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Mafi the Wonder Pony

June 01, 2022
Mafi the Wonder Pony

Back in the saddle for the first time on May 10th, 2022. Mafi and her owner, Allison who never gave up!

On February 26, 2022 Orange County Equine Veterinary Services and Newport Beach Fire Department responded to a call where a horse had slipped down a cliff in the back bay of Newport Beach and needed to be airlifted out. Time was ticking and the horse needed medical attention immediately. The horse is a chestnut polo pony by the name of Mafiosa, or Mafi. Thirty people assisted in the rescue of Mafi that day in the back bay. The team included Mafi’s owner, Allison Messenger, Katherine Fertig DVM, Lauren Hunter DVM, the Newport Beach Fire Department and OC Fire Authority. Mafi was sedated by Dr. Hunter and airlifted to an arena a few yards away where she was treated by Dr. Fertig and Dr. Hunter and ultimately transferred to to Chino Valley Equine Hospital for close monitoring


Messenger, an avid polo player, was given a few options while Mafi was in the hospital. Mafi is a very special little horse and Messenger decided to give her every chance at recovery.

After a month in the hospital, where Mafi was treated for a puncture wound from branches, she was released to Orange County Equine Veterinary Services for in barn treatment. OC Equine contacted long time client, Jessica DiCostanzo for care at a private barn in Laguna Hills.

When Mafi arrived, she had an intensive medical regimen that needed to be followed closely and thoroughly. Working Student, Emma Mabry, volunteered to religiously clean and flush out Mafi's 4 inch gash just under her elbow twice a day, everyday. Dr. Fertig and Dr. Hunter alternated coming every few days to do a more through irrigation and deep cleaning of her wound. This cleaning went on for weeks but there wasn't any progress being made in her recovery, she was still limping as her wound refused to heal. Though this Mafi maintained her sweet heart personality- always standing perfectly still for the vets and cuddly to all who cared for her.

There was thought to be deep scar tissue and nerve damage that would stop her from being totally mobile in the future. Mafi would drag her hoof along the ground with every slow step she took. Even with this outcome in mind, the team carried on and never gave up on Mafi- she was so stoic throughout everything.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later Mafi's health rapidly declined. She could barely walk, her wound still wasn't getting any better, there was a mysterious lump near her shoulder, her eyes became dull, she was losing fur all over her body and she was having to start pain medication. Emma would still clean her leg twice a day, do daily grooming, bathing and would smother her in her favorite peppermint treats, trying to make her comfortable.

The vets needed to discuss humane options with Mafi’s owner. Mafi's owner was crushed at the thought of losing her but did not want her to suffer anymore than she needed to. As a last ditch effort, the vets decided to probe the lump in her shoulder one last time.

The last thorough evaluation proved to be successful as an 8 inch tree branch (that was wedged up under her chest/shoulder) finally revealed itself. Due to its location, it was hidden from any previous scans or observations. Dr. Fertig was able to carefully remove the branch in April and her recovery has been going uphill since then. You can now find this branch in a jar on Dr. Fertig’s desk, as a remembrance of Mafi the Wonder Pony. Mafi is now walking like a champ, her fur has grown back, her eyes are bright again and she is gaining her strength back with supplements from T.H.E Equine Edge. Everyday she plays with her neighbors, trots around her pasture and is visibly happier all around. Mafi wasn't ready to go and never stopped fighting, god bless her owner for doing everything possible to save Miss Mafi!


May 5th Mafi was cleared to start under saddle again- she was happy to be back to work. She is being ridden a little bit more each day. Messenger hopped on a week later for the first time since her accident, and had tears of joy. Mafi's new daily regime now includes T.H.E. Equine Edge, Zarasyl and Healing Salve, which is used to heal a few scratches from before - she is almost as good as new! This recovery is incredible, all thanks to her amazing owner, Allison Messenger, the 5 star efforts of Vets Dr. Katherine Fertig and Dr. Lauren Hunter, the team at Orange County Equine Veterinary Services , Jessica DiCostanzo and Emma Mabry.

Check out Mafi now back under saddle!