By Kara Pinato Scro/Jump Media
Joker’s Jester is a 12.1h, 9-year-old Quarter Pony gelding who is currently living with a loving family, complete with three young girls to dote on him. But Jester’s story didn’t quite start off that way.
Jester arrived at Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR) in Woodbine, MD, in March 2018. He was sent by the Texas SPCA along with five other horses and was lucky to land at DEFHR. The organization takes in horses from the mid-Atlantic region and elsewhere around the country, supporting their daily management and rehabilitation with the goal of moving them into training. A training arm of its own is what makes DEFHR unlike other rescue organizations.
Upon arrival at DEFHR, Assistant Trainer Leigha Schrader recalled that Jester was friendly and sociable, but had not yet been started under saddle. He’d need a lot more training before he was ready to enter the adoption pool. On the other hand, Jester’s unique classification as a Quarter Pony made him highly adoptable.
According to DeEtte Hillman, Equine Programs Director at DEFHR, Quarter Horses and Ponies are in-demand, and not often available. Being a small, fit, Quarter pony were all points in Jester’s favor—and so was his brain. After settling into DEFHR’s routine, trainer Leigha commented that Jester seem to have just the right amount of “pony-tude.”
Thing progressed quickly. After only 90 days under saddle, Leigha decided it was time to take Jester fox hunting. Unbothered by the hounds gallivanting beneath him, or even a downhill gallop through a stream, Jester’s fox hunting debut was a smash hit.
Her confidence in him growing, Leigha next decided to enter Jester in a local pony derby. There, he jumped around a 2’3” course like he’d been doing it his entire life—all while having just over three months of training under his belt. With his trustworthiness assured, Leigha knew it was time for DEFHR to find Jester a couple of “pony kids” of his own.
The Perfect Fit
After visiting DEFHR with her 4-H club as a child, Jamie Sears knew that one day she wanted to find the opportunity to give a horse with a rough past a soft landing. Her sister had also previously adopted a horse from DEFHR, so when the time came to find her three daughters a pony, Jamie knew exactly where to look.
On her first visit, Jamie was immediately taken with the chestnut Quarter Pony with the big white blaze, and once again when it counted, Jester made just the right impression. Jamie’s youngest daughter, Peyton, had undergone multiple hip surgeries and, as a result, walked a little slowly. Somehow, the day that Peyton met Jester, he seemed to understand. As Peyton took his lead, Jester dropped his head andwalked at the pace she set as they headed from the field back toward the barn. Sears’ older girls, Jordyn and Presley, rode Jester on their second visit, and he seemed happy to calmly trot around the ring without hesitation.
It was soon abundantly clear to the Sears family that Jester was just the pony that they needed. Jamie officially adopted him on December 22, 2018, but decided to keep it a secret for a while longer. Three days later, on Christmas morning, Peyton, Jordyn, and Presley arrived at the barn to find a bright-eyed chestnut pony, donning a large red bow as he waited for them in the aisle.
No ‘One Trick Pony’
Since Jester’s adoption nearly two years ago, Jamie’s daughters have been making the most of their time with him. From the show ring to riding out on trails or grooming and having fun with him back at the barn, every moment they spend together is special. Versatility is yet another one of Jester’s gifts., He and the girls have dabbled in dressage and cross-country, as well as doubles routines, jumping traditional courses, liberty work, and even dashing around in barrel races. Most recently, Jordyn showed him in English and Western divisions at the Harford County Farm Fair, while all three girls competed Jester at the Maryland State Fair.
Just as he demonstrated on Sears’ initial visits, Jester’s special qualities are abundant. He is attentive and sensitive to his riders, easily jumping 2’6” courses with the older girls, but carefully stepping over little jumps with Peyton so she doesn’t become off-balance.
The family’s favorite trait? Jester’s playful personality, which, they say, often shows itself in unexpected ways when he tries to get their attention. His favorite tricks: knocking over jumps and barrels, picking up and tossing brushes, and even playing with coat zippers. If his games are any indication, it seems that Jester is just as happy to have found the Sears as they are to have found him.
About Days End Farm Horse Rescue
For more than three decades, Days End Farm Horse Rescue has been renowned for working to not only prevent equine abuse and neglect, but also to educate the public about equine welfare and help their staff, volunteers, and members of the public become better horsemen and women. Learn more about DEFHR‘s adoptable horses as well as their numerous education and volunteer opportunities at www.defhr.org, email them at [email protected], or follow DEFHR on Facebook (@DEFHR) and Instagram (@4TheHorses).