Zelador’s been on a tremendous learning streak during this cold weather. It was so cold (the temperature steadily below minus eighteen) that I didn’t ride the boys Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, however we did liberty work. Today it’s really warm and we’re heading over to them in a few minutes.
Zelador is now picking things up and carrying them to the low platform. This came about on Thursday when I showed him the big pink bunny. He picked it up and I had a brain storm. Why not move to the low platform and say “Are you READY? HUP!!” He’s heard that thousands of times and he just might carry the bunny with him. He started walking towards the platform, swinging the bunny all over the place. And, just before he stepped up onto the platform, he dropped the bunny. I instantly said, “Zelador, where’s your pink bunny? Pick up the bunny.” I kept repeating this and pointing at the bunny with the guider whip. He went to the bunny and picked it up. He received praise and I said, “Good! Hup!” He actually got to the platform with the bunny. (At one point I began wondering if he picked it up and carried it JUST to keep me quiet!) We did this a few more times. On each occasion he dropped it along the route and each time I cheerfully encouraged him to pick up the bunny. Every time Zelador got on the platform with the bunny he received tons of praise and a treat.
When Zeloso had his turn I showed him the eight inch round ridged ball. I was thinking that we could roll it back and forth to each other. I can’t use the big horse ball with him because he gets VERY excited and wants to breed it. I figured he won’t be trying to breed the little ball!
I rolled the ball past his nose. He followed it, snuffled at it, then picked it up and held it for several seconds. Hmmm…I guess I’ll forget teaching passing and see if he can carry it.
The next day I showed the ridged ball to Zelador. He carried it to the platform on his own. That’s when I thought, “How about getting a bucket for him to drop it into.” I fetched a muck bucket (which Zelador inspected) and dropped the ball into it. He ducked his head deep into the bucket to check out the ball. I removed the ball, rolled it past him, then asked him to pick it up. Between his holding the ball and me getting the bucket near him, he was able to drop it in the bucket.
Zelador also put together quite a chain of things:
-stand on the platform
-walk to the pole on the ground and go over it sideways to the right
-return to the platform
-walk to another pole and go over it sideways to the left
-return to the platform and receive tons of praise and a treat
Zelador totally understands the rotating top pedestal. I tap its top and he walks over and places a hoof on it. Most of the time he positions that first hoof properly so there’s room on the sixteen inches for his second hoof. He happily shows me that rotating up there is a lovely way to view the entire arena.
He and Zeloso are old pros at standing on the platform, leaving it and walking over to a series of four orange (six-inch-high) cones placed on the arena floor. Each one has a piece of carrot under it. They LOVE that game.
The last two days I’ve left the big door into the arena open (too hard to push open and shut) and closed the lower swinging door. I placed the lead line on that lower door. Yesterday Zelador ambled over to the door, picked up the lead line and carried it to the low platform. He covered a distance of at least twenty feet. He stood there with it hanging from his mouth, waiting for praise! He got some and a treat. These past few days he’s done so many things that I’ve used up my pocket full of treats.
Saturday I introduced them to jumping over the pole placed in two of the blok by blok system. The pole is about ten inches off the ground. Zelador went to the left first (on the south wall of the arena) and did circle after circle, calmly, at a lovely canter. To the right was another story. Even though I walked it with him, he didn’t “get it”. I moved the “jump” to the corresponding placement to the north side of the arena and he had no problem with it. In the first position he was travelling towards the mirror. I’m wondering if that had anything to do with his reluctance.
Perhaps another factor was the longe line. At first I attached it to his halter. Both of us were a bit surprised at this. After a few circles with Zelador, I took the longe line off and both of us felt better.
This reminds me of a sale DVD I saw recently. Several horses were on it and all of them were on the longeline. I didn’t like it! The horses couldn’t express themselves and play. They were always supposed to be UNDER CONTROL. I’m so glad that my guys can work at liberty. They’re happy to do what I ask and I’m happy to see them express themselves. I realized why having the longeline on Zelador didn’t feel right. I’m so used to seeing him free. I don’t want to control him. I want to suggest things to him and watch his creative mind dream up new things.
When I brought Zeloso into the arena the jump was still on the north wall. He was attached to the longeline because we’re still under vet’s orders to keep him at the walk and trot. He went happily over the pole in both directions. I didn’t need to change the location of the pole.
Time to head to the barn and fetch the boys!