After seventeen years of service and an estimated 2,700 carriage rides, Jimmy Joe is being put out to pasture. Literally.
The 21-year-old purebred Clydesdale, long in residence at Tower Grove Park, will be off next month to fancy new digs in west county — a 100-acre farm in Wildwood.
"He'll have seven acres of pasture and a four-stall barn," says Brigid Flynn, director of development for Tower Grove Park. "He'll be able to relax and enjoy the grass and blue sky."
Flynn said the park was able to find Jimmy Joe's new caretaker via a veterinary hospital, Homestead
, that specializes in large animals. Jimmy Joe's handler, Jeff Kinman, had been working to figure out a retirement plan for the horse, and learned from the Homestead staff about the woman in Wildwood, Toni Reilly.
"We put out word we were looking for a spot for him," Flynn says. "And horse people all talk to each other, all know each other." The match seemed ideal in every way; Reilly even agreed that if Jimmy Joe's residency on her farm didn't work out, she'd give the park the "right of first refusal" to make other arrangements for his care, Flynn says.
Jimmy Joe will be giving his final carriage rides in October, with a celebration of his tenure in the park planned for November 5, from 10 a.m. to noon. It will be free and open to the public.
But Tower Grove Park won't be sans horse for long. Park staffers have already made plans to acquire Moonshine, a younger Clydesdale based in Wonewoc, Wisconsin. After some repairs and upgrades are made to the stable at the park, Moonshine will move in, with a plan to start giving rides in March, Flynn says.
There's one big reason Tower Grove Park settled on Moonshine: His size. At sixteen hands, he's smaller than the average Clydesdale, but just the size of Jimmy Joe. That will allow him to comfortably pull the park's carriages, which are smaller than average to allow them to go off-road and onto trails.
"It was a matter of the horse fitting the carriage," Flynn explains.
Update: Jimmy Joe unexpectedly died on October 12. The celebration to honor him in early November has been canceled.
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COURTESY OF TOWER GROVE PARK