The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 29, 2012

Horse rescued in honor of Newtown shooting victim


CNHI News Service

Hamilton, Mass. — Six-year-old Jessica Rekos will never see the horse she dreamed of owning, but a non-profit is hoping to honor her memory by rescuing a colt and pairing it with a budding equestrian like her.

Rekos was among the 20 children and six adults slain a by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., two weeks ago. She had loved horses and wanted one of her own. Her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos, had promised to get her one when she turned 10.

In her  memory, Hope4Horses adopted an 8-month-old, standard-bred colt from a slaughter pen and named it Rekos. Janine Jacques, a co-founder of the group, will travel to New Jersey next week to pick up the colt, which will stay in the group's barn in Hamilton until a family is selected to adopt it. Jacques said they'll look for a family with a girl about Rekos' age who shares her passion.

The idea for the tribute came from the Equine Rescue Network, an online network maintained by Hope4Horses to find homes for the horses it rescues and rehabilitates.

"What we are trying to do is fill her dream,” said Jacques. “It is really sad for a lot of us, because the horse community very much sticks together. It is just sad we lost one of our own. it is sad to lose any kid in such a tragedy.”

Rekos' parents wrote in a statement: “Jessica loved everything about horses. She devoted her free time to watching horse movies, reading horse books, drawing horses and writing stories about horses. She asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat.”

Jacques said many in her group identify with that image.

“I grew up as that little cowgirl," she said, "I can really relate to this little girl who spent all of her time watching horse videos, drawing horses and wanted a horse."

Rescuing a horse typically costs about $1,000. Hope4Horses supporters took to town caroling, and raised $900.

About 157,000 horses will be sent to slaughter in Canada or Mexico this year, said Jacques. Her volunteer group has saved 120 horses since it was founded in 2010.

Once the group finds a perfect home for Rekos, it will send a bound book to Rekos' family.

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Details for this story were reported by The Salem, Mass., News