Gina Barry recently founded The Joy of Jasper

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Gina Barry would like to share the "Joy of Jasper."

Barry, a local lawyer and horse enthusiast, recently founded The Joy of Jasper Inc., a nonprofit corporation dedicated to providing sanctuary to abused, abandoned, neglected or unwanted horses and ponies. At the same time, the corporation is helping local youths, too.

The corporation was formed in memory of a horse, Jasper, who happened to change Barry's life when she was a teenager. "I worked with Jasper at Jericho in Holyoke through the Therapeutic Equestrian Center as a volunteer," she said. "I had a really strong connection with this horse - I had low self-esteem and struggled with adolescent issues in junior high, and Jasper was the one who gave me confidence."

Jasper, she said, was always "clowning." He would stretch his neck as far as possible in exchange for a friendly pat or a treat - he loved apples. She said he also proved his intelligence, for example, by learning neck reining - the cue that tells horses which way to turn - in a matter of minutes.

But one day, Jasper walked through frozen mud and tripped, shattering all of the bones in a leg. He couldn't be mended and was put down. "I always say, when the bones in Jasper's leg shattered, my heart shattered with him," Barry said.

Barry's heart slowly healed from Jasper's death, but she never forgot the important role that he played in her life. She went on to finish high school,

You may read more at the link below.

by: Elizabeth R. LaFond

The Republican
November 5, 2008

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