Ocala, FL – Jamaica, Chester Weber’s award-winning combined driving horse who was rescued from a slaughterhouse in Belgium, captured the nation’s attention when he won the most prestigious horse title in the country and became the USEF Farnam Platform Horse of the Year. Now, Jamaica’s rags to riches story is being told in the book Beloved Horses in Second Careers (Infinity Publishing) which will be released in September.
Written by Sharon Miner, the book focuses on horses who started their career in one discipline and then went on to have rewarding second careers. Jamaica’s “second career” turned out to be an amazing one, as he famously became part of Weber’s record-breaking international Four-In-Hand Combined Driving team. Jamaica, now 19, was a member of seven of Weber’s National Four-In-Hand Combined Driving National Championship teams.
“It’s amazing to think that many years ago Jamaica was headed to a slaughterhouse before being rescued and trained to pull a carriage for tourists. Jamaica is certainly a high-spirited horse, so it’s not surprising that his carriage horse career was cut short because he was too antsy,” said Chester Weber, who bought Jamaica in 2001. “I’ve never had a horse with more spirit, or more quirks. He works best by being ‘asked’ and not ‘forced’ to do anything. He is even grumpy in his stall unless he likes the person entering.”
Despite his quirks, Weber and Jamaica developed a bond that took the former carriage horse to world championships including winning an Individual Silver Medal at the Four-In-Hand World Championships in The Netherlands, competing in two World Equestrian Games and four World Championships and earning seven National Championship titles.
“Jamaica has certainly had an amazing career. His temperament is that of a competitor, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Jamaica eats, breaths and sleeps competition. He’s tougher than I am,” Weber said.
While Jamaica’s story captivated the nation, it also earned him a fan following. “Jamaica’s story really meant a lot to a lot of people, and whether we were at shows or at home, fans bring him presents and carrots and place them in front of his stall and ask to pose for photos with him,” Weber said. “His journey has been pretty unbelievable and I am certainly glad to have been part of it.”
Jamaica has done his part over the last few years to bring awareness to rescue organizations and horse adoption. Weber donated Jamaica’s winning year supply of feed from Farnam to two different horse rescues. Jamaica also helped raise money for the ReRun Thoroughbred organization by painting a picture with his muzzle.
While Jamaica is still fit, Weber said that when the time comes for his spunky equine teammate to retire, he will always have a home at Weber’s Live Oak farm in Ocala. “Without a doubt, Jamaica will live with me,” Weber said, adding with a laugh. “No one else would put up with him. I am glad, however, that his story has been told in this new book. Jamaica had the ‘second career’ of a lifetime. I am still humbled to think that this simple bay gelding could have traveled from the streets of Belgium to a silver medal and seven national championships and then into the hearts of so many horse fans across the country.”
For more information on Weber and Jamaica, visit their website at www.chesterweber.com. For more information on the book Beloved Horses in Second Careers (Infinity Publishing), by Sharon Miner, visit the website www.bbotw.com or www.SharonMiner.com.
Photo: Jamaica, a member of Combined Driver Chester Weber’s Four-In-Hand National Championship team, is being featured in a new book called “Beloved Horses in Second Careers” by Sharon Miner. Jamaica was rescued from a slaughterhouse before becoming part of Weber’s award-winning team. (Photo courtesy of BlueCentaur.com)