My Inspiration – Jasper

My Inspiration for Your Natural Horse, was my beautiful friend Jasper, or to give him his official title, “Lord Knox”.

He liked to remind us all of his title and expected only the best red carpet treatment at all times; premium parsnips in his dinner, a bit of Guinness (appropriate to his Irish heritage) on special occasions (Birthdays- of course being a Lord & a thoroughbred he had to celebrate the official 1st of January one & also his real birth date on march 21st, as well as Christmas & St Patrick’s Day!!) Not to mention the assortment of hand maidens & general assistants he accumulated to lavish him with love & admiration; who together are affectionately known as “Team Jasper”.

He does however return this affection tenfold and has an extensive repertoire of tricks including sweeping the yard & pulling very funny faces to keep us entertained, all of which he knows tend to be rewarded with a mint or other tasty titbit.
As you have probably guessed he is incredibly loved, if not perhaps a little spoilt by all who meet him.
We must however go back a few years to begin our story, as Jasper who is now 19 first came into my life when he was a little 5 year old. The yard I worked at, at the time trained ‘Point-to-Point’ (amateur jump racing) and national-hunt racehorses. Jasper was bought as a point-to-point horse from the bloodstock sales. He is a 16.2hh thoroughbred and was a character from the moment his hooves stepped through the stable door. In fact he was named Jasper (after the English comedian Jasper Carrot) for 2 reasons, the obvious being his gleaming Chestnut (Orange) coat, but mainly because for the first few days he delicately sifted through his feed removing all the carrots & safely saving them to eat all together at the end of the meal, sort of like a dessert!!
He came out & won his first race, having got a little away from the jockey! And that was the start of a career in jump racing that would see him win some good 2 ½ mile chases and then retire at 12 years of age.
His racing career wasn’t without its knocks & bangs. Apart from pulling a tendon, which he recovered from, he also had a small sarcoid high up on the inside of his hind leg. It seems that the years of knocking the top off the sarcoid whilst racing really angered it & in the years following his racing retirement, his sarcoids gradually got worse & worse to the point that our vet referred to them as “the worst case” she has ever seen in over 20years of practice.
Despite our best efforts over the years there seemed to be nothing that we could do to tip the balance in our favour, every time we had the sarcoids removed, they came back bigger, more angry & more aggressive then before. By mid 2008 it was clear that we had exhausted all the options veterinary medicine could offer without any success and much expense along the way. We were left merely using Aluspray daily to try & keep the flies away, but with no further options for treatment left.
Despite all of this Jasper continued to be an amazing horse. He was so happy in himself, loved to be ridden & go out in the field. Looked in good condition with a healthy coat & even though many outsiders judged us as cruel & believed he should be put down, we knew that he was a fighter & that the battle was far from over, all he needed was for us to step up & help him fight.
It was around this time when we had finally given up hope of veterinary help that my mum had a skin cancer scare. For various reasons the doctors messed around & delayed in performing a biopsy & beginning treatment. So we started looking into more holistic options for her. Holistic being the concept of treating the whole person or animal, creating balance between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements of the body. We had always dabbled with holistic ideas, my mum had used crystal therapy, which I vividly remember despite probably only being about 5 at the time she had the treatment. We’d used things like bach flower remedies to get through stressful times and at the age of 18 I’d suffered quite badly from depression and had used acupuncture to treat and control this. My mum was already a regular at the local health food shops, so it was to them that we turned to offer advice regarding the cancer. They suggested 2 things that really seemed to make a difference, Manuka honey from New Zealand & Swedish Bitters cream. She took these & applied them to the growth for 8 wks before the doctors finally did a biopsy & by this point we’d already seen improvements & changes. Miraculously the biopsy came back negative for any trace of cancerous cells, despite the fact that all the consultants she had seen had viewed the biopsy as a mere formality to diagnose cancer before treatment began.
I know there will be sceptics out there but we both believe that it was the holistic treatment in those 8 weeks that healed the cancerous cells & led to the negative biopsy, not a misdiagnosis before the biopsy.
After my mum got the all clear, a little voice in my head suddenly shouted if it can help my mum, maybe it can help Jasper too.
I quickly began researching everything I could about sarcoids and alternative treatments. I discovered people had used Manuka honey with success, but what really stood out for me was a case study I found of a horse that had sarcoids very similar to Jasper’s. I apologise now to anyone squeamish but they were ulcerated, constantly weeping puss & blood and incredibly inflamed. This horse had been treated with Essential Oil therapy very successfully and so it was here we started in September 2008 to see if natural therapies could do what veterinary medicine had failed.
Through our own success on this journey into holistic or natural horse care my own interest has been nurtured, as I’ve witnessed events sometimes nothing short of miraculous as we have continued to experiment with some of the many options available.
When I returned to England I was lucky enough to find my dear old friend Jasper, now retired from racing & enjoying the life of a happy hacker. I was able to ride & spend time with him & it was like finding your favourite comfy long forgotten pair of shoes in the back of the cupboard. Being with him really was like finding part of myself again. So when his owners offered him to me I jumped at the chance & Jasper became the very first horse I had ever owned.
Sadly at the beginning of July 2011 I had to make the heart breaking decision to say a final fare well to my best friend. It was the hardest day I have faced for a long time, but knowing him as well as I did I knew it was time. Repeatedly over the coming months everyone who had known him or I or both of us commented that I had given him the best years of his life & without me his life would have ended much earlier, a sad comfort when everyday I wished i could have had just a little longer to make him proud.
I will always be incredibly grateful for the magical years we shared, the vast knowledge & lessons he so generously taught in his calm, gentle, patient style. I always felt he was just waiting for me to catch up with him, but there was never any judgement on how slow I was at times to grasp what he was teaching. He was a amazing horse who taught me the true meaning of the words courage & compassion. I miss him greatly but feel immensely privilaged he chose to spend his last years with me & to share with me the deep knowledge of this world that has been hidden for so long. I will continue the path & journey we started together, although sadly he will not be there to see where it leads, he handed to Bear the baton to remain as my guide & friend.

Rest in Peace my dear pumpkin, with love always.

Some beautiful words, if you too have lost a loved one – Beyond The Rainbow