A prison guard and his old horse making smiles out of manure – philly apple protein

Wernik, 43, has worked as a prison guard at bayside state prison for nearly 20 years, and when he first met joey in 2009, he said, he was lonely, somewhat down, and a bit angry after a difficult breakup. Joey belonged to the lightfoot family back then, the only horse in a small, mossy pasture on route 47 in maurice river township, cumberland county.

Wernik, of del haven, passed joey on his daily commute, and that horse by the fence brought him a few peaceful seconds he carried into prison, where peace finds little purchase. The two strangers had something in common. Joey was born to be fast out in the black hills. Wernick was a track and cross-country star at lower cape may regional high school. He ran a 4:35 mile “many moons ago.”

He gave joey an apple one night and got shocked by the electric fence, but he kept on bringing the apples and their bond grew with each bite.


His decisions that day felt guided by fate, not common sense.Bought joey he was going to buy a horse. Joey had been sent back to tiffany cox, a former owner who lived a few miles away. She also had bad news. Joey had been sold, and wernik was left with nothing more than cox’s promise that she’d call if the deal fell through.

One of the ways wernik has tried to explain his bond with joey is through the follow the apple foundation, a nonprofit he started and funds by selling joey’s bagged manure at roadside stands. He donated the first $475 to various nonprofits and has enlisted colleagues from the prison to help hand out teddy bears at st. Christopher’s hospital for children in north philly.

Wernik has sold 4,366 bags of manure so far at $2 to $3 apiece. Joey can fill a five-gallon bucket a day. None of the manure money goes to joey’s care. Wernik’s prison job pays those bills. He and joey have bounced from barn to barn because of costs.

Joey is living at the sea horse farm now, where the owner has dubbed him “mr.Bought joey patient” because he never squabbles over pecking orders with other horses. Wernik visits him every day, often before and after work. They take a lot of selfies.

Joey’s registration papers hold a few clues to his past. He was born on may 27, 1988, the son of bear N trouble, a stallion owned by a real “south dakota buckaroo” from rapid city, and triple none, a mare that belonged to a rancher in custer. Larry fiala paid $7,500 for triple none in new mexico, one of about 400 hundred horses he has raised on his 160-acre ranch. Fiala didn’t recall joe N trouble, but made a guess about his makeup because of who his “mama” was.

Joey is a quarter horse, “more of a fullback than a scatback,” fiala said, bred to race shorter distances popular in the midwest and the south. It’s unclear how joey came to new jersey, but a woman who bought him here in 2003 said he was the best thing that came out of a bad relationship.Other participants she asked that her name not be used because of that breakup, but said joey will always be beloved.

Joey, the woman said, used to compete in “western pleasure” competitions at 4-H fairs. Those competitions are more about style and manners than speed, and joey excelled after nearly impaling himself on a fence.

When cox bought joey, he didn’t stick around long. She sold him to a woman who wanted a horse to comfort her blind husband. That suited joey just fine.

“I bought joey for my wife. She was real sick,” gary lightfoot said last week by the little green barn he’d built for joey years ago. “she’d go out there and go pet him and it would help her. That’s how it went. It was a real weird thing. Real nice horse.”

Wernik hasn’t set up a way for people to donate yet besides buying manure, but sometimes the honor boxes are filled with more cash than they should be. He chalks that up to joey, too.

Wernik said he’ll keep bringing his buddy apples.Prison guard he’ll dump buckets into bags to buy teddy bears and limp on with his best friend, long after joey has crossed the finish line.

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