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Rosalie Nitzsche and Bonny Glen Hi Jack

Team #122

On my twelfth birthday, my parents gave me my first horse.  We lived on a farm and I did all the normal kid activities - 4-H shows, many neighborhood rides with friends, and so on.  As a young adult I took a few jumping lessons, but after seeing some accidents, decided to change my focus to something I perceived to be less dangerous.  My jumping instructor suggested dressage.  A number of years passed with marriage and motherhood taking up most of my time before I pursued it. 

Since I could be the poster child for buying horses for all the wrong reasons, I decided to shop for a horse with a bit more aptitude for dressage than any I currently owned.  I shopped and I shopped.  I really wanted a Morgan but they seemed in limited supply with the qualities I sought.  Finally I narrowed the list to two and asked my trainer, Maryal Barnett, to make the choice.  She chose a red chestnut Morgan gelding named Bonny Glen Hi Jack, age six.  It seems he had a questionable past.  He was shuttled from pillar to post, exposed to many differing disciplines and, after continually failing, landed back at his breeder's farm.

Jack seemed to like the structure of dressage.  He spent a month now and then with "Aunt Maryal" to learn new things.  Our lessons progressed and, even though I had no plans to compete, we eventually found ourselves in the show ring.  I think our competition career encompassed three years or so in the early nineties.  We earned the American Morgan Association's Bronze Medallion in dressage, a second place in Training Level USDF Vintage Cup, and other certificates of achievement.  Dressage was a fit for us.

Jack is not a gorgeous horse.  He does not have outstanding gaits or impulsion.  What he does have in abundance is a kind, gentle, and willing spirit.  He is honest and always gives the best he can.  Jack successfully fought back from EPM and just last December suffered a torn cruciate ligament.  The prognosis was to hope we could make him pasture sound, but his riding days seemed over.  That was very difficult to accept, but the barn owner, Renee, took me aside and quietly said, "Don't count Jack out."  She was right.  After months of rehabilitation, we were back to limited arena work.

With much encouragement, Jack and I joined a weekly riding and lunch group at the barn.  When weather permits, we explore trails and fields.  On the trail Jack is a calming influence for the younger horses when it comes to footing and wildlife issues.  He is a joy to ride.

A friend of mine started talking about something called a Century Club Ride that could be done at the Michigan State University Dressage Club Fall Schooling Show.  Since Jack is now 30 and I am 70, we qualified.  I braided, clipped, and made Jack presentable for competition.  It was my great pleasure to once again enter at A, halt at X, and share with him this last dressage test.  We won Training Level Test 1 with a score of 70%.  We concluded our show careers with the judge's kind words - "A pleasure to watch.  Thank you."  I consider our Century Club ride a gift from Jack.  Through the years he has given me so much.  He has taken me places I never thought I would go, literally and figuratively.  We have made many wonderful memories and friends in our 24 years together.