April 7, 2011–Jamaica, Chester Weber?s famous combined driving equine teammate, will go down in history as an award winning horse known for his tale of being rescued from a slaughterhouse before going on to compete with Weber in international events. They drove away with numerous USEF National Championships and earned the most prestigious title in the country when he was named the USEF Farnam Platform Horse of the Year.
Jamaica?s story, from near oblivion in Belgium to a world of travel and fame, captivated combined driving and equestrian fans across the world. This year a new chapter in the horse’s life began as Weber retired the bay gelding with the quirky attitude. Jamaica will spend the rest of his life grazing on the verdant rolling hills of Weber?s Live Oak Stud as a retired star and champion for rescue horses everywhere. Jamaica?s official retirement from competition was announced at the Live Oak International Combined Driving Event in late March.
A week later, Breyer?, Makers of the World?s Finest Model Horses, recently honored Jamaica with a retirement ceremony at Live Oak. A Breyer portrait model of Jamaica was released during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games when Breyer created a number of Traditional? Series portrait models of key competitors from various disciplines.
The Breyer retirement party for Jamaica, who recently turned 20, was a star-studded affair that featured 200 ?Committed Collectors? who were invited to share an experience that only Breyer could organize. ?The 200 fans really enjoyed themselves. They were able to meet Jamaica and take a tour of the farm. Jamaica enjoyed the attention and showing off his new Draper Equine Therapy blanket which was embroidered and presented by Breyer,? Weber said, adding that Jamaica had developed quite a fan following over the years.
Weber, who will defend his USEF National Four-In-Hand Combined Driving Championship for the ninth time this year, said Jamaica?s story really held meaning for his numerous fans. ?Whether we were at shows or at home, fans would 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.?
While Weber is quick to talk about Jamaica?s ?difficult? personality, he said he will always have a soft spot for the horse that helped him accomplish so much. ?Jamaica has had a huge impact on my International and National Driving Career,? Weber said. ?I can never thank him enough for showing me, through his difficult nature, how to approach challenges with creativity and persistence.?
Weber said that over the years he and his staff never stopped learning about Jamaica and how to create a win-win partnership with the spunky gelding. Throughout his long and award-winning career, including being part of seven National Championship teams, the Silver Medal win in Aachen and competing in two World Equestrian Games, Jamaica?s quirky personality and tremendous amount of spirit managed to keep Team Weber on their toes. ?You couldn?t force Jamaica to do anything, you had to ask and then see if he was willing to participate,? Weber said.
Jamaica?s future, while once uncertain, is now bright. ?He will live out his years at Live Oak Stud in a large field with other retired driving and racing geldings,? Weber said. ?I always said that Jamaica would live out his days with me because no one else would put up with him, but in actuality, it is my honor to care for him for the rest of his life. As horsemen, we are lucky if in our lifetime we have the opportunity to partner with one horse with the greatness, stamina and tenacity of a true champion. Jamaica embodies all of these characteristics and I will always feel fortunate to have been along for the ride.?
Weber was thrilled when Breyer created a Model Horse of Jamaica and said that fans will be pleased to take home a likeness of the horse that they so admire and support. ?Jamaica is without a doubt a one of a kind horse,? Weber said.
For more information on Weber and his combined driving team, visit their website at www.chesterweber.com.