Last winter I thought about creating an act that has a pas de deux with me riding one of the Zs and the other one at liberty. Two weeks ago Bill and I actually tried it, hoping we could whip it into shape for the fund-raiser in October. We practiced with me on Zelador and Zeloso free. Zelador was very proud and Zeloso almost paid attention to me. Then Bill got on Zeloso and Zelador was free. Well, that was entertaining! Zelador decided this was an opportune time to “get back at” Zeloso for all that bossing around he does in the paddock. Zelador snuck behind Bill and pestered Zeloso’s rump. He paid absolutely NO attention to Bill’s efforts to get the two horses walking side by side.
We ended the session and discussed the possibilities. In my opinion the “good” horse is Zelador. He tries to do what I want. Zeloso, the class clown, delights in pretending to do things, then leaving. Logic dictates that I ride the clown and direct the good horse. But, in spite of this plan the next three times I tried the pas de deux I rode Zelador.
We start with each horse on a pedestal. Zelador steps off and we walk over to Zeloso. I give him a treat and tell him he’s wonderful. I motion for Zeloso to step off and walk with us. Each time Zeloso chose to walk counter-clockwise along the arena wall. I was happy with that. I put Zelador on the inside and was somewhat able to keep Zeloso near us. My goal was to start both horses in the Spanish Walk as we headed back to the pedestals. Every once in a while, it happened. The main problem was I needed to get a bit in front of Zeloso to slow down his walk and cue the high leg lift. He obviously knew my plan and put his walk into over-drive. Try as I might I couldn’t maneuver Zelador in front of his brother.
Generally speaking when we approached the low pedestals Zeloso happily stepped up on one. With this accomplished I rode Zelador to the other one. That’s the finish of our act.
Each time we practiced things went just a bit differently. “Unpredictable” clearly described our pattern. The last time Zeloso took off at the canter and ignored me. Hardly “show-worthy”.
Today I rode Zeloso and let Zelador roam free. Initially Zelador was a bit miffed. He wanted to be the special horse under saddle. My challenge was to make him feel VERY special because he was at liberty. Things went soooo much better with the class clown “under control”. (Of course there was that one time when Zelador thought he could get even with Zeloso for all those nips in the paddock!)
As we were walking along the wall Zelador put his front feet on the tall pedestal. I think he was trying to be the BIGGEST! I did the Spanish Walk with Zeloso around the pedestal. When Zelador stepped off he was very eager to show that he, too, has a spectacular Spanish Walk. Boys!
For our second run-through Zelador would not leave his starting position on the low pedestal. Hmmm….I walked around him a few times. I stopped and stroked his neck. I gave him a treat. Finally he stepped off! This time when we passed the tall pedestal he hopped up and stood there on all four feet. Zeloso walked around it doing the Spanish Walk. (Ah, a predictable routine seems to be taking shape.)
I directed the two towards the finish pedestals. Zeloso sprung up on his and Zelador walked to the piano. I rounded up Zelador and we tried the finish again. This time Zelador went to see Ann Clifford who was trying to take photos and not become “interesting”.
Somehow I got both horses on pedestals and ended the session. An hour later I took them, one by one, to the arena to play the piano and the instruments. As we were walking near a pedestal I said, “Zelador, are you ready? Hup!” He stepped up on the pedestal and received a treat. That’s when it occurred to me that this was an excellent opportunity to school “getting up on a pedestal” (something we’ve been doing for five years!!!!!) I also realized that it’d be helpful if I could teach Zelador to step on a pedestal when I was quite a few feet away from it. Zelador had no problem doing this. I increased the distance. No problem. My final request was asked when I was over 12 feet from Zelador and 15 feet from the pedestal. Terrific! With any luck Zelador will happily accept this trick even when I’m riding his brother.