I finally remembered to introduce the horses to balloons. I bought three bags almost two weeks ago. I opened the pink bag, took out a balloon and tried to blow it up. Sophie advised that I blow it up just a little bit at first. It won’t break easily and when it POPS the sound isn’t too loud. After several minutes I actually got the balloon blown up four or five inches. Now I had the formidable challenge of tying a knot in it. This took several tries.
I started with Zeloso alone in the arena. He was curious about the pink thing. I decided to bat it about. He liked this new game and almost got to the balloon before I did. I took it about ten feet away and popped it. He didn’t move at all. Of course this is the horse that stood on the pedestal at three years of age and was totally oblivious to the ice crashing off the arena roof.
I repeated the exercise with two more balloons.
Next horse, Zelador. He, too, showed no sign of worry.
The following day Sophie commented: “See how they handle things when you let the air out of the balloon.”
I took Zelador to the arena and followed Sophie’s suggestion. He loved watching the balloon zig-zag all over the place as the air escaped. He tracked every move it made and got to the balloon way before I did.
After entertaining my tracking horse a few times I went back to the previous day’s drill: pop the thing. Well, I batted it. Zelador out-foxed me and got to it first. He raised a front hoof and POP!!! He stepped on it! He stood there. Not bothered at all. I had to ask him to move his foot so I could retrieve the balloon pieces.
I heard someone in the barn and called, “Come see Zelador’s latest game!” Brenda came into the arena.
I batted the balloon. Zelador ran to it and (no pop!) he tried to pick it up in his mouth. I moved faster than I thought I could and got the balloon safely tucked out of sight under my arm. The last thing I need is a balloon bursting inside a horse’s mouth!
For some reason Zeloso didn’t get his balloon time that day. However, today I practiced letting the air out of the balloon (while holding it because THIS horse will get it into his mouth if I let the balloon fly). Zeloso surprised me by actually looking intently at the balloon as it made the weird sound. Hmmm….I repeated this at least five more times and his blasé self resurfaced.
Pax had an opportunity to play the new game. I took out the blue balloons and had a great deal of trouble blowing the suckers up! The blue ones are tough to blow up and equally tough to POP. Pax is a bit more worried about this game, but excels at tracking the balloon as the air escapes.
Ron wants to bring a child’s pop-gun and see if the horses can relax with that noise.