A half-brother of Z and Z has joined us at Winsong Farm. He’s a 2006 foal, gelded, grey and named Bucephulus. He’s about 15hh (a height I encouraged Z and Z to STOP growing at, but they persevered to 16.1 plus).

This little guy is bold, sweet, curious and soaking up things at an incredible rate. He arrived last Friday and stepped up on a pedestal. Sunday, he pushed the big ball and held the hat in his mouth. Tuesday he took his first longeing steps around me while I had him on the lead line. And, after playing with him in the morning he was eager to return to the arena in the afternoon. Ann Clifford enjoyed continuing his education.

It was interesting to see his reaction to the big ball when we introduced it to him. He saw me moving it slowly towards him and came to me to see what it was. Pax and Kye, on the other hand, were both very cautious and I had to make sure I didn’t scare them.

At first Bucephulus thought that a pedestal was only for “two hooves”. He stood on it with his front hooves while his back feet were on the arena floor. When I asked him to step up with all four feet he calmly moved the back feet forward then stepped off with his front feet. He wasn’t worried. He didn’t move quickly. He just figured this was a two-footer. I led him to the bridge and he understood that all four of his feet could stand on it. Hmmm…back to the pedestals. On his fourth day (Tuesday) he stood with all four feet on the pedestal twice in the morning. In the afternoon with Ann he did it many times. He used the GAP between the two sessions to sort out what we were asking of him.

Zelador also demonstrated the magic of the GAP a few weeks ago. I free-longed him in the morning and set up some low jumps (about a foot high). He’d only free-jumped a few times in the past year and he had his typical reaction: got a bit “hot”. Four hours later Christi arrived and we free-jumped him. He acted like he’d done it all of his life. Calm, competent, happy. We set up two jumps (one on the north wall, one on the south) and he created a circle and jumped the two at the canter several times without a change in rhythm.

In the latest issue of “Horse Canada” there’s an article about “scent discrimination” training for horses. Bill and I have put Canadian Kennel Club Tracking Dog titles on a dozen Vizslas so this article caught my attention. Turns out there’s a man in Minnesota who uses the small dumb bells associated with the Utility Dog obedience exercise. One of the dumb bells has a scent on it (to start you use yours), places it amongst other dumb bells and the animal finds the scented one and brings it to you. The article mentions a clinic in British Columbia where this man also demonstrated a horse tracking a lost person (from horseback. I’m thinking that if the horse didn’t have a rider the horse would forget tracking and commence eating).

Well, it didn’t take long for me to round up two dumb bells, although I was delayed by tons of snow in the driveway making it impossible to get a car off the property! The snowplow guy arrived and set me free. I drove to Bolton and purchased the dumb bells at a pet store. The clerks there have helped me find horse-friendly objects on several occasions. I’ve got to remember to bring some photos of the boys to show them. I think they believe I’m sane when I babble on about Z and Z…

During the Olympics I decided to try to help Zelador learn how to push the big ball laterally to a person. Still dreaming of passing it back and forth the length of the arena. I figured if I’m on his back I can direct him to stay along the wall, wait till the ball is pushed to him, have him push it back to the person walking parallel to us, etc.

So, without another helper I placed the ball in the arena, got on Zelador and rode him to the ball. Zelador thought this was the best idea I’d ever had. He transformed into this charging maniac. He attacked the ball. Now… this should NOT have surprised me. He does this when I’m on the ground and he’s free with the ball. The good news is: when I’m on the ground I can call to him and he will stop the charge…well, not instantly…

The bad news is: I was no longer on the ground and what I was riding on was as close to a bull-fighting horse as I want to get. After a moment or two Zelador remembered that he had someone on his back. He stopped (on the ball). I got off and I put the big ball back in its storage area…much to the chagrin of Zelador! And, what did I learn from this session: think things through!!!!