By Cynthia Robertson
Jackson Day, a sweet Arabian horse in Lakeside, has had health problems since he was born in 2001. He has had pneumonia, colic and as a foal even had his stomach pumped. He has had a bone infection in neck and ongoing respiratory and eye infections, along with endless bouts of colic, ulcers and peritonitis of the stomach. It’s enough to make a horse just want to give up, much more his owner.
But his human “mom” Jacki Day has poured love on him since the beginning, even though his own veterinarian recommended euthanasia.
“He was given six months to live and he is now 17 years old,” Day said.
Jackson has never acted sick, Day explained, even with an ongoing fever of 107 and his many conditions.
“He always greeted everyone with a happy whinny and enjoyed life. How could you end the life of something that did that?” she asked.
Jackson Day has a full life now working with children and challenged individuals.
“All horses need to have a job. Jackson can’t be ridden, but he pulls a cart, leads the neighborhood Christmas caroling and provides the music and gives the rides. He does tricks and wears costumes to entertain both children and adults.
“He loves attention,” said Day, who has written a children’s book called, “I’m Jackson Day, and I’m Here to Stay,” about Jackson’s experiences.
Jackson boards at Selah Ranch. Day said that they have been fortunate that Lynda Schaefer, the ranch owner, gives him special care and attention and considers him family.
“He is truly a one-of-a-kind horse,” Schaefer said. “He is our ranch mascot. Out front, for our sign, is a picture of Jackson bowing to the American flag. It is really a miracle he is alive and doing so well.
“Not only has he survived, he has brought joy to so many,” Schaefer said.
The book Day has written intends to get the message across to children that life’s limitations can lead to new achievements and that what you can’t do can be overcome by what you can do.
“The story depicts the many medical challenges Jackson has had but also all the fun, friends and fame he has found,” Day said.
For Day, another important message to pass on to horse owners is that even if they cannot ride the horse, it does not have to be “discarded.”
Jackson’s life and challenges have been explained to groups of challenged children and they are then amazed at his tricks. He dances, smiles, shakes his head no. He gives hugs, counts, and bows, picks up things and gives them to Day and to the amazed people watching.
Betty Patterson, who boards her horse Ginger, also at Selah Ranch, said that it has been an honor to know Day and Jackson.
“Jacki Day is one of the most tenacious, creative and caring horse owners I have ever met and it has been a tremendous privilege to know her and her sweet horse. Watching them interact with each other reveals a deep connection that has been an inspiration and encouragement to me,” Patterson said.
“It takes a village,” Day said.
The book is available on Amazon. For more information about Jackson and what he is doing these days, go to his Facebook page at facebook.com/imjacksonday.
—Cynthia Robertson is a San Diego-based freelance writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.