A FRIEND WITH WHOM YOU CAN FACE MANY ENEMIES
It was to be her senior project: Find a horse that nobody else wanted one that desperately needed to be rescued save it and then rehabilitate it.
Once the horse was ready, Jaci Weishaar, 17, would pass it on to a young, worthy 4-H'er
for their continued work and pleasure.
It seemed simple enough. And, for the most part, it has worked out that way.
But nobody could have foreseen how much of herself Jaci would give to the young colt she found and indeed rescued.
And nobody could have told her parents, Guy and Peggy, how much the young horse would give their daughter.
"You should see her with this little horse he has been as good for her as she has been for him," Peggy says.
"It's amazing what a horse can do for a kid," says Guy.
Jaci had spent weeks looking all over the country for a rescue horse until last April when she saw a Union County ad offering horses for as little as $20.
"It's pretty hard to find a horse to rescue around here. People usually take good care of their horses," she says.
But when Jaci went to look, she had a choice between Kola and a little buckskin.
"I picked Kola because I liked the little spots," Jaci says, her fingers playing the line of red spots down his blaze like piano keys.
She is fiercely protective of the now thriving yearling, who just five months ago did not know what grain was.
"It took me three weeks to get him to even try (eating) the grain," says Jaci.
At under 400 pounds, Kola was so malnourished and underweight when Jaci was finally able to get a halter on him, it was a weanling-sized baby halter, although Kola was then 10 months old.
Andrea Asmussen, one of Jaci's 4-H leaders, remembers the patience Jaci had with him.
"She is gifted. She was amazing with him," says Asmussen, who has occasionally helps Jaci feed her horses.
"I remember how terrified he was he would try to hide in a corner in the pen. She would sit on the ground for an hour in the pen just waiting for him to make the first move. Her patience is phenomenal. It's still amazing to me what she has accomplished with him," Asmussen says.
Jaci says once Kola decided to trust her, "he trusted me full bore."
With trust came training. And Kola learned quickly.
"He is the smartest horse I've ever owned. Honest to God," Jaci says seriously.
"He's picked up everything I've done. In two days, I got him to lead off-side it usually takes about two weeks to teach that."
During their ground training, Jaci said she never pushed Kola beyond his capabilities. If he balked at what she asked, or seemed confused, she would switch to something she knew he could do always letting him finish the work session as a winner. His confidence grew along with his ability.
Jaci was determined to show him last summer, so in July they went to a show at the Maverick's Arena to see how he handled the hustle and bustle of lots of kids and horses.
He handled it by placing second out of five horses in the in-hand trail competition.
"The only thing he didn't do was trot," she says.
The next month, at the Union County Fair, Jaci and Kola competed in the in-hand trail, colt ground training and colt showmanship.
"He took champion in every one," Jaci says.
With their confidence up, she took him to the state fair. Exhausted by the seven-hour drive, Kola was more resistant but still placed with a red ribbon. And the two have just begun their journey.
In the fall, Jaci will attend Eastern Oregon University to major in agri-business. She freely admits the biggest reasons for stay right here to attend college is walking on four legs across the gravel
driveway of her parent's home.
She plans to train horses as a career and hopes to do more with Kola and others like him.
For now, she has set up a Web site with his story and hopes to get donations for his care which is her responsibility.
When it comes time to give him up, she hopes she can.
She won't sell him, but give him to one who will love him as much as she does.
www.victoryacres.net/Kola is dedicated to keeping all of our Heartfelt Donors up to date on what their wonderful donations are doing for Kola.
Kola joined us on April 19th, 2005
as my Senior project baby.
He is even tempered and sweet as the dickens. He is however, deathly scared of people and quick movements, he was abused, and is about 100-300 pounds under weight.
Excerpts from Jaci's Web diary
Day 1: (4/19/05)
Today I went over with my mom and Robert to pick Kola up. When we got there, we backed the trailer up as close as we could and then went to try to catch him in a small wooden chute.
Kola had a piece of wood shoved behind him and he went under it. After he got away a couple more times, his old owner grabbed his lasso and roped him.
At first I thought it would be fine as it shouldn't hurt him. Then I realized he'd roped him around his throatlatch, not near the base of his neck where it wouldn't choke him.
He wrapped the opposite end around a fence post and about 2 minutes later, Kola collapsed from lack of air. I was boiling ... It was all I could do to keep from wrapping the other end around his neck ... He then had the nerve to say "It is the best lesson this horse will ever learn in his life."
I was horrified. We finally got him out to the trailer and I had taken the lead rope, as I wasn't about to give him back. Kola collapsed again going up the ramp of the trailer. He lay there for about 5 minutes before finally stumbling into the trailer, exhausted and shaking.
When we got him home ... Once he was settled I left him alone to calm down and relax.
Day 2: (4/20/05)
Today ... I walked out to Kola's pen and slowly walked backwards toward him. I got close enough for him to sniff my hand before leaving him in peace to eat his supper.
Day 6: (4/25/05)
(A)fter 4 days of not getting anywhere, I finally decided to go all out. I put a flake of hay in the center of his small pen and grabbed about 8 handfuls of grass. I lay down next to the flake of hay and held ... a handful of grass. Kola, full of curiosity, came over and sniffed the grass ... After 5 minutes I had him eating 2 inches from my head.
Day 16: (5/5/05)
Kola is trusting me more and more every day. He will now let me stroke the blaze down his face while he's eating grass out of my hand ... Kola is starting to slowly shed out ... the more silver he becomes. His mane and tail are extremely thick as well. In June Kola will be gelded. We are still in desperate need of funding for this.
Day 22: (5/11/05)
Kola is now eating pure Safe Choice Nutrena grain and is getting about 5 pounds a day. He is eating 600 pounds worth of Strongid C2 daily wormer and is getting 1 1/2 flakes of Grass/Alfalfa Mix. Kola has gained approximately 120 pounds and has lost most of his worms from sight at least. He is no longer pop bellied and his top line is evening out. His ewe neck is going away and he is shedding out to be a gorgeous silverish red roan. The picture ... shows his extremely kind eye ... (his) hocks no longer rub and his haunches are filling out from being on a hill. His shoulders are still small and bony but they are a lot better filled out then when he first joined us here at Victory Acres.