Feb222010collage.jpgThe ten year celebration was GREAT! Zeloso had the time of his life. Zelador was a perfect gentleman. Robin pushed the big ball… a few inches. Airosa was lovely. Pax fell in love with the audience, but Ron was able to lure him away (nothing like a BIG CANADIAN looking down at you as you’re sitting behind a barrier). Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” for Kye, who after three weeks of training performed at liberty and did an amazing job with several tricks. Socs was off lead and followed Ann everywhere. Picasso was his sweet self and carried Ann bareback through a trot pattern.

During the rehearsal for Z and Z doing liberty together I realized there was one “sticky” part. I wanted to finish their performance with the two walking to the east end of the arena and stepping up on the pedestals (Zelador on one, Zeloso on the other). The next movement would be the two boys stepping off the pedestals and bowing. When we practiced things Zelador was perfect, but Zeloso wanted to play.

This final part of the routine called for Bill coming to join us at the far end of the arena. The plan was for him to lead (at liberty) Zeloso to the pedestal. I would lead Zelador. Things were going along tickety-boo for a few strides, then WHOOSH!!!! Zeloso invariably spun away, cantering, leaping, jumping and finally stopping near a far corner to stand and watch the proceedings. The first time he did this Bill tried to catch him. I called out (as I was leading Zelador, the saint), “If you try to catch Zeloso he’ll just run and play. Ignore him. Go to the pedestal and flip one of the toys in the air. He’ll eventually get interested and join you.”

“Ignore” was the operative word. Bill ignored me and tried to catch Zeloso. Boy, can that horse cover ground! Zelador and I stood at the pedestal, mouths open, staring…

Bill did not catch Zeloso.

The second time we practiced Zeloso spun away and Bill continued walking to the pedestal. (You CAN teach old husbands new tricks!) After a few minutes of cavorting, Zeloso joined Bill.

There was no doubt in our minds that Zeloso had created a brand new game. Now it was our job to outsmart this sweetie.

My first plan was to change the routine. Instead of having the boys bow near the pedestals we’d have them bow at the far end of the arena. (Isn’t it amazing how brilliant I can be!) With the bow problem out of the way I addressed the “get Zeloso to the pedestal” issue. This took a lot more thought. Initially I pictured Bill putting a halter with lead line attached on the Class Clown, BUT this is supposed to be a “liberty” routine. Hmmm…then my mind went to things that Zeloso REALLY likes. And that’s when “I got it!” Both boys LOVE the carrot/cone game. I’d have two people (each carrying three small cones and three smallish carrots) come join us when we were preparing for the bow. They would place the first cone with the carrot under it a few feet away from us. Then they’d have to scurry towards their respective pedestals placing the second cone about five metres from us and the third cone near the pedestals.

Talk about genius!!!

And, I had not made the mistake of thinking the helpers should approach us placing the cones on the arena floor. That would be a disaster because the horses would notice the cones and leave!

Yep, solved that problem.

The day of the celebration I checked with Ron to make sure he had a helper, cones and carrots. Yep, he did.

We decided to let Bill bring Zeloso alone to the arena and I’d stay in the lower barn with Zelador, because during our first practice we tried placing me and Zelador at the far end of the arena while Bill worked Zeloso at liberty. Zelador and I did a fine job. We stood patiently and quietly. Zeloso decided Bill wasn’t all that entertaining so he cantered down to see what we were doing. Bill also cantered down, albeit much slower than Zeloso. Zelador and I stood still. Zeloso and Bill continued cantering…for a long time. Nope, can’t have Zelador and me in the arena while Zeloso’s doing liberty with Bill.

Since I was at the lower barn I didn’t know how things were “going” in the arena. When Zelador and I entered the arena Bill was talking to Zeloso and Zeloso seemed to be listening…and trotting. We got in the door and Zeloso joined us, then left. When I got Zelador’s halter off I noticed that Zeloso was standing politely on the other pedestal. (Ah, things probably went quite nicely. Good ole, Zeloso, coming through when it counted.) Turns out I was wrong.

I signaled for the music to begin and called out in my OUTDOOR voice, “Zelador, Zeloso, Let’s GO!” Both boys stepped off their pedestals and followed me to the far end of the arena. I signaled for them to circle, change direction, come in to me, move out, circle, etc. and they were wonderful. At one point I asked Zelador to change direction. He did. Now they were circling (one cantering clockwise, the other cantering counter-clockwise). The boys looked GREAT! I called them in and nodded to Bill and Ron. Bill joined me for the bow and Ron and his helper came towards us with cones and carrots.

I’m not quite sure how he did it, but eagle-eye Zelador spotted the orange cone tucked into the crook of Ron’s arm. Zelador sprang to life and trotted forward. I laughed, called to Zelador. He halted. I walked to him and asked for the bow. He did a lovely one. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that Zeloso also performed a bow. By this time the first cones were on the ground. Zeloso was near the north wall of the arena. A cone was on the ground in front of him. Zelador was walking towards his line of cones which were closer to the south side. Zeloso sized up the situation and trotted to Zelador’s cones, then trotted back to his, then trotted over to Zelador’s, then went back to each of the six cones to see if any carrots were left behind.

When Zeloso initially headed south, I directed Zelador to the north. When Zeloso started zig-zagging between cones Zelador joined in this new game. He, too, back-tracked, turning over each cone searching for the treat.

I called out, “We need to pick up the cones or these horses will never be able to focus on us!”

Once the cones were removed Zelador returned to his senses and politely stood on the north pedestal. Zeloso morphed into a leaping, spinning, cantering creature. Bill ignored him and went to the south pedestal. Zeloso continued to entertain the crowd. Zelador continued standing quietly. Ciara was video taping the “show” and she delighted in filming the “good” horse standing on the pedestal, then filming the Class Clown, then returning to the “good” horse. Zeloso continued his performance for quite some time. I can’t remember why or when he stopped. (I’ll have to view the video!) Finally he stepped up (no, can’t say that) he leaped up onto the pedestal and stood looking at the audience and scarfing down the treats Bill gave him. We’re hoping that the “coin will drop” someday and Zeloso will realize that he gets treats while on the pedestal, not while leaping about.