About a year ago Zelador almost did a small canter circle at liberty. He was fooling around and I thought, “That’s approaching a canter pirouette!”

Time passed and we worked on many other things. However, earlier this week the “almost a canter pirouette” idea crept into my mind. Zelador was full of beans so I asked him to “turn” 360 degrees in a small circle in front of me while he was at liberty. He almost kept the canter going through the entire turn, but not quite. I told him he was doing “just great!” He agreed.

The next day, Tuesday, we tried again. He did a bit over 180 degrees, then trotted a few steps, then cantered. Hmmm…

Wednesday I asked him for a tight turn at the trot, just to make sure he understood that I wanted the same gait throughout the turn. He trotted a small 360 with no problem.

Thursday as I was grooming him in his stall and he let me know that he was very proud of himself and figured he could over-step some of my boundaries. He deftly grabbed a quarter inch of my jacket, then quickly let go. I reminded him that his teeth stayed OFF of me!

I tacked him up and led him to the arena. I removed his halter and turned to pick up my “wand”. He quickly put his teeth on my jacket and I immediately became a fire-breathing monster. He got the hint!!! He let go and ran for his life. As swift as I was, he was swifter. I yelled unpleasantries as I chased him to the far end of the arena. (It’s surprising how fast I can move through sandy arena footing with cumbersome winter boots on.)

Just as he got to the centre of the far end he collected that animated canter and performed a breathtaking pirouette. He looked at me and if he could speak he would have said, “You can’t be mad at me now. I just did what you’ve been teaching me.”

And to think that I wondered if he understood what I was asking for!