Jessica + Sparkles
I grew up asking my parents for a pony every chance I got. I’d ride horses on every vacation we took and almost every toy I owned was a horse or something horse related. When I was 24 and stationed in Virginia to complete my training for the Navy, I took a trail ride with a local rescue ranch. During my ride, I talked to the girls who were working there and asked about volunteering. They were more than happy to have the help, so I started spending my days out there when I was done with training. A couple months into my time there, Hurricane Irene was on her way toward us so we had to evacuate all 13 of the ranch’s horses to Colonial Downs, which was further inland and out of harms way. Our living situation wasn’t the best (the stalls didn’t even have doors on them), but we made due with what we had available.
There was one horse that everyone called the “crazy horse.” Her name was Sparkles and she came from a not-so-great background where she was passed around from owner to owner because nobody wanted to put time or effort into her. When she came to us, she was underweight, had terrible feet and a bad attitude. She was in a pasture by herself while she put on weight and went through training. None of the employees really wanted to handle her while we were away from home, but she needed to be walked and her stall needed to be cleaned. I had a feeling that she wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone made her out to be, so I took on the responsibility of handling her.
The first day that I went in Sparkle’s stall and approached her, she shied away from me, but wasn’t aggressive. I went about cleaning her stall and changing her water. It didn’t take her any time at all to get curious about me and start to move closer. I let her get close enough to smell me and slowly clipped a lead line to her halter before starting to love all over her to see what her boundaries were. It turns out she didn’t have any! She wanted you to touch her everywhere!
From that moment on, Sparkles was my shadow. I walked her all over the site where we were taking shelter and when we returned to the ranch, I did the same. On October 6th, 2011, I officially adopted my very first horse. After six years and an incredible amount of patience and trust, Sparkles is my dream horse and will do just about anything I ask of her. There are many days when it brings tears to my eyes to think of how far we have come.