This morning the wind was howling around the arena, but that didn’t deter Zelador and me. I turned him loose. He trotted to the northwest corner and prepared to lay down. I joined him just as he lowered his hind end to the ground…joining his front end.
He had that expectant “Looking forward to receiving some treats” look and I obliged. Now for the slow return to his feet. I said, “Up” and he untucked one front leg and extended it in front of him. Click/treat. I said, “Up” and raised one hand, palm up. He extended the second front leg. Click/treat. Now for the tricky part. I stuck with the work “Up”. He raised his chest a few inches off the ground. Click/treat. I said “Up” again. He raised a few more inches. CLICK/TREAT/TREAT/TREAT!!!! I was ready to step back and have Zelador return to a standing position, but he wasn’t done with me yet. He gave me that “I actually figured out what you’d like me to do” look and raised himself a few more inches. He was sitting, waiting for the click and thinking about the treat.
He was rewarded.
Zelador stood up and I praised him, figuring we’d accomplished more than anyone could ever hope for, but he still had some things to show me. I stepped away and he started to prepare to lay down…again. This time he didn’t wait for me to ask him to slowly rise. He rose up on those front legs and stopped. There was a very proud horse looking at me. Click/treat. I thought, “Well if he’s still game to try this, I’ll see if I can help out.” I encouraged him to rise a few more inches. He went to his previous sit position and improved upon it. Looked like he could sit there for hours.
I was astounded. What a horse!
I walked to the toy area to fetch the ridged ball and a jumping pole. We’ve been practicing retrieving a ball over a pole. As I approached our “jumping” site I noticed that Zelador was still in the lay down area. He obviously wanted to strut his stuff again. However, my activity ten metres to the east of him was intriguing and he joined me.
The routine we’ve been practicing is: Zelador is cantering. I throw the ridged ball over the pole (I tried using the soft rings, but I wasn’t able to toss them more than about fifteen feet. He’d jump and land on the thing), he goes over the pole, finds the ball, picks it up, returns over the pole and lets me take the ball from his mouth. Every once in a while he looks me in the eye and goes around the jump!
We’ve also been doing some work with the big blue tarp. Zelador’s totally at liberty and I ask him to stand still. I walk around him carrying the tarp. I try to change the way I shake the tarp. I raise it over my head, I drag it behind me, I shake it beside me. He’s very relaxed with the tarp. I also place it on him and ask him to come to me or walk beside me. The tarp finally falls off, but he’s not worried about it. The one worry he has is when I place it over his entire head. I did this once. He backed up as I slowly pulled it off his head. Click/treat. So, today I tried another approach to the “tarp over the head” trick. I placed it over his back, stood at his shoulder, got under the tarp, raised the tarp WAY above my head and asked him to turn his head to me. In doing so his head joined mine under the tarp. Click/treat. He thought this method was well thought out…especially the click/treat part.
I took Zelador back to the barn and brought Zeloso to the arena. He lay down as I was putting his halter and leadline away. He was about ten metres from me. I stood and watched him. He put both forelegs in front of him and very slowly returned to a standing position. If I didn’t know better I’d say that Zelador had been bragging about this new trick and Zeloso figured he’d show both of us that he was incredibly trainable.
A few minutes later I asked for a lay down and a slow rise. He listened carefully and did a great job. Certainly he isn’t sitting, but he’s progressing at a fast rate.
Then I set up the retrieving course. I haven’t done this with Zeloso. I placed the pole on the ground and led him (at liberty) over it. I was carrying the ball. Once we were over the pole I tossed the ball about ten feet. Zeloso fetched it. He came to me. I backed over the pole and he walked over it, carrying the ball.
The next step was for me to toss it over the pole and have him retrieve it. He was a star.
In the next few days I’ll raise the pole and progress to Zeloso cantering a circle, jumping, fetching, retrieving and hopefully NOT becoming creative and going around the jump.
Brenda and Ron are on the lookout for a carpet that is about two to three feet wide and twenty feet long. And, you guessed it, we’re going to teach the darlings to “roll out the carpet”. We think that’ll be a terrific way to start our next “show”. AND, if the carpet is red, that’ll be icing on the cake.