Equine therapy horse Jess still working at 42 in in Western Victoria

The year 1980 marked the beginning of a decade filled with iconic moments that shaped the world as we know it today (not to mention plenty of blockbuster movies, tunes and big hair).

It was also the year bay x brumby mare, Jess, was born in regional Victoria.

Jackson Park Equestrian Healing Center equine therapist said Jess’s age was proven by her distinct branding as she guided her into a grassy Mount Wallace paddock, north-west of Melbourne.

“It confirms her age… it’s complete confirmation she is 42 this year,” she said.

horse eating grass in
Jess has exceeded the average life span of a horse by more than a decade.

When Jess met Louise

Jess was originally from a property in Meredith, a town between Ballarat and Geelong.

Ms Jackson was contacted via social media about five years ago after the property owner died.

“They were setting on the property and Jess had nowhere to go,” Ms Jackson said.

“They contacted us to see if they’d taken her under our care.”

horse with woman in green top
Louise Jackson looks after Jess at Jackson Park Equestrian Healing Center and Horse Agistment.(ABC Ballarat: Lexie Jeuniewic )

It was a resounding “yes” from Ms Jackson.

Jess has since been helping special needs children and other mostly National Disability Insurance Scheme clients as an equine therapy horse.

“Jess is mainly used for sensory therapy needs, but she can also work under saddle and she does like occasional rides from the children to help with their mobility,” Ms Jackson said.

“She’s definitely a yearling at heart and has a free spirit.”

Eight more years to crack Aussie record

What was believed to be Australia’s oldest horse, Calypso, died aged 50 on the Gold Coast in 2020.

An old horse with children at a birthday party in paddock
‘Calypso’ lived until 50 in the Gold Coast hinterland.(ABC Gold Coast: Tom Forbes )

The country’s oldest living racehorse is Phantom Rock, who is preparing to mark his 40th birthday on the Sunshine Coast this year.

Ms Jackson said she was confident Jess was the oldest horse in the region — if not the state — and “definitely has a few more years in her”.

“She’s fitter than most of our racehorses and a spring chicken in her own mind,” Ms Jackson said.

“Hopefully, she makes the record.”

two women with a horse.
Louise Jackson cares for Jess with Megan Sidnell.(ABC Ballarat: Lexie Jeuniewic )


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