I had saved for years while searching for “the horse.” When I sat on Justin for the first time, I knew immediately that he was the one. He was six years old when I bought him, and I was looking forward to a promising future together. He was everything to me—perfect in lessons, perfect in the show ring, and he even welcomed my then-three-year-old daughter to love on him and ride him. Everything changed six months later on July 4, 2004—The call that every horse owner dreads, “There’s been an accident.” Justin, spooked by fireworks, jumped a fence where a hot wire caught his leg. He panicked, cutting through tissue and tendons into the bone. The next morning Justin’s leg was the size of a tree trunk so we brought him to UGA right away. Upon arrival, Justin scared and in tremendous pain—we were greeted by a team who sedated and examined him. Soon after, I was told that Justin would have to undergo immediate surgery in order to save him. I remember saying, “Do whatever you need to do . . . just save him.”
Justin stayed at UGA for about six months. I hung a sign on Justin’s stall that said, “Where there is life, there is hope.” Over the next two years, he had two more major surgeries and persevered. Justin never gave up—he knew my love for him and my devotion to his recovery. From being told he had a five percent chance to live, Justin defied the odds thanks to the incredible care of the UGA team. Justin’s sweet personality and resilience was inspiring and has made him a favorite at the hospital to this day.
Now 23 years old, Justin holds a very special place in our family. He’s enjoying retirement with his buddies, still comes running when called, and is so appreciative of his beautiful life.