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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Success Stories

(Sunday Success Stories are a new series here at Eventing-A-Gogo. Each week, we feature a reader's own personal journey through overcoming difficulty and adversity, sometimes against all odds, and pulling through no matter what. These stories are about those who never gave up, and who made a difference in the life of an animal who just needed a little love and care in order to turn around and really bloom again. Send your success stories, past or present, to!)

This week's Sunday Success Story comes from Amanda, who blogs over at A Little Black Pony. Jack is affectinately described as a 'bull-headed old pony,' a type I am all too familiar with myself! When Amanda and Jack first met, it wasn't exactly love at first sight. But with time, patience and hard work, the two of them developed a bond that is still getting deeper by the day. It's something about those black horses, isn't it? I know I always will be a sucker for a tough old little black horse. Go check out A Little Black Pony for more information on Jack!

A Little Black Pony - Jack's Story

((Right: Gulliver)) I came to Canamer Stables in July 2009. I had been doing an on property lease at another lesson/boarding barn, but the barn owner was a money hungry pig who didn't want to spent a dollar to take care of his 30 horses, most of which were unhandled, wild and just going to waste. He didn't even get their teeth floated. I had little to no say in my lease of Gulliver, not on any matter, I was basically just getting an extra ride outside lessons, and I realized I was not going to progress as a rider in the environment, all it would be was stress and hurt because I really could do nothing for my horse.

I had a real bond with Gulliver, and I was broken to pieces inside to leave him, but it wasn't helping anyone for me to stay.

I really liked the new barn I was taking lessons at. I missed the responsibility of leasing a horse, but in a way I suppose it was nice to just go have a lesson and not have anything else to do. The first horse I rode was a large chestnut pony gelding named Teddy. Awesome pony, schooling 2nd level dressage. But I didn't feel a connection, and I didn't feel I felt that way just because I was missing Gulliver

I remember one horse caught my eye in the paddock. He was cob type, maybe a little shorter than Teddy. Black with some modest white socks, and a gorgeously thick, wavy mane and tail. I thought to myself, "Wow, what a beautiful horse!" And then reminded myself you can't ride pretty. But somehow, I think it might have even been just the second lesson, I found myself sitting on that beautiful black beast. Jack was pretty, but he was rather atrocious on the ground. Not aggressive, but very strong, and disrespectful. Definitely dominate. Under saddle, he was...well, mediocre at best. His gaits were sluggish and plain, and I got tired just trying to keep him moving he was so lazy. He was concrete hard in my hands, nose stuck firmly in the air. He wiggle-wobbled all over the place, ran out of the arena at random times. We were not a pretty pair!

I hated him. I just hated him. And for some reason my new trainer couldn't see how much I hated him, and I wasn't sure how to tell her tactfully that I felt that way. I tried riding Teddy again a couple of times, but for some reason, even though he was better trained, I didn't like him as good as Jack. I talked with my trainer about shows, but opted out of going, not only because I didn't feel I was ready, but I hated that pony and I knew we would stink up the dressage arena. I reminded myself that when I first met Gulliver, I hated him too, and he wasn't very promising under saddle either. I kept telling myself that I didn't really hate the black pony, I was just not ready to give my heart to another horse.

Then in October, we went to a show just to school so we could practice as a pair in the show environment. He did better than I'd ever seen him do. He softened, he steped out, and he collected so beautifully. And I was sold on him after that. We didn't ride much for the remainder of the year. It literally rained SO much here, it was too wet to ride, and was usually raining to prevent riding anyway.

When it finally died off, I realized that I had truly formed a bond with the bull-headed old pony, and decided to lease him. For the first couple of months, it was a power struggle. He was out of practice with both ground manners and dressage, and I was determined to get through to him who was in charge, and remind him of his under saddle work. Finally paid off. Instead of knocking me down and running away when I took his halter off to bridle him, he reached out and took the bit himself. Instead of kicking at me when I picked up his back hooves, he handed them to me calmly. Instead of dragging me around when I lead him, he walked side by side with me. Under saddle, his nose came down and he accepted the bit. He started to step out and we discovered he had beautiful gaits with lots of suspension, with natural talent and intuition in the dressage arena.

He was a different horse. We went to our first show competeing together in April, and it was only Jack's second show competeing, and took fourth (overall, juniors and seniors combined - and I was just barely not 19 yet, still considered a junior), and we took Reserve Champion for the junior division. In May at our next show, we took second and third, and would have done better there had he not stumbled and broke his gait during our second test.

We still have some issues. He's by no means perfect. He tests me all the time, both on the ground and in the saddle. He has such spirit to him, and he is so athletic and full of energy, it's easy to forget that he is 18 years old. Especially when he acts about 3! But I am so amazed and so proud of how far he has come, and how much potential he has to go even farther. He was a trail horse with I believe a little barrel racing on the side for 15 years before he came to Canamer Stables. He went from not knowing how to leg yield to doing beautiful shoulder-in work in less than a year. The way he understands and learns so quickly amazes me every day. The most important thing is he has helped me to heal after having to give up Gulliver, and also helped me to overcome many fear issues I have had after a bad riding accident in 2008.

(Send your submissions and stories to! This series is new and can't get underway without YOU! Gogo wants you to!)

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