After I feed Zephy (full name, Bucephalus) in the morning I take him into the arena and we play a little. I turn him loose. While I’m closing the arena/barn door Zephy is checking things out to see if there are any interesting changes.
We meet at the south wall and he does an almost perpendicular (head to the wall) sideways movement for as many metres as I ask. He’s gone at least twenty on several occasions. This is with no lead line, just Zephy reading my body language and going sideways with his body straight.
At this point we’re at the far end of the arena and we begin the free longeing. He walks politely around me, changes direction when asked, trots when cued and canters in a perfect frame (his circle is about three metres in diameter…his choice). He comes in when I stand still, receives his treat and walks with me to the tall pedestal. He loves this “trick” because suddenly he’s TALL (no longer just 15 hh) and he can see the horse in the paddock north of the arena.
We leave the tall pedestal and proceed to the bridge. He stands with all four feet on it, then over to the low pedestal. His front feet are on it and the back feet are still on the arena floor. I ask for a bow and he started by lowering his head. I approach this “trick” with no expectations, just happy to see him lower his head. Well, talk about being an over achiever! As the weeks turned into months with our daily arena outings I watched Zephy modify the “bow”. Nowadays he “knocks your socks off”! He moves his hind legs back and stretches, often with his front legs parallel to the ground. Ann Clifford took the photo, capturing the beginning of the stretch.
After this trick we sometimes push the big ball and other times I toss the ringed toy and he retrieves it. Zephy’s ready for me to present new things to him, so I’d better get organized, pocket a few more treats, have the clicker at the ready and wait to see what this little genius will come up with.