“Since she didn’t finish her career, maybe the horse could finish it for her,”
LINCOLN, Neb. – Skinny was Vicki Bourg’s horse from the moment she first climbed on his back, sometime after the Burwell Rodeo where she met Jesse Roberts.
She and Jesse had started dating after that rodeo in 2000, and he gave her the horse he’d recently acquired from a guy he’d helped out, who owed him money and instead gave him Skinny.
“I put her on him and away they went,” he told the Lincoln Journal Star. “They got along great, so we just left it that way.”
Skinny was around when Jesse and Vicki fell in love, built a life together and a horse operation on 120 acres in Lancaster County.
He was around when the North Star school resource officer brought kids out to their place to help out, to help them connect, to make up for whatever trouble they’d gotten into at school.
He was around when Vicki got cancer, when Jesse married his longtime love in a hospital room, and when she left her last post on Facebook: “Remember me.”
And last Tuesday, Skinny got a new job with the Omaha Police Department’s Mounted Patrol in memory of his owner, who was as passionate about being a cop and helping kids as she was about her horse.
“Since she didn’t finish her career, maybe the horse could finish it for her,” said Roberts.
He hopes the donation of Skinny at a gathering of two horse trailers, a few friends, family and reporters Tuesday at the Lancaster Event Center also will serve another purpose: reminding people of the scholarship established in Vicki’s name after her death in 2011.
The Vicki Bourg Scholarship gives $3,000 every year to a North Star student who has overcome adversity — the kind of kid Bourg was passionate about, the sort of students she helped and supported in her work as a school resource officer.
“It’s not for a person who’s a straight-A student,” Roberts said. “It’s for the people that need it. If this is what we need to do to keep a kid off the street and out of jail, that’s what we need to do.”
Carla Cue, an LPD officer and friend of Bourg’s, said it was hard to see Skinny disappear into the OPD trailer, but good, because Bourg loved the horse patrol in Omaha, would have loved to see one at LPD.
Jesse got the idea back in April when he ran into a former high school classmate who had spent the past decade on the OPD’s mounted patrol.
Skinny will join seven other horses and live in a state-of-the art arena Con Agra Foods built for the department in 2005. He’ll spend months training and getting acclimated to see if he can transition from a country horse to a city one, something not all horses can do, Omaha Officer Brian Nelson said.
But Roberts thinks it’s a fitting place for Skinny, where he can follow his owner’s lead.
“He’s gonna have a purpose,” he said.