went to the barn with me every day while we attempted to lure the horse, Sarge, from the corner of his stall to simply greet us at the door…this went on for months. I became so discouraged, I just broke down in tears and told my father there was no way I could ‘fix’ this pathetic horse. He said I could and I would. Well, a week later, Sarge came up to the stall door and then I was able to go in. Within months, I was riding and jumping him. The following year, I showed him on the Midwestern hunter/jumper circuit and won 15 blue ribbons and a first year green hunter championship — Sarge was sound of mind and body after all he had been through. TBs are amazing!

  13. lexi63

    horses , specially thoroughbreds are extremely intuitive & sensitive , they do amazingly well with children & disabled children also . PLEASE arrange to save a thoroughbred / horse today if you are able , you wont be sorry, many many thoroughbreds are waiting to cross the border to a horrifying death , but the alive part of the trip will be worse, with unthinkable amounts of neglect and abuse await these majestic animals along the road to a brutal slaughter :::: http://kentuckysportsradio.com/main/they-slaughter-horses-dont-they/

  14. Michele Turan

    This is a heart-warming story, which shows how even a child with a big heart can capture the love of a suffering animal, in this case a beautiful but broken horse, and make it whole again.

  15. Lynn Errickson

    Happy tears here after reading this. I am thrilled to know I will get a chance to meet them both at this years Secretariat Festival .Just a beautiful story.

  16. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

    Beautiful story…that little girl will lead a life of compassion and caring. Kudos to her family for recognizing how this rescue will not only change the life of the horse, but the life of this child forever.

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