EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 28, 2012

Horse rescued in honor of young shooting victim

HAMILTON — Six-year-old Jessica Rekos dreamed of having her own horse one day.

While her parents promised to get her one when she turned 10, Jessica’s dream will never come true. She was among the 20 children and six adults killed when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., two weeks ago.

“Jessica loved everything about horses. She devoted her free time to watching horse movies, reading horse books, drawing horses and writing stories about horses,” wrote her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos, in a statement. “She asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat.”

To remember Jessica, a Hamilton-based nonprofit organization, Hope4Horses, has rescued an 8-month-old standardbred colt from a slaughter pen and renamed him Rekos to keep her legacy alive.

Co-founder Janine Jacques will travel to New Jersey next week to pick up the young colt and his mother and will bring them to the organization’s barn in Hamilton. Rekos will live in town until a family is selected to adopt him, she said.

They will be looking for a family with a young girl about Jessica’s age who is also passionate about horses, she said.

The idea to rescue a horse in Jessica’s honor came out of the Equine Rescue Network, a website managed by the group that coordinates rescues for young horses. Hope4Horses rescues and rehabilitates young horses under 3 and uses the network to find homes for the horses.

“What we are trying to do is fill her dream,” Jacques said. “It is really sad for a lot of us, because the horse community very much sticks together. It is just sad we lost one of our own; it is sad to lose any kid in such a tragedy.”

She said many of the group’s supporters grew up with the same “horse gene” as Jessica and understand her passion.

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