Since January 2010, I've photographed well over 3,000 horses in need at rescues, private farms, and the auction. All the horses, donkeys, and mules are unique, but some of them have that extra-special "something", like Mimi.
Camelot Auction, October 12, 2010. The little sorrel mare did not have any other buyers on auction night, and she sold to the feedlot. The description from the Camelot Horse Weekly auction night volunteers on listed her as follows:
"Hip #66: Sorrel Mare 14.3h. 4 yrs, rode thru calm, one blue eye the one she kept closing, when I blocked the light, she opened it, she is very sweet and thin. $260.00"
The following day, I photographed all of the available horses at the auction, including Hip #66. Her eye was still runny, crusty, and irritated. While I was working on photos, Bill Fox and Bev Goff of Handy Acres in Jackson, NJ arrived at the auction to look at some horses. Bev told me she was looking at the little mare with the bad eye. I pointed out her companion, Hip #69, a dapper-looking black gelding who with very similar markings, but Bev was drawn to the mare.
Bill and Bev named the mare Mimi and brought her home, where she spent the winter at Handy Acres dining on an all-you-can-eat hay buffet, under a cozy stable rug. Within a day or two, her eye cleared up. Her vision was perfect.
Although Mimi had very minimal training and was barely broke to saddle, she was one of those horses who took everything in stride, from Santa hats to the busy wintertime indoor arena.
Mimi matured and blossomed in Bev's care, and in the spring, her winter coat shed out, revealing a deep chestnut color. As she was schooled under saddle, she showed versatility and trainability. She boldly led nervous horses on trail rides. She carefully carried young riders, happily going both English and western. She stood like a statue one cold night when Bev was injured by another horse's kick and waited for an ambulance.
This summer, Bev and Mimi started a new chapter in their journey together, and began training for western pleasure classes. On Sunday, they did their first-ever show together. It was Mimi's second time off the farm property, but she handled the new surroundings with style.
As they waited for their classes at the show, Mimi looked like a seasoned show horse, and her calm demeanor settled her rider's nerves.
The judge rewarded Mimi's consistency and responsiveness to Bev's cues. They placed 2nd and 3rd in their classes, and tied for Reserve Champion. Bev saw Mimi's inner sparkle two years ago in the pen at the auction, and now we can all see her beauty. Once a $260 horse with a runny eye, Mimi is now a priceless barn favorite, loved by all.
I asked Bev for a few words about Mimi, and this is what she had to say:
"It's hard to know where to start with the story of It's All About Me, aka Mimi. It was said that she was blind in one eye, and we were looking for a lesson horse, so she wasn't what we were looking for. But when I looked at Mimi, something in my heart said that she is the one. For $260.00, we brought her home, and our journey began.
A day after she came home from the auction, her eye cleared up and her vision was perfect. She is one of the smartest mares I have ever had the chance to work with; she has gone from packing 8-year-olds around to saving me from a serious injury. She has gone from English to the western pleasure ring. There is nothing this mare cannot do, and she does it all with ease and beauty. Mimi is my world, and I am so grateful every day that she is a part of my life. Mimi and I wouldn't be together if it wasn't for Bill Fox (of Handy Acres). I love them both." -Bev Goff
Mimi is one of the many horses featured in my 2013 Horses and Hope calendar. With the help of Gina Keesling of HoofPrints, my 2012 debut calendar contained over 100 photos of auction horses. Thanks to the support of horse lovers all over, it raised nearly $40,000 for One Horse At A Time, helping hundreds of horses in need directly, and untold others indirectly through increased public awareness. Now that we have one calendar's worth of experience to draw upon, the 2013 version promises to be even more exciting, even more creative, and as always, inspirational and positive.