SMALL BUT MAGNIFICENT: Meet Jack the Magnificent, E.C.’s Most Famous Mini Horse
pint-sized Eastside Hill equine brings smiles during his morning walks
Jack the Magnificent, as his Facebook page and owner Rose Johnson have dubbed him, is the Eastside Hill pony many Eau Claire residents have come to recognize and adore. Mini but mighty, Jack is a 7-year-old, 400-pound mini horse currently in training to be a therapy animal, and he’s been as much there for Rose as she has been there for him for years now.
“I was paralyzed by a horse 14 years ago, so I was out of the horse world for years after that,” Rose recalled. “After I was done with rehab (which took about a decade), I met Jack just two weeks after I’d ridden again for the first time since. He was just determined he was going to come home with me.”
@volumeoneec The V1 staff got to chat with Jack the Magnificent and his handler, Rose. He’s definitely Eau Claire’s Lil’ Sebastian! Click the link in our bio to read about Jack! #halloween #jackthemagnifecent #fyp #fypage #lilsebastian #parksandrec #parksandrecreation #wisconsin #eauclairewi #chippewavalley ♬ original sound - ParksandRectTiktok
Rose got her first horse after college years ago, having graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2004, and had started several other young horses, too. Though she had loved riding prior to her accident, she remembered being more scared than she thought she would be once she began riding again. Jack entered her life during a time when they both needed each other most.
Jack had been living with other horses and mules on one of Rose’s friend’s land, and though she had tried to acclimate him and the others to each other several times, Jack ended up being a loner; he licked and played with the regular-sized horses too much for their liking, and even a donkey hadn’t liked his playful nature even though they were closer in size. He’d also been re-homed several times before meeting Rose.
“He was a better fit with people than with other horses,” Rose said. “He came home with me and found his purpose in life.”
Many have wondered how, exactly, Rose has been able to live with Jack inside the city limits. Though there are city guidelines about keeping animals such as Jack in the city, being a registered emotional-support animal and having enough land to live on allowed for him to move in just fine.
Coming home with Rose around the initial years of COVID-19, Rose said he reminded people – herself included – about joy and being together.
Now, just about every police officer and bus driver in the area has gotten used to seeing the mini horse out and about, frequenting the Eastside Hill neighborhood during his morning walks. Kids have especially taken to him, and he has a soft spot for them, too.
“The first time I realized that we were going to do more, that he was going to do more, was when a lady pulled over while we were walking down the road and said, ‘Can my daughter meet your horse?’ And this little girl got out, and you could tell she was quite fragile,” Rose explained. “I thought, ‘Man, I wonder what Jack’s gonna do,’ because at this point he was still so new to this life. She came up, and he just wrapped around her and stood there still as stone, and she played with his hair. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen; I cried the whole way home.”
”Jack just knows when people are hurting, so as goofy as he is, he’s got this big heart. you just can’t teach that.” –Rose Johnson, owner
Rose met that little girl’s teacher about a year later and found out she is doing very well and is cancer-free. “Jack just knows when people are hurting, so as goofy as he is, he’s got this big heart. You just can’t teach that.”
Since then, Jack has become a favorite of area daycares, and kids run out to greet him when he walks by, exchanging hugs and kisses. He’s also been to outdoor birthday parties and recently made his first-ever school visit to the Chippewa Valley Montessori Charter School. Though he and Rose are limited to their general area since they don’t have a trailer to transport him long distances, they are happy to trot along together, with Rose riding him too. They’ve walked about 500 miles together in total, she said.
Though certainly still in training – mini horses typically live to be about 35, and Jack is just seven years old – Jack is a big ol’ sweetheart. Rose said he has a large vocabulary and is very smart, able to understand keywords and cues, but the biggest thing for them is working on boundaries, particularly with his mouth. Always licking and grinning, he’s never had an incident with anyone, but Rose wants to be able to fully trust him, she explained.
“He needs to go a little farther on with his therapy training because I have to trust him not to panic, and that’s just going to take practice,” she said. “Once we get transport figured out, I think we’ll go to Farm and Fleet because they’re a good first-practice place. So, for right now, we’re just kind of meeting people outside and practicing.”
Jack loves to walk about and curl up in the corner of his living space in Rose’s yard, toss balls and toys around (including a giant-sized Kong filled with carrots) and enjoy the cool Wisconsin weather thanks to the thick winter coat he grows each year. “He looks like a little buffalo standing out in the snow, and it doesn’t melt on him because he’s got so much insulation,” Rose said.
Folks can message Jack’s Facebook page to set up an outdoor event or a time to visit Jack; otherwise, he can often be seen trotting along with Rose beside him or riding him bareback around the neighborhood. “This was never for-profit or anything, it just really turned out to be a blessing that I want to share,” Rose said. “And, he’s kind of irresistible.”
Keep up with Jack and Rose's adventures on his Facebook page!