The loss of some horses hits harder than you expect. W. C. Jones lived with us for more than ten years. He seemed a permanent fixture on the farm, never a prima donna, modest in what he asked of his humans and paddock mates, always a kind soul. He hadn’t quite reached his fifteenth birthday. He was solidly paddock sound and seemed one of the healthiest horses on the farm. His fatal attack of colic was unforeseen. But colic can strike suddenly and can be as cruel to young horses as to old ones. W. C. Jones was enjoying his life. It didn’t seem time for him to go.
A son of Volponi, he came to us as an unwanted horse because he was unable to earn on the track. It was his trainer, Christophe Clement, who took the steps to secure his future. In his early days with us he was rather shy. What he seemed to want most was just to fit in with the herd. He tagged along with the other horses like a new kid in school, anxious to be part of the gang. Never at the top of the pecking order, but never at the bottom either, he was…I write this with love because he was such a character that I want to be true to him…Jones was sort of the herd nerd.
Everybody who knew him, horse and human, was fond of him, and he was happy to accomodate to whatever others did. He was content to let others have the limelight. His secret was that he was a lot smarter than he let on.
Jones was rarely to be found grazing alone. He was gregarious, nearly always seeking the company of at least one or two others of the herd. He’d rarely start a paddock race or horseplay, but if anything was going on, he’d usually be in on it. During his decade with us he was in a couple of different herds. These two photos show him with some of the first friends he made on the farm.
He spent his last several years in one of the most spacious pastures on the farm, which is home to a herd of hardy, confident personalities, horses with the energy and exuberance to engage in enthusiastic gallops, games and busy rounds of herd politics.
As this herd matured they bonded more deeply with each passing season. As Jones matured with them he seemed to me to move closer in to its emotional center. It’s an impression I can’t explain logically, but W. C. Jones became an important part of the glue that held them together socially. Though he was one horse in a large-ish herd, I think they miss him.
Of his good times on the farm, maybe the happiest event of all was the bond he developed with staff member Carole Oates. Carole gives the main farm horses a good deal of the daily hands-on care that keeps them sound and healthy. Formerly shy, under Carole’s handling W. C. Jones gradually developed a new confidence and trust. It became so much a part of him that he not only came up more readily for treats, he lingered with assurance and began to welcome caresses and neck and back scratches from all of us. The difference was noticeable. It was clear that W. C. Jones’ last several years were his happiest.
I think he was also particularly fond of Laura. Of his horse friends, he seemed to especially like hanging out with Rail Trip and Photon.
Jones is already much missed on the farm. His good nature, his occasional antics, his sociable eagerness to be part of whatever his herd got up to, the way his big, white blaze signaled even from a distance which one of the all-bay herd was W. C. Jones, are an absence that will take getting used to.
W. C. Jones was very much part of our gang, a personality that was, more than I think I realized, one of the essential ingredients in the mix that has for the last decade been Old Friends in Georgetown. I count myself fortunate to have known him.