It all started off as an inquiry to the Washington Horse Racing Commission (WHRC) concerning a Washington-bred Thoroughbred and evolved into a story about the love for a special horse, and love for horses in general.
I became involved in that I had been on the Commission and had somehow been listed as co-breeder of record of the horse in question.
Jessica Eskelson had acquired J. J. Silver (Clever Allemont—Longmayshewave, by Flag Officer) as a young mare in the 1990s.
My original research on the Internet showed some very conflicting statistics. However, by way of some detective work and intuitive reasoning on my part, and diligent co-operation from Erin Palmer of Reed Palmer Photography, we were able to find an official win photo of J.J. Silver at Emerald Downs in 1996 for Jessica.
I think the letter she wrote in thanks illustrates the care and devotion given to our Thoroughbreds in the way of second careers.
Dr. A. L. “Bud” Hallowell
I wanted to write and thank you again for the photo of my mare, J. J. Silver (as we called her, Angel). It is already framed and hanging on my wall beneath a poem my grandmother wrote for me after we had to put her down.
I also wanted to tell you “our” story.
My parents purchased Angel for me when I was 12 or 13 years old. I used to board her at a ranch in San Diego until we moved to Jamul, California, when I was 14. I did not own a truck and trailer, so I rode Angel everywhere I could. Back then we had access to a community arena where I jumped her (only about 3’6”) and taught her gymkhana patterns. Once a month there was a local gymkhana and Angel and I would participate. We would win almost every event. I was always very proud of her.
We also trail rode daily, sometimes up to 12 hours a day. I would pack a lunch in the morning and then we would be off! Sometimes bareback, Western or saddled English. We would ride past trash trucks, along highways, to local gas stations – she was as bombproof as they come! My farrier always wanted us to compete in endurance races and “Ride and Ties,” but like I said, I did not have access to a trailer. Angel was truly my best friend and we were beautiful riding partners.
When I was 19 years old (that is now eight years ago) Angel severed her superficial flexor tendon on her right hind leg on a warped bedding board in her stall. We called the vet right away and friends helped us trailer her to the Helen Woodward Surgery Center at Del Mar the next day; Dr. Glen Richardson was her surgeon. After several days we took her back home to a friend’s box stall down the road. She had a cast on for about a month when I noticed fluid leaking through the cast. We trailered her back to Del Mar to investigate. She had developed a nasty infection and the original laceration sight looked as if dogs had gnawed on her leg. The surgeon cleaned it out and we started her on even heavier doses of antibiotics; the cast was replaced. After a couple more months we removed the cast and I was cleaning and wrapping her leg daily. Even though it must have been very painful, she allowed me to do this without any fuss. I didn’t even need anyone to hold her for me. We slowly began doing some rehabilitation walking up and down small inclines. After about eight months and about $10,000 Angel was finally doing really well. Our vet, Dr. Larry Catt, was impressed and said most horses would have given up. Once again, I was proud of my horse.
However, just when we thought the worst was over, cysts starting forming on the original wound site. Dr. Catt lanced them and gobs of puss would leak out. Each day more and more of these cysts were forming. I began lancing them myself and we started her on more antibiotics. After a couple of weeks of this Angel stopped eating and drinking. I could see the life being sucked right out of her. She was no longer using her leg like she had been just weeks before and the tissue around the cyst sites was becoming necrotic. I was heartbroken.
Dr. Catt talked to me about Angel’s quality of life. He said the decision was up to me. I knew Angel was done. It had been a battle long and hard fought by us both. Dr. Catt euthanized her in July 2006 – nearly a year after her initial injury. I was there to hold her lead and kiss her face as she went. I will never forget Angel; she was a great teacher and a very good friend.
I know you said you probably didn’t have anything to do with her dam’s breeding, but I’m so glad I found you anyway. Thank you again for doing the “detective” work to find that race photo.
I am now 27 years old, an SDSU (San Diego State University) graduate, married to the love of my life and have a beautiful two-year-old daughter named Darla Dawn. I am also a local horse trainer and riding instructor here in Jamul. My husband is an electrician in San Diego and we live on a six-acre ranch in Deerhorn Valley. I own six horses that are an integral part of my riding program. They are all wonderful, but none will ever compare to my Angel.
I have included some photos of Angel. Unfortunately all of the pictures I have of her were taken before digital photography was available to the masses, so I do not have any copies or anything saved electronically. You can see her silver stripe on her left side in a photo or two, I believe – maybe this is where her previous owner got the name J. J. Silver?
Thank you, thank you, and thank you again for what you have done! I wish you and your family the best and please know that I appreciate your help so much. I am also glad to have made a new friend. I hope we will keep in touch.
Jessica Dawn Eskelson
J. J. Silver (aka Angel) April 15, 1992 Chestnut Filly
Clever Allemont—Longmayshewave, by Flag Officer
Bred by Circle Four Farm and A. L. Hallowell (WA)
Raced four years, 31 starts, 3-3-2, $11,124