By Lydia Studley, Mona’s Granddaughter for The Village Magazine, March 2022
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Most people have a grandmother who bakes for them and does knitting and, although my grandmother, Mona Jerome, would surprise us from time to time doing these things, she was better known for her tireless work advocating for and working with wild horses. We have a family joke used mostly by my brothers who strength train college athletes and need to motivate them to work harder, “My grandmother works harder than that.” and the nest part was they weren’t lying!
My grandmother started her work with wild horse in the 1980’s when mustangs were looked down upon. They were seen as the underdogs. Her goal was to work with these horses and then showcase them and their potential at local horse shows, trail rides and community events. She would then find them homes. In 2002 she officially founded Ever After Mustang Rescue as a nonprofit organization to focus 100% on helping save America’s Wild Mustangs. A lot of the horses she helped save had very traumatic starts. Once captured from the wild, coming to the Rescue was often their last chance.
My grandmother served as a mentor in the horse world for many years. A lot of people began taking lessons with my grandmother and, although she wasn’t always considered easy on people, she was respected for pushing them to be better and for always putting what was best for the horse first. Her passion also helped bring many more wild horse owners and advocates to New England.
I want my grandmother to be remembered for devoting her life to her passion. Farm work isn’t easy but neither is rescue work. She really did give a lot of herself to the Rescue and her love for wild horses. I also want her to be remembered for her strong values and faith.
Ever After Mustang Rescue will carry on with her work to help save as many horses as we can, one horse at a time, and I hope that it continues to be a positive environment for people as well. There is something so healing about working with horses and I want more people to experience that.
My grandmother influenced my life in more ways than I realized I was fortunate enough to get to work alongside her for most of my life. As I got older it was always the plan that when she was ready, I would take over the work that she was doing and that’s what I am doing now. Although she left me big shoes to fill, I will continue doing the work as she taught me. I am thankful that I have a huge family to support me – just as my grandmother had – and I think together we can make my grandmother proud.
Mona Jerome & the Mustangs
A personal note from Gabriela Quinn
We are sad to hear of the passing of Mona Jerome, Founder of Ever After Mustang Rescue. Her love for all horse(s) and passion for the Mustangs will be remembered, as well as her commitment towards the rescue of feral horses.
When my 1st horse, Blue, died in 2008 we discussed the possibility of a Mustang becoming a part of BlixxHorses. The decision was very difficult. I could only choose one horse. Since demonstrating the use of a modern bitless bridle for riding and good riding practices was and still is an important part of our work. I didn’t feel it was necessary to use a Mustang that had never been ridden in this way. I felt it would be an injustice to the horse whereas the horse who came, Fritz, had always been ridden and was accustomed to that type use. It was a hard decision as I would have loved to have a Mustang be a part of BlixxHorses.
Due to Mona, locals and visitors to southern Maine are aware of the existence of “wild” horses and the continuing conflict with ranchers over grazing rights between their cows, and the horse’s right to eat grass, preventing starvation. It was due to Mona that more people are aware of the round ups conducted by the Bureau of Land Management, part of the federal government promoting capture and sale of Mustangs. Round ups leave horses severely injured, tear herds and families apart, and ultimately take away the horse’s freedom, so they can be sold for a dollar or placed in rescues.
In addition to all the unwanted domestic horses given up or sold every day, the Mustangs add another population for which homes are lacking, as horse owners continue to sell or give up their horses. As the number of unwanted horses continues to increase, many end their lives transported to slaughter across US borders. Mona helped domestic horses over the years taking in unwanted horses. She was a loyal friend to horses.