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By Rosalie Nitzsche
On my 12th birthday, my parents gave me my frst horse. We
lived on a farm and I did all the normal kid activities - 4-H shows,
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 seemed 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
‘90s. We earned the American Morgan Association’s Bronze
Medallion in dressage, a second place in Training Level USDF
Vintage Cup and other certifcates of achievement. Dressage was
a ft 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 (Equine Protozoal
Myeleoncephalitis) 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
diffcult 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 felds. On the trail Jack is a calming infuence 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
Rosalie and her beloved Jack show off their winning ribbon and
a long and beautiful partnership.
am 70, we qualifed. 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 fguratively. We have made many
wonderful memories and friends in our 24 years together.
About the writer: Rosalie Nitzsche resides with Tom, her husband of 42
years, in a small community in Michigan. Their hobbies include ballroom
dancing, attending the theater and socializing with friends. Their son and
daughter-in-law live close and visit frequently. Her beloved equine Jack is
doing well and Rosalie continues to ride him on a regular basis.
Photos: Photos by Judy Neiberg
A Gift From Jack
The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club is a program
designed to honor senior dressage riders and their senior
horses. To become a member the ages of the horse and rider
must add up to at least 100 years and they must ride any level
dressage test before a judge or dressage professional. For
more information on the Dressage Foundation, please visit