Today (day two with Hops) I packed the blue bucket with the three indestructible cones and added two new items: the canvass bag with cans in it and the ridged ball.
Sunday is Ciara’s day off so I figured I’d find the pony in her stall and work with her there. But, due to my neighbor’s riding injuries Ciara was helping out. I found her in the barn and learned that Hops’ schedule was changed. She was in the paddock with Sneakers. We decided to work with Hops in the large paddock instead of removing her (leaving Sneakers ALONE) and working her in the round pen.
As we approached the paddock which was resplendent with hay and luscious green grass I remembered the words of Daniel Nummer, “Trick training on grass is a whole other thing.” And, of course, there’s Allen Pogue’s preference…he likes to work in a small area. Obviously today’s trick training would be fraught with challenges.
Ciara had Hops’ halter and lead line. She fetched a longeline from the arena to help direct Sneakers away from our training. When I realized she had Hops’ halter I said that we didn’t need to use it. It was O.K. with me to have the pony free. If Hops wanted to leave, that was fine. I figured her desire for attention and carrots just might keep her near me. Also, her inherent curiosity was definitely on my side.
We reached the paddock gate and Ciara commented, “Actually, I should have brought Sneaker’s halter.” I asked if she wanted me to go get it and she said she’d use the lead line to create a rope halter for him.
Sneakers and Hops happily came to the gate to greet us. Ciara led Sneakers ten meters to the west while I set out the carrot/cone game. Hops recognized the carrot hiding cones and scooped up the treats. As she and I walked together to pick up the three cones I told her I thought she’d missed the tidbit under the second cone…nope, she got it!
I asked Ciara if the pony had ever seen a soccer sized ball. “No.” I picked up the ridged ball and rolled it a few meters past Hops’ nose. We both walked to it. Hops “nosed” it, I said “Good” and she received a treat.
We repeated this a few times, then I fetched the bag with cans in it. I let the bag drop to the ground. It made some noise. Hops was alert and curious. She came to the bag, nosed it, pushed it and I said, “Good!”
I tossed it a few more times and her curiosity took her to it.
We finished with a final game with the carrots/cones.
Our next session will be Monday at 5:30. The horses will be in the barn and we’ll work in the round pen. For this outing I’ll bring the big ball. None of the horses at that farm have seen a big ball. I didn’t want to carry or roll it past them while they were in their paddocks JUST IN CASE it startled them. On Monday that concern won’t be an issue. It’ll be very interesting to see what Hops thinks of this three plus feet in diameter green ball!