half sister to our stallion, Mr Magic Zip.
"Nicki" is a
filly with a nice disposition.
Almost a year passed before our own family, and our neighbor
girl, Tiffany, discovered Nicki’s amazing qualities.
Her gallant fight has touched our lives and also left a
lasting impression on each and every person ever coming in contact
with this exceptional mare.
problem started in April 1997.
Coming in from the yearlings’ pasture, her right eye seemed
weepy and not quite “right.”
By evening, the left was tearing; the right so inflamed that
tears spilled down her white, blazed face. Our local veterinarian
responded quickly to our emergency call, but his exam revealed
nothing “too out of the ordinary.” By the next morning, both
eyes were inflamed; the left edematous with a milky white opacity.
Her suffering from the pain was very evident, as she squeezed
both eyes shut. Immediately
referred to Cornell University’s Large Animal Hospital in Ithaca,
NY, she saw Veterinary Ophthalmology specialist, Dr. William Rebhun.
The young filly soon began a medical battle that has
chronicled what a real American Quarter Horse is, and the great
beings they are.
Dr. Rebhun and his veterinary
technician, Jean, were the first to discover what an
extraordinary horse Nicki was.
Raised in a pasture herd environment since birth, with the
freedom to roam at will, Nicki stood unbelievably quiet for
her initial exam. As anesthetic drops were placed in Nicki’s
eyes, instead of becoming excitable and resisting the
procedure, she stood stock still, seemingly “all-knowing”
and thankful for relief from the horrible pain.
Dr. Rebhun’s extremely thorough 25-minute exam culminated in
a diagnosis of bilateral uveitis, conjuctival erythema, and
bilateral corneal ulcerations of an unknown cause. Hospitalized for around-the-clock intensive eye drop therapy,
her prognosis on this first visit was listed as “fair.” She remained for nine days, surprising all with her supreme
attitude, terrific disposition, and willingness to put up
with multiple exams, procedures, treatments, and medicines….
And, so began the legend of this “unique mare.”
Over the next eleven months, Nicki’s
condition improved significantly, but her prognosis went one step
forward, only to go two steps back.
At home, not only did she undergo multiple eye drops every
two to three hours, but the uveitis and repeated flare-ups created
other problems…She developed calcific band keratopathy which
required “standing”, bilateral surgical keratectomies.
During that long eleven months, Nicki never lost her
excellent disposition or willingness to allow humans to care for
her. She endured much,
and everyone cheered at home, and at Cornell, when at long last, she
went into remission.
For 18 months, Nicki suffered
no further problems.
With the return of uveitis in the fall of 1999, Nicki’s next
crisis brought her under the care of Cornell’s new Large
Animal Ophthamologist, Dr. Nita L. Irby. Dr. Irby became Nicki’s most trusted friend and guided
her through the difficult courses of treatment to save her
sight. The worst left Nicki blind in the left eye, and only
35% vision in the right eye.
Her show career was out of reach…or so it seemed.
fall of 1999,
Nicki confirmed what she was made of.
With just a few months of basic training under saddle, Nicki
stepped into the show arena for the first time with
our 16-year-old neighbor, Tiffany Soukup.
In multiple classes of 15 to 20 horses, Nicki and Tiff
captured an open Halter and Performance High Point Grand
Championship in the Walk-Trot Division at the Cattaraugus
County 4-H Show in Little Valley, NY.
The following August, even though her vision was almost gone
due to constant flare-ups and corneal ulcers, they brought
home a Futurity Reserve Grand Championship in Four Year Old
Quarter Horse Halter at the NY-PENN Stallion Association
Show at Horseheads, New York.
At their third showing in September 2000, this inexperienced
pair won the Cattaraugus County 4-H Open Command Class
Division of Walk-Trot against 26 other entries.
The winter of 2000/2001 was
Nicki’s disease returned, unrelenting.
The many setbacks eventually progressed to glaucoma; the pain
horrendous…but Nicki never gave up or resisted the efforts
of her team of veterinarians, technicians, and students who
were determined to save her sight.
While Nicki’s blindness could prevent her from continuing a
star-studded show career with Congress and World titles, she
has proven to all who know her that she is “World Class!”
This very special look-alike granddaughter of Two Time
Reserve World Champion, Coosa, has performed beyond
all expectations, and amazed all who know her with her
intelligence, beauty, heart, courage, disposition, and
This gentle, giant Quarter Horse mare has impressed our
family, neighbors, friends, veterinarians, technicians,
farriers, maintenance men, receptionists, and students (both
adult and children alike), with her positive winning
attitude and ability to persevere through a devastating
While she may never have the golden opportunity to become a
World Champion in the show ring, she is “the” champion in
our hearts, and the hearts of all who know her.
As of June 2001, Nicki’s prognosis for regaining her vision
Many times our family considered giving up the fight as we
watched Nicki silently suffer.
But our sweet, “always positive” Nicki remained gallantly
undaunted throughout each tragic flare-up.
She is still teaching our family, friends, and the personnel
at Cornell University about courage, perseverance in the
face of adversity, and how to live and adjust to a
devastating handicap. Most of all, she has maintained our faith in preserving the
great disposition of the American Quarter Horse.
Nicki has been an “ambassador at large” for quarter horses,
creating a positive image for the breed not only for us, but
also for the many, many people whose lives she has touched.
The “unstoppable” Nicki is now well on
her way to a new career as an Anderson Quarter Horse
broodmare, successfully foaling her first baby, a Palomino
Colt, (A.I. sired) by the beautiful AQHA/PHBA Palomino
Winning Colors. Born
in March 2002, Ima Winning Playboy, was more than AQH
could have ever hoped for. He was a perfect golden
Palomino "Playboy" and was destined to be the next,
up-and-coming Stud at AQH. Nicki kept her one good eye on
him all the time, and successfully raised him to weaning,
knowing that her son would soon light up the show circuit,
with his daddy's stature, his mama's sweetness, and his
grandmother's elegance. We were so proud of Nicki and her
Ima Winning Playboy, Summer 2002
After weaning, the "perfect palomino playboy" had what appeared
to be an uneventful winter, growing as all weanlings to
yearlings do, except that his growth rate seemed to be
accelerated. He was absolutely beautiful. His
presence filled the barn, and even Mister's broodmares took
notice... However, Playboy didn't seem to know what his
intended destiny was to be. He remained sweet, docile, curious,
intelligent, willing, and an all around pleasure to work with.
Something happened unknown to this day during the winter of
In the Spring of 2003, Playboy began to exhibit subtle,
quirky signs of intermittent clumsiness, that ebbed and
flowed. Most of the time, he appeared perfectly
normal. By the time Tiffany came home from college for the
summer to work with the new yearlings, the symptoms began to
worsen. By July, Playboy's ground training came to an
abrupt halt. An urgent trip to Cornell University's Large
Animal Hospital where medicine specialists, Dr. Tom Divers,
and Dr. Jerome VanBierveliet, performed an extensive workup
on Playboy. Sadly, the news was grim. Our "perfect
palomino playboy" had suffered a serious spinal-vertebral
injury when casting himself in his stall during the winter
months... A seemingly minor occurrence had become our
Playboy returned home for rest and rehab, although the
prognosis was uncertain. He was put on a restrictive
diet and exercise program to alleviate excess weight and
strain on the spinal column, and to slow his rapid growth.
It was hoped that this regimen would allow him to return to
Cornell for corrective surgery. Throughout the rest of
the Summer and Fall of 2003, Playboy gradually improved. By
September, Playboy appeared absolutely normal, exhibiting no
signs and symptoms of neurological impairment. We thought we
were home free.
Within two months, the situation changed drastically
overnight. Playboy was perfectly fine when he went to his
stall one evening, but by the next morning, was suddenly the
signs and symptoms were back. Over a period of ten
days, his pain and impairments accelerated. When he
went down for the last time, and could not get up, the
decision was made to allow him to be free of this earth.
He was euthanized on November 5, 2003, to the dismay and
heartbreak of everyone who knew him.
Nicki's first born now runs
free...but her second foal by Winning Colors,
Color Me Coosanita,
was born a fabulous palomino filly in April of 2003.
This beautiful filly (now a two-year-old and under saddle)
will soon light up the show circuit as her brother was meant
to. During the Summer of 2003, Nicki injured her one
good sighted eye, while in the pasture with the broodmare
herd. For the next few months, aggressive treatment at
home and at Cornell failed to save her sight. Nicki is now
completely blind, but the unstoppable Nicki continues to
function at AQH as a normal broodmare and a member of the
broodmare herd. Nicki keeps company during the Winter
months with, "One Wish," a little spirited, Welsh Pony, with
attitude ... who loves Nicki and Nicki loves her!
Nicki foaled her third Winning Colors baby, Magical Winning Jane
(sold), in May of 2004. She's a gorgeous chestnut filly without
chrome whom we lovingly call "Plain Jane." Jane won our hearts
with her terrific disposition and her elegant winning ways.
Nicki foaled her fourth Winning Colors baby, a palomino filly that
we call "Winnie Ther Pooh" (registered name pending), in 2005.
Winnie is as gorgeous and sweet as Jane, but is little miss
independent. She'd rather spend the day with people that her horse
buddies. Pooh is elegant and graceful.
"Winnie Ther Pooh"
~Update 2006 ~
Nicki foaled her fifth
Winning Colors baby in June 2006,
Ima Winning Hustler,
an outstanding Palomino Colt who is destined to take the
place of his late brother, Ima Winning Playboy. This
fantastic gentleman is flashy, athletic, graceful, and has a
presence like no other. Already the eye of all the
mares at AQH, Hustler will be weaned in January, 2007 and
start his ground work for Halter.
Watch for this pair on the 2007 AQHA/PHBA Show Circuits.
* * *
Due to her late June foaling,
Nicki was left open in 2006, but plans are underway to ship
in frozen Winning Colors' semen from owner Margie Black in
Wisconsin. It will be one of the last Winning Colors breedings as Admiral Equine tragically lost their fabulous
Palomino stallion, Winning Colors, in the Fall of 2006.
After two unsuccessful attempts at breeding Nicki A.I. with
frozen Winning Colors' semen, Nicki sadly has remained open
since 2007. She will retire as a broodmare and remain at AQH for
the rest of her days.