Gentle giant Black Jack the Clydesdale wins over hearts

Strutting his stuff through the doors of James Watson Aged Care Centre like he owned the place, Black Jack lit up the faces of residents and staff alike on his recent visit.

“He was so beautiful, it made my day!” said one of our aged care clients, Ken. It was a resounding sentiment amongst the residents of our James Watson Aged Care Centre, who received a visit of the equine variety and spent the morning feeding him carrots (his personal favourite) and patting his beautiful dark-grey coat.

“I haven’t seen smiles that big from our clients in the seven years I have worked at St Barts,” Occupational Therapy Assistant Amanda said.

Research has revealed that pet therapy offers numerous benefits, particularly for the ageing population. It has been shown to improve social, emotional and cognitive functioning, alleviate symptoms of depression, combat loneliness, decrease confusion, fatigue and blood pressure, and improve communication and motor skills.

The story of Black Jack is one of survival. Owner Brooke Jones established Black Jack’s Journeys 18-months ago after Jack nearly died from colic. “He can’t handle stressful situations, and he gets ulcers and then very sick,” Brooke said. “I thought he needed a purpose as he has such a gorgeous personality and loves people, so I made a few phone calls to some retirement villages.” Needless to say, Black Jack has certainly found and thrived in his new purpose.

And of course, what creature comes without their own little quirks? Black Jack hilariously mixes being very bossy with other horses with a love for being in your face. “He doesn’t understand personal space,” Brooke said. “So the closer he can put his face to yours, the better!”

With a wonderful ability to create new memories as well as bring back old ones, Black Jack continues to light up the faces of aged care residents across Perth.