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Hitt's Dixie Bell...Senior Project by Jennie Stouder

My name is Jennie Stouder and I am a seventeen-year-old senior at Greenbrier High School.  For as long as I can remember, horses have been a huge part of my life.  Since a very young age, I have been fascinated and enchanted by these creatures.  I have been working with horses in close contact since the age of eleven, when I was able to begin taking riding lessons.  By fifteen, I had begun working with "project horses" -- horses whose training had only been started and were then given to me to finish. Because horses have always been such a big part of my life, I was very excited to be able to partake in a senior project that would allow me to continue working with them. (In Columbia County, in order to graduate, all seniors are required to complete a Senior Project that involves in-depth research, and then the production of a product based on that research.)

For my senior project, I researched the Guide Horse Foundation, which places specially trained miniature ponies with the visually impaired in place of a Seeing Eye dog.  I the proposed to begin the preliminary training of a guide pony.  In November of 2005, I began working with Hitt's Dixie Bell, a miniature pony owned by Bob and Shirley Waldera of Butler Creek Stables.  Since that time, Dixie has learned how to respond to various voice commands, load in and out of a minivan, behave in public, stand quietly when necessary, and how to "spook" in place.  The challenging part of this project was anticipating different scenarios she would be put in as well as anticipating the needs of someone unable to see the world around them.

Dixie has come a long way and has accomplished a great deal in the time I have been working with her.  Her enthusiasm and willingness to please has contributed greatly to the success of my project.  By February 2005, I had accomplished my ultimate goal with her.  Together, we had finally accomplished enough with her training for her to be able to visit the local Petsmart, where she behaved beautifully.

Check-out line at Petsmart

Outside the Petsmart Store