Two members of the Gang on the Hill came to our arena, Georgie (her first time) and Lulu (her third time). Georgie had only rolled out a small section of the carpet in her stall. She rolled out the entire carpet in the arena, no hesitation and no problem. Georgie also got up on the pedestals. Back at their barn we’ve been working on picking up things. Lulu can now walk to the soft toy I’ve tossed across her stall and pick it up. Georgie also picks it up. Duke opens his mouth and almost grasps onto the toy. Lilley touches the toy and Teddy is opening his mouth and tentatively taking hold of a teeny, tiny bit of it.

Marcus excelled in new things yesterday. He’s been able, occasionally, to get all four feet on the low pedestal (it’s about four feet wide by six feet long). Well, not only did he get all four feet up there, he was able to turn a bit on the pedestal. I asked him to do this as I moved to the side. He followed me with a tiny turn. I asked again and he moved all four feet as he was turning with me. Also, he’s not lurching off the pedestal like he did in the good ole days. He understands where his feet are and is stepping off.

He’s become a pro at finding bits of carrot on the big blue tarp. He’s comfortable walking all over the tarp. He’s started playing with the edge of it, picking it up in his mouth, giving the tarp a little shake, then dropping it.

Zelador and Zeloso have learned a new game: find the blue bucket. I’ve done this with only one of them in the arena at a time. Zelador is placed on the pedestal. I leave and place the blue bucket (it’s about twelve inches high, seems like it’s made out of rubber with handles that are the same material and they’re a part of the bucket). Invariably Zelador walks off the pedestal before I’ve positioned the bucket. It’s not unusual to return him to the pedestal several times…

When I’m finally successful at placing the bucket (with a few treats in it) somewhere in the arena, I walk away from it then call Zelador, “Zelador, find the blue bucket.” He is very excited about being released from the pedestal! He leaps. He bucks. He canters. He swoops down on the blue bucket and gobbles up the treats. He added a new step to the game. He picks up the bucket and canters to the pedestal. I added the pedestal at the end of the game when he was at the bucket the first time we played this. I didn’t need that whirlwind skidding to a stop in my face.

Zeloso isn’t quite as enthusiastic. He’ll also leave the home base (pedestal) before I call him and he gets to go back to the pedestal and wait. When everything’s ready I call him and he trots around, looking for the blue bucket. He, too, likes to retrieve it.

I initially tried using a new toy as the marker for the horses to go to. This toy is like a checkerboard of blue and orange with a squeak toy in each square. It’s made out of fuzzy, soft material. I placed a treat on it, but by the time the horse got through nuzzling the toy the treat was coated in arena dust. That’s when I went with the blue bucket so that the treat would be clean.

After several days of this game I decided to find some more buckets, different coloured buckets, and see if the boys could have several buckets in the arena and be able to go to the colour I designated. I started today with Zelador. I found four additional buckets: red, orange, purple and pink. I took the red bucket to Zelador and introduced him to it. I also showed him the blue bucket. I placed a few treats in the red bucket then positioned it and the blue bucket in the arena. Bill was with us to keep Zelador on the pedestal. He was marginally successful…Zelador snuck off once!

When the buckets and Zelador were in place I called to him, “Find the red bucket.” He swooped to the blue one, checked for treats, found none, picked it up, carried it to the red bucket and proceeded to try to place the blue bucket inside the red one. Hmmm…

This activity didn’t quite work the way Zelador wanted. The red bucket rolled away. I said, “Find the red bucket.” He dropped the blue one and picked up the red one, totally ignoring the treats. I went to him and fetched the goodies from the bottom and fed them to him. Back to the pedestal. Bill kept the boy on the pedestal. I set out the buckets, called Zelador, asked him to find the red bucket and he picked up the blue one. Bill commented, “He likes the colour blue.” Looks like he’s right!