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Painted Plantation Goes Above and Beyond to Help Foundered Mare


In Newport Michigan, near the shores of Lake Erie, lies Painted Plantation, the home of Joe and Pam Mizzi. Joe is known for owning and breeding some of the most prestigious Quarter and Paint horses in the pleasure horse industry. More than a breeder, Joe is a man of integrity. He truly cares about the health and comfort of his horses.

We had the opportunity to talk with Joe, and learn what he has done for his mare, Sugar Cookie, when she foundered. Joe shared her journey and told us about the surgery that might give her the relief she so desperately needs.

She was exceptional from the beginning

Sugar Cookie, or “Ginger” as she is affectionately known in her barn, was foaled in 2015, at BSB Quarter Horses in Sturgis, Michigan. She was a filly anyone in the pleasure horse industry would be excited to own, especially Joe. Her sire, Certain Potential was a World and Reserve World Champion. His offspring earnings exceed 2.2 million dollars. Her dam, Hot Cookies Only by Invitation Only, not only had an impressive show record placing third at Congress, but the bloodlines to produce a champion.

When Ginger was just a few days old, Joe took a picture of her napping in her stall. The AQHA museum later selected her image as a fundraiser during the museum’s expansion. AQHA members from all over could easily recognize Ginger’s sweet face. Joe knew then she was special.

While Ginger was born practically perfect, she did have one small flaw. She was born with a clubfoot. Joe addressed this immediately. Together with his farrier, Joe made sure Ginger had proper shoeing. As a two-year-old, Ginger began to show some signs of being sore on that same foot. After consulting with his veterinarian, Joe decided to have her inferior check ligament operated on. The goal of the procedure was to increase flexion in her foot and relieve the stress that was being placed on her coffin bone. After surgery, Ginger had six months of rest and rehabilitation.

Training and tragedy

Mizzi decided to send Ginger to Texas for training. With her bloodlines and kind demeanor, he knew she was a solid prospect.

While in training, Ginger developed a couple of bad abscesses. The veterinarian treating Ginger recommended giving her time off and soaking her foot. As time went on, Ginger was not improving. X-rays were taken and it was later determined that Ginger had foundered.

Because of the severity of the abscess, the laminae in her foot had given way and allowed the coffin bone to rotate. Joe explained that there was no one to blame or an explanation of why this had happened. Everyone involved had done everything they could to care for her properly. It was just one of those tragic situations that many in the horse industry know all too well. Mizzi’s only choice was to take Ginger back home.

Becoming a broodmare

Joe’s farrier worked diligently to give Ginger comfort. He used therapeutic shoes with wedges and gel cushions. He used liniments on Ginger’s legs to try to relieve the tension on her ligaments. As time went on, there was an improvement. Mizzi knew she was never going to be a performance horse, but felt she would make an excellent broodmare.

Mizzi bred Ginger to Iresistable Sudden by Sudden Impulse. The first six months of the pregnancy, Ginger seemed to be comfortable. Joe closely monitored her feed and hay intake. His goal was to give Ginger and her foal the necessary nutrients they needed without allowing Ginger to become too big.

Even with Joe’s strict feeding plan, Ginger did not tolerate the weight gain as she grew. Joe reached out to his veterinarian and other professionals for suggestions to make Ginger more comfortable. Mizzi explained “If you don’t rely on the knowledge of others, you will never get anywhere with horses. No matter how much you know, how much you study, how much you read and do, there is always something to learn.”

Ginger’s surgery

Two weeks after giving birth (new foal pictured above), Joe felt another surgery was the best option to ease Ginger’s pain. He was determined to find comfort for his mare. Joe drove Ginger and her foal to Conley and Koontz Equine Veterinary Hospital in Indiana. Dr. Rothenbuhler operated on Ginger’s deep digital tendon. Joe explained that the deep digital tendon is connected to the coffin bone.

When Ginger foundered, the coffin bone rotated towards her heel. Joe knew the rotation was too much for Ginger ever to be comfortable. Operating on the deep digital tendon created a release of pressure and allowed the coffin bone to rotate forward toward her toe.

The x-rays that were taken after the surgery showed the angle of Ginger’s coffin bone had already improved. Joe explained the operation was a two-step process and it was the most aggressive option to get her comfortable.

After surgery, Ginger was immediately shod with special shoes. The goal is to have the coffin bone back to a normal position in four to six shoeings and, while it is still too early to know, Joe is hopeful this operation will significantly improve Ginger’s quality of life.

Joe will tell anyone that breeding and raising horses is not for the faint of heart and that making business decisions about the horses we care about carries a lot of weight. Fortunately for Ginger, she carries superior bloodlines and remains valuable even without being ridden or shown.

Mizzi shared “Some people like mares and some do not. I love mares because, at the soul, they care about their herd mates. They are also capable of incredible tenderness. I see it with the way they care for their babies, and I see it when they care for each other. Not a day goes by when their tenderness does not touch me.” (pictured right is Ginger as a baby)

Just as Joe has been fortunate to see the kindness in his horses, Ginger is just as lucky to be owned by Joe.

GoHorseShow would like to extend our good wishes during Ginger’s recovery.

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