Monday January 24, 2011

Jade Hunter  1984-2011

 We lost Jade Hunter Sunday afternoon.  A few weeks ago he injured his hip and he had been staying in the big barn. He was recovering nicely, feeling pretty good, and enjoying his barn time. Unfortunately, the decision was made to euthanize Jade Hunter when complications arose after a bout with colic yesterday afternoon.

Jade Hunter was perhaps best known for siring the great race mare Azeri, as well as recent graded stakes winner Global Hunter.  A son of the great Mr. Prospector, Jade Hunter himself was a winner of over $400,000. He was a world traveler too, having begun his racing career in England and standing at stud in Kentucky and New York. He also stood overseas for a number of seasons.

Jade Hunter came to Old Friends in 2009, and from the beginning it was clear he was pretty special.  A medium-sized horse, he was a deep red color with an irregular white stripe on his face.   He always came over to the fence to greet visitors, and I got the feeling he thought he fell into high clover when he arrived at Old Friends.  He was a friendly horse, and Old Friends is a never-ending treat for a friendly horse.

Among my first and most lasting impressions of Jade was that he had the clumsiest lips of any horse I ever met.  I suppose most horses can pick out a single, specific blade of grass with their lips.  Jade’s lips functioned about like trying to pick up that single blade of grass while wearing six pair of winter mittens!  He adored his carrots, but he dropped three for every one he got, especially when he first arrived.  His propensity for dropping carrots made children giggle and adults roll their eyes. But he also loved to be patted, he happily accepted kisses, and he adored a good back scratch.  

I never saw Jade Hunter nip, bite, pin his ears or act grumpy.  He never got upset or agitated, except for one time. Last fall, after a choking incident (probably brought on by those clumsy lips and a tendency to gulp his carrots) Jade was restricted from treats.  As you can imagine, he was not happy about this.  After a year of tours and treats, Jade saw no reason why anything should change.  He pouted pretty hard, and that was the only time I ever saw him even mildly annoyed.  And even then, Jade Hunter was too classy to demand treats.  No, Jade opted to make a play for sympathy, and he more than made up for his lack of treats by graciously accepting extra love and kisses in their place.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating.  Old Friends is in essence a senior home, a care facility for elderly horses.  As such, we all know these days will come, and unfortunately with sad regularity.  I adored Jade Hunter from the beginning, as he personified everything people should know about Thoroughbred horses. He was smart, kind, and classy. He had traits many people generally would not ascribe to horses, including personality, charm and wit.

Jade Hunter’s classy attitude and kind heart make me believe people were kind to him throughout his days.  In a world where so many are unlucky, he was a lucky horse.  And I was, as always, beyond lucky to have known him. 

-Val

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Monday January 24, 2011

  1. Victoria

    It eas just this weekend that I particularly looked st his Moneigh that i was lucky enough to acquire at OF auction last Spring. I am sad again. but as you said, it seems as tho he had a good life and of course when he joined Old Friends, it was wonderful right up to the end

  2. Anne

    RIP Jade Hunter. You were a great racehorse and proved yourself as a sire. You now will prove yourself again showing all your “old friends” from the past how you haven’t lost a step and are just as beautiful now as you were from the beginning days as a foal. I consider myself lucky to have seen you years ago and your coat just shined.
    You were lucky to spend time at Old Friends and have some one on one time with some special people who loved you and were in their loving arms at the end. Whom by the way, always have a great tale to tell that will live in memory forever.

  3. MRO

    This is absolutely devestating news. I’ve visited twice, and Jade Hunter probably made the biggest impression on me and my company of casual race fans of any of the horses there. Of course, it was for all of the reasons you described. He was green & drooly, persistent & friendly, and as gentle as can be. I proudly snuck in a few quick kisses during my last walk through. I also have the calendar up & enjoyed seeing his photo every morning. What a month with the losses of Polish Navy & Jade Hunter. RIP.

  4. Jen

    Oh, how sad. 😦 I am so sorry.

  5. 27. So grateful he was with you, and, as is evident, that you all were with him. Thank You All, for all you do for these gentlemen. The world is such a better place because you are there. Khc.

  6. Lois Brooks

    RIP Jade Hunter. I did see him race a couple of times so I guess that tells you how old I am. Was happy when I heard he was going to Old Friends. It breaks my heart each time I hear a horse is put down but since they can’t make the decision it is up to us to know when it is time to cross the Rainbow Bridge. Knowing he was content and happy for the last couple of years eases the pain of his loss.

  7. Sylvia

    Beautifully said, Val. Beautifully said.

  8. Val, we have to stop meeting like this because my heart is just a little bit too broken these days. I know it’s part of the dynamic of Old Friends and it is a fact of life, but each one is different and it never gets easier. Jade Hunter was as you said, a horse that exemplifies everything you would want in Thoroughbred and a friend…kind, intellegent, unique, classy, noble, brave, wise and good with a sage sense of humor and a dramatic flair. We will not look upon his like again. I know the there is horse song among the angels now. Thanks as always for being a guardian to them and telling their stories.

  9. Pam

    I, indeed, have tears in my eyes reading your tribute to Jade Hunter. I remember how excited you all were when he arrived at Old Friends. I’m so sorry for this devastating turn of events. It is comforting to know that he was in a happy place and well-cared for until the end of his days. As you said, this is a home for elderly horses; a place to live out the rest of their years in dignity. Losing one doesn’t hurt any less. I would have liked to have met Jade Hunter.

  10. Gae

    This is a nicely written tribute to Jade Hunter so soon after his passing. Thank you. And yes, he was a lucky horse.

  11. Laura

    I was privileged to meet Jade Hunter several times. The last time was just about three weeks ago. He was in the barn along with Polish Navy. It’s hard to believe he was 27. He sure didn’t look like an elderly horse. When I first read in your blog that he was at Old Friends, I was so impressed —the sire of Azeri, wow! Later on, I was struck by his sweetness and dignity (dropped carrots notwithstanding). Rest in peace, beautiful one. You will be missed.

  12. Rich H.

    I was especially sad to hear of Jade Hunter’s passing. During the time he was at stud in New York I had visited him quite a few times and gotten to know him quite well. He dropped carrots and apples back then also (nice memories). Later on I was so happy to hear that he was going to Old Friends, having visited there every year since Michail started it up. Last Derby week I got to spend some time with Jade and thought perhaps he did remember me from NY. I have been a volunteer at Old Friends at Cabin Creek for over a year so I know how hard it is to lose one of the horses. We lost our beloved Rio (New Export) last summer-he is still missed by everybody. Anyhow, Thanks for the beautiful remarks on Jade Hunter. I will miss seeing him this year but as you said I think he was a very lucky horse to always be well taken care of. He had a very good, long life. Rich

  13. KLB

    As his name implies, Jade Hunter was a jewel of rare quality. I will miss him when I visit this spring.
    Thanks to Old Friends for giving him good years of love, contentment and respect and for that special gift of providing him a gentle crossing.
    KLB

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