On the day that Justice died, the bells stopped ringing.
The small, inexpensive chimes, which had once tinkled reassuringly and guided the 31-year-old T’bred through darkness after his vision failed, were now silent and still.
And a great horse departed a world made better by his presence.
Jingling from the halter of Arabian mare Blue Jeans before Justice died, the tinkling led him from one spot to the next, as he enjoyed his last days of a full life that began with a racing career, crested as a quintessential hunter schoolmaster and unbeatable show horse, and ended with the loving hands of children, who would spend hours brushing his bay coat.
But at the end of April, neither Blue Jeans and her bells, nor the children, could guide him further.
Race name: Justice for Barbi
Barn name: Justice
Sire: Mr. Justice
Dam: Barbizon Beauty
Foal date: Feb. 17, 1984He suffered a stroke on the Lesley Chapel, Fla. farm that had become his home, the sound of bells jingling next to him as his pasture pal put her head beneath his drooping face and tried in vain to lift it. The mare was led away, and the children sent home early so that the great horse die away from their sight.
And afterwards, a piece of his tail was cut and saved by his closest friends, and those silly bells were removed from Blue Jeans’ halter to be tucked away, forgotten in the barn where Justice was once so revered.
“I had him for 25 years,” says owner Dr. Susie Beck Davis. “The first time I saw him, I remember saying that I didn’t know what it was, but there was something special about this horse.”
And he proved her hunch time and again.
“Fast forward a few years, and he became the quintessential school master. He took care of everyone in his lessons. And he had so much talent as a hunter that he was unbeatable at his level in the Southwestern Florida circuit. He was a class act.”
Beyond winning ribbons, he put a fledgling riding facility on the map by winning droves of admirers and riders. The riders learned to ride properly or face a mild rebuke. And admirers marveled that a 3-year-old toddler could crawl under the horse and sit playing beneath his belly as he stood like a statue.
“I personally witnessed a young girl riding him in a lesson who wouldn’t stop yanking on his mouth. She was told to stop pulling his mouth, and trust him to do his job, but she didn’t listen,” Davis says. “So when she asked him for a lead change, he popped his hip so high while he changed leads that he popped her right out of the tack. He didn’t hurt her. It was nothing bad. But she was humbled when she got back in the saddle” and rode him correctly—lesson learned.
When it was time to retire the old gentleman, Davis found a place for him at Healing Horses, One Child at a Time. The small nonprofit charity pairs older horses, some abused, some unwanted, with children in need of equine therapy.
For three years, Justice enjoyed the affection of children of all ages, and the unstinting care of Beverly Levitt, the charity’s founder. In Levitt’s hands, Justice maintained such good health he looked far younger than 31. And on the day he died, Levitt was one of the last to put a reassuring hand on his white muzzle and tell him goodbye.
Later that day he was buried in his paddock, which he had shared with Blue Jeans. The bells are now silent. But a life was lived and the memories ring on.
—Author’s note: Around the time of Justice’s death, the certified nonprofit charity Healing Horses One Child at a Time lost a major funding channel. Founder Beverly Levitt announced earlier this month that her 14-horse charity would soon close its doors.
19 responses to “The bells stopped ringing for Justice the T’bred”
Thank you to all who have read this story and for the kind comments. Justice was a talented OTTB with multiple, successful careers so beautifully written about by Susan but the other emphasis of this story is the rescue’s dire financial situation where Justice lived as a therapy horse. Please visit the website: http://www.healinghorsesonechildatatime.com and click on “How you can help” for information re:donations.
Other sites to visit are FB-“Healing Horses”-One child at a time, Inc -501(c)3 and Beverly Levitt’s FB page- Beverly is the founder and boss mare of Healing Horses. An amazing lady and mission in life.
The horses, children, Justice & I thank you so much. Susie Beck Davis
Healing Horses “One child at a time” Inc. is a Non for Profit 501 (c) 3. We are listed with GreatNonforProfits http://greatnonprofits.org/org/healing-horses-one-child-at-a-time-inc
We are a Silver Certificate Non for Profit with GuideStar at http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/27-4132399/healing-horses-one-child-a-time.aspx.
Our Florida State Registration for a Non for Profit to solicit number is
HEALING HORSES “ONE CHILD AT A TIME” INC.
EXPIRATION DATE: December 17, 2015
To continue our mission to save horses like Justice from a bad ending and in turn have these horses help special needs and at risk, often abused or abandoned children, means we need public support! Pledges of $5 a month can ensure we keep our doors open to lift the innocents in need like Justice and the 100’s of children’s hearts he lifted.
Our paypal link is:Pay Pal donations: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=QQXJHJ5E7RXVN
Our address for snail mail is: 28821 Bennington Drive Wesley Chapel. Florida
Our facebook page is:https://www.facebook.com/HealingHorsesOneChildAtATimeInc
Our website is: http://www.healinghorsesonechildatatime.com
Thank you each for the wonderful comments about a soul so missed here!
Beverly, thank you for supplying all of this information…I just made a small monthly donation which I hope will help in some way to keep the doors open of this wonderful organization. Hoping that many others will help. God Bless you and your efforts on the horses behalf. RIP Justice.
Thank you from our hearts to yours! We never charge here to help a child, so donations are the only way we can continue. Yours is deeply appreciated by all here!
So happy to note the address to send a donation. I hope my contribution and that of many others will keep this wonderful charity open and helping many more horses and children.
We deeply appreciate the love and support Joyce Ellis! From the horses, the children, the wonderful volunteers here and myself, a heart felt thank you!
So beautifully written about such a noble horse, and having known his journey through such a loving and giving Lady Bev gives unending care and nurturing to all animal kind and especially to the children who have been touched by her love and these amazing creatures. The sad fact her charity and work has reached the point where it’s on the brink of collapse because of lack of support when it comes to money saddens me so much when so many waste dollars on waste and where a couple of $ can and would help so many is very hard to justify in this world. Seeing it happen a country away i have seen the goodness this charity does and wish anyone able and willing to help would, as a little can go a long way to keeping it going and with it the feeling of having done something truly worthwhile in our journey in life. Many accolades to all involved in this charity and who’ve been blessed in its existence. Australia
That is a very beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing. Justice was a sweet soul and he couldn’t have found a better home to live out his final years. Bev – thank you for all you do for everyone who crosses your path. And PS – Healing Horses One Child at a Time hasn’t closed its doors yet – please visit their website and donate if possible so Bev can provide comfort and full bellies to many more like Justice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And Justice – rest in peace sweet boy.
What a beautiful and touching story, you really are as special as he was !, RIP I think it’s a shame you can’t keep up the great work that you have done.
He was an Angel… So missed!! We Must help Bev, and the babies!! WE All need to help, $10- $20 a Month helps…Anything!!!!!! Please just Help !!!!
Thank you Susan from our hearts for sharing Justice’s story of devotion, loyalty and love till the end. He was an incredible, giving soul that gave his complete heart to every soul who entered our gates. He is deeply missed and never will be forgotten. May he be a lesson to all that even old and blind, our horses are sentient beings, that have so much to give to our youth and our society.
A sweet, sad and beautiful story. So sorry the charity will be closing. What will happen to Blue Jeans, and the other horses? Can’t something be done so this well-deserving organization can continue to operate?
Susan, you did yourself very proud with this story, my friend. Not only do the tears come for the gentle old soul who went to his richly-earned reward, but for the sweet seeing-eye mare who loved him, all of the adults who took such magnificent care of the old gentlemen, and for the many children who loved him and will now face not only his loss but the loss of the charity where they learned to love horses. It’s really sad that the charity can no longer continue. Who will care for Justice’s paddock?
How bittersweet. I see this not as sad, but as sweet and kind. My wish would be that all could enjoy a lifetime of love and go softly and gently as he did. Those around him will sure miss and remember him.
So well written – you sure do pluck the heartstrings. Thanks for this sad, sweet story.
John, thank you.
Prayers for the broken hearts left behind.
Run with the wind, Justice. You are forever loved.
The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears. ~Arabian Proverb
Run with the wind great one.
Such a beautiful story – RIP beautiful boy