Friday, April 16, 2010

Jazz's Road to a Road Trial

Believe it or not, long before I became dog-crazy, I was a horse-crazy young girl, especially Appaloosas. My love for spots actually developed before Dalmatians! Recently, I've decided to combine my love for Dalmatians with my long-ago love for horses and start to train Jazz to compete in a Dalmatian Road Trial. For those of you who aren't familiar with Road Trials, The Dalmatian Club of America describes it as a performance event designed to evaluate the Dalmatian's ability to "coach" or follow the horses. Exhibitors compete as a handler on horseback or in a horse-drawn cart or carriage, with dogs off leash. In our case, it would be with me on horseback and Jazz coaching for 12.5 miles! Our goal is to enter the Road Trial at the DCA Nationals at the end of next April.

Obviously, a trek of this distance requires much stamina and endurance. As with any athlete, it takes a lot of training to reach your goals. That's why Jazz and I are starting a year in advance! The first step we've taken is to build Jazz's core strength by working on fitness balls. This will help prevent injuries during our endurance training.

Here's Jazz doing a nice stretch on the fitness ball.

Here's Jazz sitting on the fitness ball. She's now mastered going from a sit to a down and back to a sit on the ball! She can also put her back feet on the ball and her front feet on my shoulders. We keep teasing that Jazz's brown parts must be monkey!! She's just loving this phase of our training, and I think it's also helping to build her confidence.

Jazz and I have also been walking several times a week, and we are ready to start biking. I just got a spring mechanism that attaches to the bike that, in addition to keeping both Jazz and me safe, will teach Jazz the proper position for "hocking" or coaching beside the horse. Many thanks to Mariann for lending me her bike!

So, the one very important piece missing from this Road Trial equation is the horse! Unfortunately, we do not have a horse, and we're about four acres short of being allowed to own a horse in the township where we live. Once again, Jim and Mariann came to the rescue by introducing me and Jazz to their niece Amy, who owns four awesome, well mannered horses. Jazz had her first up close meet and greet with Amy's horses last evening...and she did great! She was very calm around them, yet very interested. We are really looking forward to doing more work with Amy and her equine beauties. Amy is an excellent horsewoman who also owns a cool search and rescue Lab named Murphy.

Say hi to Murphy, who patiently waited in the car so Jazz could concentrate on getting to know the horses.

Here's Jazz getting to know Belle, a sweet, gentle 18-year-old mare.

Didn't take long for Jazz to get up close and personal with Belle, who was as interested in Jazz as Jazz was in her!
Here's Jazz and Ricky, Amy's handsome young gelding.
I don't know if I was more excited that Jazz did well with these horses or just excited for me to be around horses again! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Amy and her horses (thanks, Jim, for hooking us up and for taking the awesome photos), and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to train Jazz to do what Dalmatians were bred to do. Stay tuned...we have a lot of work ahead of us to make this a reality!


  1. Lisa, This is SO exciting!! Funny, but Appy's were my first love, too. Kindred spirits, I guess. Loads of luck to you and Jazz!!

  2. Oooooh how exciting!! I can't wait to hear more about your training! I had an App when I was younger...she was *crazy*. Hmmm, I'm starting to notice a trend here... :)

  3. Sherri and Kim - How cool that our love for spotted horses turned into a love for spotted dogs!! I think Kim is right, though. I'm starting to see a correlation between spots and just a touch of crazy!

  4. WOW Lisa....How exciting. I had horses before Dals. I got my first pony named Velvet when I was 5 and my first Dal when I was 8. That was a VERY long time ago! I am thrilled that you and Jazz are in training for what a Dal was bred to do!