Monday, September 16, 2013

The story of Jello

In the equine world many trainers, riders, barns, etc, have a canine companion tagging along or napping in the barn aisle. I am no exception- my furry little friend is in the form of a 25lb (sometimes more when she finds extra nibbles!) Blue Heeler/Jack Russell cross named Jello. She has been my faithful companion for the past 4 years and I look forward to many more years with my little ball of cuteness! 

 I found Jello on Petfinder, back when I was lonely and dogless. Sure my parents had dogs that I could play with, but they weren't MY dogs. I wanted my own shadow that would follow me around and be my friend. Dogs have always been a part of my life and I was finally in a place where I could take care of one on my own. So enter I use to search through and envision my life with any one of these dogs but knew I couldn't take care of one properly. I had fallen in love with a particular dog named Jello, and after I had made the decision I was ready for my own dog, I thought if Jello is still there, I'll take it as a sign she should come home with me. Sure enough, there she was- still listed on the website. So I immediately sent a request and a few weeks later the energetic, wiggling, 7-9 month old, mangey dog came home with me! She had been adopted out a few times before I got her but was always returned b/c she was to energetic and had a form of demi-mange (non contagious) that was easily controlled if done properly. 

The one and only- Jello
So off I went to somewhere NC, and found a crazy dog that needed a home. Holly, Jello's foster mom, let me take Jello out for a walk so I could get to know her and decide if I wanted to bring her home. I had already made up my mind that Jello was coming home with me, but I accepted the offer and off Jello and I went. Jello was crazy. She was to busy looking at everything going on outside that I could barely get her to pay attention to me. She was a neurotic mess- and I knew that I was in love. We headed back inside and I told Holly I would adopt Jello. After filling out paperwork and all that jazz, Jello loaded into my car and we headed home. That was the beginning of my story with Jello, and I couldn't be happier with my wiggly Jello dog. 

A few days after I brought Jello home in 2009
Even with new puppy bliss, it still took some time for Jello and I to adjust to a life with each other. I quickly found out that she had serious separation anxiety, the blinds in my apartment took the brunt of that test run when I left her at home alone for the first time. No return on my pet deposit there... But as Jello became comfortable in her new life, her demi-mange went away, her energy was spent chasing squirrels at the barn, and we settled into each other lives.

Snuggly Jello

So here I am- 4 years later and still crazy in love with the Jello dog. She sleeps in weird places (search #jellosleeping) and positions, sheds like crazy, and follows me around where ever I go. I know that my little ball of cuteness is never to far away. She trots down to the barn in the morning and lays out in the sun while I'm feeding the ponies, she is always ready to go on car rides and even gets upset if you leave her at home! She'd rather wait for you in the car than wait for you at home. Every day I see her cute little face and I count my lucky stars that the best dog in the world calls me Mom.

look up #jellosleeping on Instagram and you will find various Jello napping spots!

This chair is just right- perfect for a Jello dog

Jello on a mission 

Don't leave home without Jello- she loves her car rides!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

From Bay to Grey

Last year I was making plans with my little bay Connemara/TB cross. I was going to event him beginner novice, try to qualify for the Eventing Championships, and generally have fun with my cute little guy. But since change is inevitable, and plans don't always go accordingly, I find myself a year later with a exuberant grey OTTB mare that I'm trying to keep inside a dressage arena and not go advance speed around a BN cross country course!
schooling Gus through the water- April 2013

The grey ghost herself, Miss Marley- May 2013

I competed Gus at the FENCE HT in April, and we finished 4th overall. We would of been 2nd had Gus not been so in love with his friend Finn and looking everywhere but at the first jump on course, plus I wasn't riding him the way I needed to towards that jump, especially with him being an air head about his buddy. Even if the rail had stayed up and we did finish 2nd, I knew in my heart that Gus just wasn't all that jazzed up about jumping. He can jump, and is a cute little jumper, but his heart just isn't in it, and when the jumps get bigger it could become pretty dangerous. I've taken my share of falls from Gus because he wouldn't pick his feet up going over the jump. As my coach Annie says, he just doesn't have any self preservation and that can be very dangerous over bigger jumps. So I put some feelers out for Gus and ended up finding the perfect home for him. He is now trail riding and fox hunting with my mom's good friend Cyndi. She is a great rider who just wants to have fun and puts up with Gus's silly moments. Plus I get to see him every time I head to my parents' because he's boarding at their place! 

Gus is a cute jumper when he wants to be!!!

 With Gus now enjoying his life as a fat, happy, trail/fox hunting pony, the grey mare that I've been riding on and off for a while had a chance to step into the lime light and become my main focus. Previously I wrote a post about taking her XC schooling for her first time last fall, and then I took her to a Ralph Hill clinic back in January. She's such a cool OTTB with so much heart, but trying to keep her relaxed while riding her is like holding a ticking time bomb. If you "cut" the wrong wire you've got pieces flying everywhere, but there is very little difference between the right and wrong wire. To be fair to her, she's only been in consistent work for 3 months, and even that is a bit questionable b/c we've had sooooo much rain this summer!!!! Either way, Marley has been getting a lot of work and really is progressing, even if at times it feels like at a snail's pace.

This past weekend I decided to take her to her first event. We headed off to the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club Sizzling Summer Schooling Horse Trails (non recognized) for our first outing at Beginner Novice. Last year I won the event with Gus, but this year my goal was to stay in the dressage arena (no joke- this was real goal, not just a laugh!) and to stay in a controlled trot/canter in stadium and XC. I wasn't worried about time or jumping faults, or even what the final Dressage score would be. I just wanted to complete and not scare the living daylights out of the jump judges!

The end result- SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We stayed in the dressage ring, had a terrible score, but again considering I was worried about elimination, I could care less about the score.

Marley being calm...

submission- what?

ok, back to being good...ish
 Had a very green rail in stadium (not listening to a half halt to the 3rd jump on course which was a vertical with a downhill approach will do that to ya). We started to find our rhythm towards the end of the course, but we need to work on keeping a steady pace and not letting the momentum keep building jump after jump- gymnastics are going to be our life for a while!


And to seal the deal, we had an amazing, mostly controlled, cross country round! She calmly cantered most of the jumps, and we came in closer to the optimum time instead of the speed time!

making the warmup jump look like a piece of cake

Overall we ended up in 6th place, I think out of 10 or 12, and I couldn't of been prouder! Technically we were last of everyone that completed, but that is not something I cared about at this event. Marley is still quite green, and is still learning the basics. We were nailed on submission and impulsion in the dressage which showed up in our stadium. But this horse has so much heart that I know I must take my time and do it right with her. There are no short cuts with this girl!!!!

Marley in her new pasture

she's such a pretty girl

Marley and her "gang"- Finn, Arrow, and Chimi