Wrangler Jean, a young red pony, came to us in 1981, found running the streets of Newark NJ. The city girl was on her way to the country! Once she was settled in the yard, she didnít take anything from the other ponies and soon became the ruling queen at Popcorn Park. We all thought she was just a tough city girl until the day after Christmas in 1986, when a horse named Sunshine came in.
Sunshine had been taken by the SPCA from a farm where she was found emaciated along with eleven other horses. She was the last one still alive, but not doing very well. We built a make shift stall and closed her in because of the cold and so we could treat her. She was so weak we were afraid the ponies would give her a problem.
Jean stood by that stall door just about 24/7. We would have to pull her away to get in and treat Sunshine. We all thought Jean wanted to make sure that this new horse understood that she was in charge. After a week, we let Sunshine out on a nice day. We held Jean back so there would be no problems, but Jean finally broke away and went right to Sunshine -- only to smell her and chase away the other ponies. She wanted Sunshine all to herself; she followed and stood by Sunshine wherever she went.
That night we put Sunshine in, and again, Jean stood guard all night. We finally let her in the stall to stay with Sunshine. And thatís all she wanted, and then only to go out when her patient was allowed out. That was what Jean the city girl was really all about -- looking out for everyone else. But Sunshine was her favorite, always beside her.
Wrangler Jean with best buddy, Holly
Jean ruled the yard but with a kind touch. She watched out for Holly the submissive donkey, insuring that no one would bother her. When new horses or ponies came in she let them know right away who was boss and who not to pick on. Sunshine passed away some years ago and Jean has watched out for Holly ever since then, even with only one eye.
Jean had a cancerous tumor growing behind her right eye. We treated her eye as long as we could, but she finally had to have it removed. She was a trooper and still in charge, even at the Equine Vet clinic! I walked her in to the barn amongst all those thoroughbreds and bigger horses and she held her head high and strutted to her stall. Leaving her there was hard as she had never been any place but the Park after she came to us. But I knew with her attitude she would be alright. We visited daily and then brought her home after 5 days, where she was right back in charge as soon as she arrived.
For the last seven years itís been just Jean and Holly together growing old gracefully. Two years ago Jean came down with Cushings disease, and has been on medication to try and control it along with special shoes to keep her comfortable. She lost sight in her remaining eye early this year, but did very well as she knew her surroundings. She would even come to the fence for popcorn when she heard the kids coming over to see her. She always knew where we were in her stall and paddock, especially when we had to give her her meds.
Last week Jean started to fail; the disease had taken over and she was starting to get disoriented and not wanting to eat. We had to make that decision and she was letting us know it was time, She was at least 30 years old when she passed on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 with all her keepers and human friends beside her, brushing, combing, talking to her and assuring her we would take care of Holly just as she would.