This week, my personality is a lady that I have never met who was brought to my attention by Rosie Wynne-Meador. Jackie Flynt is a remarkable individual who has dedicated her life to rescuing and restoring horses to a quality of life when all other options for these poor creatures had run out. I have chatted with her on a couple of occasions and asked her to answer a few questions in between her multiple chores that she is “saddled” with each day. With her full daily schedule, we had to conduct our interview via email; the answers she provided me were astonishing and absolutely wonderful to read! This lady is so down to earth and her love for these forgotten, often abused animals so large I wonder what we would do without these dedicated citizens who go about their work without the need for fanfare for their service. Once more I am truly amazed with the fantastic work that is being accomplished right here within our midst without our knowledge.
Jackie is a true Calvert County girl and has spent her entire 43 years on her family’s farm in Port Republic. Her dad raised tobacco, and once the use of tobacco became deglamorized, he chose to raise horses on his land instead. Jackie became involved at an early age and has been in love with them her entire life. Upon graduating from Calvert High School in 1990, she tried to make a living away from the farm, but found the standard 9 to 5 job very unfulfilling and missed being with her horses. She made a gradual transition to teaching riding lessons a few days a week. She also started taking in privately owned horses for training. Early in her adult life, she realized that her love of this type of life, while very hard and not always profitable, was what she really wanted to do. She decided to give up a “normal life” and dedicate herself to the caring of these guys.
She is well prepared for this work, taking lessons starting at the age of six and continued through her teenage years and throughout her adult life. She showed horses for many years and still attends training clinics to increase her knowledge. She credits Chrissy and Andy Johnson of “Second Chance Horsemanship” and Corey Jackson with providing her and her crew with her most valuable lessons. She says “she never stops learning and every day is a lesson taught to me by the horse I am training!”
I have learned quite a bit about these animals during this short time “chatting” with Jackie. I never realized there were as many unwanted horses who were untrainable, under fed, or no longer cared for. I know all about the poor “Easter Bunnies” and the gold fish dilemmas when kids lose interest in their “must have” animals, but never considered the same fate often befalls these big “pets”! Jackie’s inability to say “No” led her to become the “dumping ground” for these unloved horses. Her fellow equestrians thought she was crazy for it takes months to train them, feed them and find them homes.
Obviously, this dedication can be very taxing, both financially and physically for just one person, so with the help of her good friends Cheryl Ciccone and Rachel Jones, they formed “Sophia’s Oasis for Eqines” [SOFE] in 2011. Their Rescue organization was named for an old race horse named Sofe given to her by her owner with the condition Sofe would never be sold nor given to anyone else and would be permitted to live out her life at Jackie’s farm. Jackie lived up to her promise, but there were challenges as Sofe became even more stubborn and ill-mannered as she grew older. There were many comments from others to put her down, but Jackie responded with “Well my grandmother is old, but I am not going to put her down”!!! And besides, Sofe earned her keep by becoming a great babysitter for the other horses as they passed through.
Jackie has had many horses just like Sofe come through their organization and, through much hard work, have become model “citizens” and learned to behave and conduct themselves as all good horses should. She tells me she cannot imagine spending her own life of service for someone and then being thrown away because she had a bad day! She receives horses that are about to be auctioned off prior to being sent to the slaughter house [do they still make glue from horses I wonder], or being turned out because they bucked their owner off, or may even have attacked them. She gains horses who refuse to load into their trailers or will not allow saddles to be placed on them. It’s amazing the excuses people give for dumping these poor creatures! It may take as little as 30 days to turn these horses around, but it could take some of these “pets with issues” as long as two years to be rehabilitated due to a whole host of reasons. Jackie says it takes time, patience and a sense of humor in order to do what they do!
Jackie and her husband Ron and their children Caitlyn 16, Kolbie 11, and Sheyanne 4 live on the same road her mother lived on her entire life. Her dad still helps by raising hay to feed the horses. They are always in need of volunteer help to sit with a horse or feed and groom these animals. And donations are really appreciated as there is never enough to run this service. They are a 501c3 approved charity so contributions are tax deductible. Go to SophiasOasisforequines.org for additional information.
What a pleasure it has been for me to report this “good news” story. Jackie, I admire what you and your family and friends are doing here in the County. Keep it up! Hopefully by bringing your special form of volunteerism to everyone’s attention, you will derive additional support for these fine efforts! A special “Thank You” to Rosie for bringing this great lady to my attention too!
Dave Spigler resides in Lusby and has been a resident of Calvert County since 1979. He has been recognized many times for his years of community service. He received the “Calvert You Are Beautiful Award” for 2013 and recognized by the Knights of Columbus as the “Maryland Citizen of the Year” in 2011. He was a member of the HOGETTES, the Washington Redskins “Biggest Fans” for 22 years. If you know of an unsung citizen of Calvert County, please contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.