Blind horse, Jazz (right) alongside his mule companion, Grant (left) eat hay outside at Ever After Mustang Rescue in Biddeford. ANGELA PAOLUCCI/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — With a pure white coat and molting around his eyes and nose, Jazz, who loves attention, is a favorite horse among visitors to Ever After Mustang Rescue. The 19 year-old Mustang/Appaloosa mix also happens to be blind and the rescue is asking for public support to fund a new shelter for Jazz.

To help raise funds for the shelter, Ever After is holding an open house on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. “Come see what we do and learn more about Jazz,” Lydia Boothby said about the event.  People can donate at the open house on or online at the website http://mustangrescue.org/jazzshelter.html or through the rescue’s Facebook page.

Jazz is just one of the many mustangs that Ever After Mustang Rescue has taken in over the past 16 years that the rescue has been operating. Mona Jerome founded the nonprofit organization in 2002 with the help of her husband, Brad. Since then, she has shared her almost 30 years of experience working with horses with her granddaughter, Lydia Boothby, who’s been involved in the rescue since it opened.

A new shelter for Jazz is because the stalls in general aren’t standing up to long-term use at the center, Boothby said.  The concern for Jazz specifically it due to his blindness. Sometimes bumps into things or has trouble getting back into his stall.  “(We) want to keep him in what’s familiar” by keeping him a similar area while the barn is being worked on, Boothby said.

Since Jazz’s arrival to the rescue in 2007, he’s become more acquainted with his surroundings despite his blindness. Jazz’s blindness comes from a condition called uveitis, which can be common among horses, Boothby said.

Volunteers and others have been part of a group effort to assist Jazz. He also has an extra-special aid to get around the barn — a mule named Grant. “Since Grant got here, they’ve gone out together” Boothby said. “Horses and mules are very smart,” Boothby said  regarding their formed partnership.

Despite Jazz’s  blindness “he has a happy life,” Boothby said.

Twenty-six horses currently reside at Ever After Mustang Rescue in Biddeford. ANGELA PAOLUCCI/Journal Tribune

He’s been able to better guide himself into his stall by using his nose to feel with his whiskers, she said, and he’s been able to not only develop trust of his other senses but also in the people that work with him.

“His ability to to be so trusting regardless of who it is is very notable of Jazz since getting to that point can be tricky with horses that are undergoing rehabilitation,” Boothby said.

Ever After Mustang Rescue’s mission is to rescue and rehabilitate horses that are in need of a good home, whether that means staying at the rescue for the rest of their lives or being taken into a good home elsewhere. They procure horses like Jazz who was living on a farm in New York with poor conditions and give them the help and treatment they need to hopefully become adoptable and go to a good home.

Ever After Mustang Rescue is located at 463 West St. in Biddeford. To contact the rescue, go to [email protected] or call 284-7721. For more information about Ever After Mustang Rescue, visit http://www.mustangrescue.org/  or the Facebook page @EverAfterMustangRescue.

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