Jay was an extraordinary horse because he was both beautiful and adorably cute at the same time. In 2005 my mother bought him from Chain-O-Lakes State Park Riding Stable, a trail horse rental facility in Northeastern Illinois. We were told that Jay was previously an all-English lesson horse before being taught Western at the park. My mom and I became attached to Jay due to his calm temperament and fuzzy white coat that was fun to just bury your face in. Jay was never very people-oriented. He just did what he was asked and occasionally froze during rides or ripped the reins out of amateurs’ hands to graze. Still he was safe enough for my inexperienced mom, dad, and friends to ride. He was enough of a challenge for me to ride when I practiced jumping and other things. I really hoped that one day I would be able to take him to local shows.
Jay liked to survey the paddock a lot, watching out for the numerous wildlife in the forest. He also loved grazing on his pasture overlooking a forest preserve. If enticed by either a person or his friend, Nigel, Jay would enjoy frolicking around the paddock or pasture, sometimes doing a Peppy LaPew bound. He was so beautiful and elegant whether running or just standing surveying things. I decided a good show name for Jay would be Blue Cloud, since he had sky-blue eyes and a cloud-white coat.
Only a few years after we first bought Jay, he developed a tumor in the corner of his right eye. We at first thought it was just an infection, but soon were told it was cancer. At the barn I ride at a large grey Percheron also had the same cancer in one of his eyes. Both Jay and Moose, the Percheron, had the tumors repeatedly removed, but they kept coming right back. A few months later the owner of my riding barn had Moose put down. Still we kept Jay and continued to love him and care for him. Around two years after the cancer first appeared, it had taken over Jay’s entire right eye and was in his left eye also. It was also in his nasal passages and he was having difficulty breathing. Despite praying extremely hard and even having his eye anointed with oil, Jay was suffering and needed to be put to sleep in December of 2009. It was the hardest time of my life. I was horribly upset since Jay was one of my only friends.
I had really wanted to take him to a show where he would look especially beautiful under show tack. However, I was able to take him to several events, including some flat lessons and a jumping lesson at my riding barn. He even went to two game days in October at the barn. In 2006 we entered the costume class dressed as a Native American on her painted white horse. Jay looked very similar to the white horse in Dances With Wolves.
Each winter Jay grew a very thick winter coat, and my mom and I called him our Polar Bear. We dreaded every time it rained because Jay would roll in the mud -- a disaster for a horse that shows every speck of dirt on his coat!
I taught Jay some tricks from the book Trickonometry by Carole Fletcher. Jay learned how to hug and take a rag out of a pocket. He would have learned more if I had had more time to work with him. Jay loved getting horse cookies, and every night he would anxiously wait for his grain, which he absolutely loved.
I and my other horse, Nigel, miss Jay very much and we are devastated by his loss. That same year my grandfather also passed. Maybe my grandpa is riding Jay now. Jay seems like the kind of horse you would ride in heaven.