Jack the Magnificent, as his Facebook page and owner Rose Vincent called him, is the Eastside Hill pony that many Eau Claire residents know and love. Mini but mighty, Jack is a 7 year old, 400 pound mini horse who is currently being trained to be a therapy animal and has been there for Rose as much as she has been for him for years.
“I got paralyzed by a horse 14 years ago, so I was out of the horse world for years after that,” Rose recalled. “After completing rehab (which had lasted about a decade), I met Jack just two weeks after riding for the first time since. He was just determined to come home with me.”
Rose got her first horse out of college years ago after graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 2004 and had started several other young horses as well. Although she had enjoyed horseback riding before her accident, she recalled being more scared than she expected when she started riding again. Jack came into their lives at a time when they both needed each other the most.
Jack had lived with other horses and mules on the land of a friend of Rose’s and although she had tried several times to get him and the others used to each other, Jack ended up being a loner; He licked and played with the normal sized horses too much for their liking, and even a donkey hadn’t liked his playful ways even though they were closer in size. He had also been sent home several times before meeting Rose.
“He suited people better than other horses,” Rose said. “He came home with me and found his purpose in life.”
Many have wondered how Rose was able to live within the city limits with Jack. Although there are city guidelines keeping animals like Jack in the city, being a registered emotional support animal and having enough land to live on allowed him to move in easily.
When Rose came home with Rose in the early years of COVID-19, he said he reminded people — including herself — of joy and togetherness.
By now, almost every cop and bus driver in the area has gotten used to seeing the mini-horse on the move, visiting the Eastside Hill neighborhood on its morning walks. He is particularly fond of children, and he also has a soft spot for them.
“The first time I realized we were going to do more, that he was going to do more, was when a lady stopped as we were walking down the street and said, ‘Can my daughter meet your horse?’ And this little girl came out and you could tell she was quite fragile,” Rose explained. “I was like, ‘Man, I wonder what Jack is going to do,’ because he was so new in this life at that point. She came up and he just wrapped himself around her and stood still as a rock and she played with his hair. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen; I cried all the way home.”
“Jack just knows when it hurts people, so as stupid as he is, he has a big heart. you just can’t teach that.”
Jack the great owner
Rose met the little girl’s teacher about a year later and found out that she was doing very well and was cancer free. “Jack just knows when it hurts people, so as stupid as he is, he has a big heart. You just can’t teach that.”
Since then, Jack has become a favorite of the area daycares, with children running to greet him as he walks by, exchanging hugs and kisses. He’s also been to outdoor birthday parties and recently made his first-ever schooling at Chippewa Valley Montessori Charter School. Though he and Rose are limited to their general territory as they don’t have a trailer to haul him long distances, they enjoy trotting together, with Rose also riding him. They walked a total of about 500 miles together, she said.
Although certainly still in training – miniature horses usually live to around 35 years old and Jack is just seven – Jack is a great old sweetheart. Rose said he has a large vocabulary and is very smart, able to pick up on key words and clues, but the greatest thing for her is working on boundaries, especially with his mouth. Always licking and grinning, he’s never had an incident with anyone, but Rose wants to be able to trust him completely, she explained.
“He needs to go a little further with his therapy training because I have to trust that he won’t panic and that’s just going to take practice,” she said. “Once we figure out the transport I think we’ll go to Farm and Fleet because they’re a good place for initial practice. So right now we’re just meeting people outside and practicing.”
Jack loves running around and curling up in the corner of his living space in Rose’s backyard, throwing balls and toys around (including a giant Kong full of carrots) and enjoying the cool Wisconsin weather thanks to the thick winter coat he grows every year. “It looks like a little buffalo standing in the snow and it doesn’t melt because it’s so well insulated,” Rose said.
People can message Jack’s Facebook page to schedule an outdoor event or to make an appointment to visit Jack’s. Otherwise you can often see him trotting with Rose next to him or riding him bareback through the neighborhood. “It was never for profit or anything, it just turned out to be a blessing that I want to share,” Rose said. “And he’s kind of irresistible.”
Keep up to date with the adventures of Jack and Rose on his Facebook page!