In Loving Memory of Mitey Nice

Foaled 1974 (approx.)
Died June 23, 2008
15 hand Dun Quarterhorse mare

This lady is very strong and very much ‘in charge’ of the other horses.  She came to me from Beth Brewster of French Valley – Mitey was prone to kidney stones and showed an unwillingness to move forward which was too hard for Beth’s kids to handle.  We have found her to be invaluable as Trilby was – patient, kind, bombproof.  She takes great care of her little riders.  She needs a special diet which includes less alfalfa, and the vinegar contributes to her kidneystone-free condition.  In recent years, Mitey had gained a lot of weight, and in November of 2004, both she and Sara (my big eaters) ate some hay that had gone bad.  So, I have two foundered horses to deal with.  Mitey has lost a lot of her excess weight, and then kept losing due to the discomfort in her feet.  We tried a course of shoes, and pain medication.  She then had two bouts with abscesses from which she is only just coming back.  But due to her aching feet, it is very very hard to trim her feet and since she moves as little as she can, her toes are getting long.  On hot days, I walk a bucket of water out to her to be sure she doesn’t get dehydrated before starting a slow trek to the water barrels.  She insists on coming out of her stall every day and walking in her slow way to the paddock to spend the day with the herd; and waits for everyone to be put away and out of her way before walking carefully back for dinner in her stall.  Inch protected Mitey while she was most lame and now they are best girl friends. 

Goodbye to Mitey Nice 

On Monday, June 23, 2008, Mitey Nice passed away. Mitey was in her very late 30s or early 40s. A quarter-horse pony, Mitey was 13.3 hh, dun in coloring, kind in heart. I was so lucky to get Mitey about 15 years ago, even before The Golden Carrot was a reality. But Mitey even then was exactly the kind of horse I hoped to help. As she so richly deserved, Mitey Nice has had a loyal full sponsor, Kathryn McDonald, for many years.  She was small, and calm, and well trained. So of course, she’d been used to death. She was in her late 20s (from report of the former owner, as well as examination of her teeth) and creaky with arthritis. The former owner complained that her child couldn’t get Mitey to “go”, and in the nastiest voice said, “Her name is Mitey Nice, but I haven’t found her to be so”. Now, this is an elderly pony, full of arthritis, being kept in a tiny dark stall. Get her out on a weekend and put your kid on her. They are SOOOO lucky it was Mitey Nice… who slowly tried to get her stiffened limbs to move, and not the average horse who would fly around the yard, bucking at the freedom! This was the essence of Mitey – not well cared for or regarded, but conscientious in performing her job, as she saw it, with care for her riders. Mitey came to me and began to show improvement immediately, just because she could wander around all day long, and even in the evenings she was in a 16×24 stall. Like most of my older horses, she enjoyed the time to eat in her stall, and as she began to feel better, she became a force to be reckoned with in the herd. She was a clever older mare, who was not aggressive, but wouldn’t tolerate being pushed around. She was friendly with different horses during her early years here, but never so much that I couldn’t take her away from the herd with ease. And that was great because she loved carrying little kids around the round pen – and was the first horse a beginner could ride with reins. I never made her work for long, and she carried only the tiniest riders I could find, but until 2004, Mitey was very happy providing thrills for many people, and hanging with her buddies in the herd the rest of the time. Even after I decided not to put riders on her, Mitey was the perfect grooming horse – she stood as though rooted while little kids “brushed” her legs and belly, and one person after another, of all ages, learned to groom and how to feed carrots. She never threatened to kick, and tolerated all kinds of slaps and thumps from inexperienced and frightened riders. I really felt she KNEW that they didn’t mean to hurt her, that they were learning. And I always made sure she got extra carrots, from her riders as well as from me, for her patience. More than one child in the past 8 years has had the thrill of looking into Mitey Nice’s eyes, and seeing her sweet look back.   My beautiful Mitey (right), a few months before her death.  In many ways, Mitey was the perfect horse.  Except for her small size, she would have been a wonderful addition to any home that could appreciate her, and she would have been willing to teach new owners.  It has become clear to me thru the years that people throw away the most wonderful horses – like Mitey.  They SAY they want the perfect horse, but I can’t fathom what more Mitey could have done to make her former owners happy.  I know I was privileged to know her, my Mitey Mite!  A big horse, in a small package

In November of 2004, Mitey Nice foundered. I believe I am at fault for this, as that year, I lost a great deal of alfalfa to mold. I gave away close to 50 bales of hay to a local cow guy, rather than feed questionable hay to the horses, but obviously, I messed up, because both Mitey and Sara foundered that month. I must have missed something, and these two equine vacuum cleaners ate it – with disastrous results. Neither of these horses was terribly active anyway, and although I began anti-inflammatories right away, Mitey didn’t really ever recover. Her feet became a terrible problem for TGC’s farriers, who one after another resisted working on her at all. She often could not lift her feet for them, and began spending a lot of time lying down. When I lost my farrier in July of 2005, it took me 3 months before I could get anyone to work on her again, and she’d last been done 2 months earlier. So her feet were long, and hard as concrete. In December of 2007 I finally got one farrier who was willing to work with her, on the ground, and we began a tedious process of removing long toes and hard long heels. She never seemed to feel any better, or move any better, but her feet began to look a little more normal. But as month after month passed, she insisting on lying down so many hours a day that I would check her regularly, thinking she’d passed away.

Once she foundered, for some reason, Inch became attached to her. So I moved Mitey to a stall next to Inch, and a friendship/love was born. Although she was pretty useless as a protector, Inch worried about her, and fussed over her, and waited with her each day to walk out, and waited with her each day to walk back to her stall. Over the last three years of Mitey’s life, Inch was her constant companion. Inch wouldn’t come in for dinner until she was sure Mitey was coming; if I made her go into her stall first, she would stand at her gate calling for Mitey to hurry up. In her stall, she stood with her head right by Mitey’s. Mitey seemed to derive comfort from it, and on those rare days that Inch hung with Beau, she would follow the two of them in the morning hours, before wandering to her favorite napping spot for the afternoon. Despite the ridiculous difference in their size and ages, I believe that Inch loved Mitey the way a loved daughter loves her elderly mother. Despite her obvious pain, Mitey trucked out to the main paddock, to the farthest point she could get to from her stall, every day; spent the afternoon there, and then slowly struggled back every night. I kept expecting that one day she would want to hang in her stall – we set it up several times that she could come out only if she wanted, and she always did. I worried that she thought she was “supposed” to ….. this was a horse who always did what she was asked to do. A strong independent lady, still she believed it was her job to cooperate with people. Someone really put some good training on her, and her good heart and mind kept it fresh. Supporters of TGC will have noted my frequent mention of Mitey in my list of oldest, frailest horses, whose continuing and increasing pain was an ongoing concern for me. When it became clear that not only were the herbal supplements she was getting for joint pain not working, but neither was bute, I realized that I was no longer providing Mitey with a decent quality of life. The pain was never-ending, and her struggle each day was harder to watch. At her advanced age, there was no reason to think anything would improve …. and now even her appetite was off a couple of days every week. Mitey had lived many many years for her food ….. to see her leaving food was unbearable proof that her time was coming to an end.  

Mitey died with Inch by her side. It was quick. I don’t believe she felt a thing. The pain is reserved for Inch and I …. for a tiny horse, she left a big hole in our hearts. Mitey Nice, as it turned out, wasn’t just mighty nice – she was truly wonderful.

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