In Memoriam: Caroline Jaffe

Written and submitted by Barbara Beck

Thin Gray Line

Caroline Jaffe
Horse Warrior
January 16, 1942 ~ October 25, 2009

Thin Gray Line

Ghost Horse Explaining what Caroline Jaffe meant to us is like explaining why you can’t have powdered water. What would you add?

What can you add to somebody who has dedicated her entire life to giving?

CJ, or Potlucky, as we all called her and she called herself, was truly a unique character. How do I describe her? Horse advocate does not seem to do it, although that sums up her importance for those of us who care about horses and their welfare.

CJ, ex lawyer, self dis-barred, turned her life toward her music and helping animals. CJ played with the group Mystic Figs in the Chicago area.

She managed to mix her music with her passion for horses and horse welfare and often sang such songs as “Fusion = Horse-songs for Barbaro.”

Here is a brief excerpt from an autobiography CJ wrote in 2006:

I am Caroline Jaffe – CJ in Hammond IN.

On January 16, 2008 I turn 66. Hard to believe. Still feel like a kid. I used to be a lawyer (1963-82). Was law clerk to US District Judge Julius Hoffman right out of NW Law School, where I got a Master of Laws (LLM) in Criminal Law (Ford Foundation Fellowship) after completing the regular law school program with an LLB and passing the Bar (at 21) in 1963. Went from federal service to the Cook County IL Public Defender’s Office where I eventually headed up the Juvenile Court Division. Left in 1972 in the wake of a politically-motivated scandal, went to work for some rather famous Chicago criminal lawyers. Resigned from practice of law in 1982. From 1982 until the lead lawyer died in 98, I did well enough to maintain 2 horses at boarding facilities, doing writing and research, mainly specializing in criminal appeals and collateral attacks on convictions both State and federal. I was working for just one, very long term, who suddenly decided my services were no longer needed in November 06. I have been scrambling ever since.

I was born into a home with a grand piano in the living room; mother played piano and Dad played violin. Classical and folk music playing all the time, records, radio, live. I started playing piano by ear at age 3 – sat down and played melody to Greensleeves – and they schlepped me to the neighborhood music school where I became quite the oddity. Learned to read music the same time I learned to read English. Got to be quite the prodigy, but quit cold at not quite 16 when I started college. Was told I had to be a doctor or a lawyer, no exceptions. Anything else would be “throwing my brain in the garbage can.” I decided early on that I would do less harm as a lawyer, haha, so switched to Law School after 3 years pre-med (with a 3.75 on a 4.0 grade average).

In 1977 one of my friends dragged me to The Earl of Old Town on a weeknight when there was Open Mike. I didn’t get up on stage that night, but that brought me back to music. Soon after, I was one of the open mikers and played for no less than 9 years for nothing before I was hired as a weekend act. Getting back to music, that’s what really changed my life.

How I got involved with horses & my Horse History

Family all animal lovers & rescuers. Dixie, a black cocker spaniel my parents had brought back from their honeymoon – rescued from the fishing guide who kept her in his car – was the family pet when I was born. Eric the Boxer became my Brother a few years later. The family regarded all pets like people. All life precious, even bugs. Earliest visual memory, my mother eyedropper-feeding a baby bird. On road trips, my father would stop the car to move turtles to the shoulder.

Rich kid; grew up West Side of Chicago. As a toddler I was taken to the pony ride at “Kiddieland” where my grandpa paid the pony boy 5 bucks to make the ride last a long time. By the time I was nine I convinced my familial powers that be and the riding lessons started, along with my Dad who took it up for the first time in his life in his 40s. I rode upwards of 70 horses.

In my mid 30’s I went back to horses and signed up for semi-private lessons. During this time I met Sunny, my horse of a lifetime. After that I had many horses and was rarely horseless until Blackie March 15, 2007. And all of my horses have turned out to be special needs horses who would have been “useless” to most anyone but me.

I learned about slaughter in 1982 and have been fighting it at every possible opportunity since then.”

Most of us met CJ in 2006 as we all watched the racehorse Barbaro in his brave fight to survive a catastrophic injury in the Preakness, shortly after he won the 132nd Kentucky Derby in 2006. We met online and formed a community dedicated to helping Barbaro and his caregivers at the University of Pennsylvania, New Bolton Center. That was the beginning for us. We all turned our focus toward helping horses in any way we could. We did fund raising for laminitis, the disease which actually killed Barbaro, and we went on to fight horse slaughter, and to rescue horses from feedlots where they were headed to a certain death at the slaughter house. Many of us did this through an online site called Alex Brown Racing.

And as the story goes, Barbaro succumbed to complications, or laminitis, actually, on January 29, 2007.

CJ, among others, soon emerged as a leader and took up the cause with Americans Against Horse Slaughter. I think I can speak for all who knew her when I say, “She did it with a passion!” CJ’s lawyer training and past made her adamant about details, crossing the “t’s” and dotting the “i’s.” CJ would post our daily strategy for the horse legislation without fail. I can recall a time when she asked me to do it, as she was having computer problems. I did it, and felt I had done a good job. Well, good for me, but not for CJ! She pointed out all the flaws in how I had posted the information, all the while thanking me, but could I do it this way next time? Well, of course, I did it right the next time! She would say, “Good, good, good, Barb!” and of course it meant a lot to me!

CJ’s passion did not end with the horses. It just began there. She would share her knowledge of cat diseases and treatments, and what worked for her, or “You should try this….”

It was NEVER about CJ. She gave and gave and gave…. to horses, and all animals, and to US.

CJ’s music was as important to her as the horses. The following video is a wonderful tribute to her. In 2007 she attended and performed at Musical Horse Aid in Wisconsin: (

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