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.