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Beloved horse ‘Jack’ dies after sinking into creek

South Boston News
Shirley Archer and husband Boyd are mourning the loss of Jumping Jack Flash, shown in the foreground with his sister Dancer Flash. / February 17, 2014
Jumping Jack Flash, better known to his owners at Bright Meadows Farm as “Jack,” became a victim of the week’s heavy snowstorm as the horse got bogged down in a creek and died.

Shirley Archer and her husband Boyd, owners of Bright Meadows Farm in Nathalie, said yesterday that the loss of the thoroughbred Englishshire horse was just “a terrible tragedy. We loved that horse. He was my baby. We’d had him for 12 years,” said Shirley.

As sad as she is, Archer said the effort put forth by the many volunteers who came out to help save the 2,380 pound animal “warmed my heart. They made a valiant effort and did everything possible to save him, but we simply did not have the proper equipment to rescue him.”

Archer said local members of the Large Animal Rescue chapter — including Chad Loftis, Kirby Saunders, Todd Moser and Deputy Greg Nunn — along with another member of the Animal Control unit, numerous neighbors, members of the local National Guard unit, firefighters with the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department and North Halifax Volunteer Fire Department, as well as Dr. Collins from the vet’s office, all turned out to try to save the horse.

Jack had apparently slipped on a slope of a nearby creek and gotten bogged down in the water. It was sometime between 3:30 and 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13 as snow was falling in blizzard-like fashion.

Archer said she had gone out earlier than usual to feed the animals, hoping to finish the nightly task before it got too dark and too cold.

“I noticed that Jack’s sister, Dancer, was acting kind of strange and when he didn’t show up with her, I got concerned. Dancer actually led me to the spot where Jack was caught and we immediately called for help.”

Everyone made a valiant effort to raise the big animal from the creek, she said, but “we simply did not have the equipment to do the job.”

Archer noted that she, Saunders, Moser, Loftis and County Ag Agent Leah Brown earlier in the year attended a Large Animal Rescue seminar and were certified in the class. In that class, they learned how to get large animals out of overturned trailers, burning barns, and other perilous situations. They also learned about the proper equipment (costing around $6,000) needed to carry out such rescues.

“We had to try to get water hoses from the fire trucks underneath Jack to lift him up, but that was rough going.” It took nearly four hours to move the animal and by that time it was just too late, she said.

Neighbors brought larger tractors and everyone did everything they possibly could, Archer said.

The Archers had owned the horse, his sister, Dancer and the mother (which died at the age of 24 several years ago) for the past twelve years. They had taken in the three animals, rescue horses, back when Chesapeake County decided to get rid of them.

“I had a daughter-in-law who knew we loved animals and had plenty of room for them when she learned that the county was going to put the horses down. We bought a horse trailer and went down and picked them up. They were in kind of bad shape. Dr. Younger told me I was spoiling them with all my tender care, but we loved them,” Archer said.

Archer said she is so determined to see that Halifax County gets the equipment that could have ensured Jack’s survival that she plans to start a fund drive for the acquisition.

But in the meantime, she extends her heartfelt thanks to all those who tried so hard to help: “I just feel sorry for whomever has to wash the mud covered clothes those people were wearing during the ordeal.”

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I have had horses all my life and I have never had to waste taxpayer money to try an save one. Can I send the bill to the county for one that got shot during hunting season about 10 years ago? I hope the county sends them a bill. I love how these people come in here and make news out of non news.


What a real moron to post a comment like that...


@allpolitical- Could you be anymore COLDHEARTED! This was not something the owners could have handled by themselves! They needed the community to come together to TRY and help save this horse! I'm sure if you had made public the incident with your horse others would have rallied with you to keep this from happening to other animals! At least the owners of this animal is trying to give back by helping get our area the proper equipment needed so this doesn't happen again! What did you do???


@allpolitical......I am a 48 year old person who has lived in this county all my life and have witnessed numerous times, the generosity of others here and the willingness of others to help out in a time of need. I also have several people in my family who are EMT's, and volunteer fireman. I can only imagine a person as heartless and cruel as you and hope that you are a transplant to this area and will soon find your way out. I hope you never need the services of the good peolpe in this community and instrad of complaining, why don't you consider going out and doing something worthwhile in this community that will make news that is noteworthy to you!!! What a total idiot!


@allpolitical, you are a heartless idiot.


What a sad lonely person to post such a nasty comment. I don't know how you treat your horses, but many people feel that dogs, cats, and horses are family members. Animals are pure love. They are always happy to see you. They are not judgmental, and are always forgiving. They give us so much. what were they to do? Let poor Jack lay there and die slowly. Also, the Archer's son is a local volunteer EMT. I'm sure if something happens at your house you would appreciate him coming to your aid. Let go of your anger.


farmed all my life, family here since 1750s. I don't expect the government to look after my live stock. If neighbors want to help great. But for the county to buy equipment for this, when they can't give raises to employees is crazy Don't compare horses to people.People like you who will complain about property taxes are exact reason that tax rates are high. Where was all outpouring of sentiment for rescue equipment when guy got stuck in well County needs that before they need large animal removal. took hours to get the proper equipment there to get guy out. If lady wants to buy an donate it to the county fine, don't spend my tax dollars on it. Is not fair to the other animal owners that take care of their live stock. I have gotten cows up out of creeks and I am sure that you can do the same for a horse. Stop depending on government comments prove to me that our country will never be self reliant again. You are looking to government to take care of you

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