Wedneday Marcus got to be “Marcus”. I didn’t play with him. Thursday he walked all over the blue tarp, eating treats. He walked off it (moving forward, not backing up) twice.

Wednesday the five on the hill had a short session. They did some big smiles, touched the cone and rang the bells. Thursday I brought in the carpet. It’s their second experience rolling it out. I did it in each horse’s stall. This is a first for Lulu and Teddy because they actually had a halter and lead line on a few days ago and pushed the carpet on the floor. In the stall there are ups and downs…

Everyone acted like they’d rolled out the carpet for YEARS! Daniel Nummer (a horse trainer in Michigan who also teaches tricks) talks about “Gap time”. The horses had 48 hours since the previous roll out the carpet episode and they all put the gap time to good use. Tilley was the STAR!!!! She pushed the rolled-up carpet with her nose and it rolled out more than twelve inches! Every other horse is nosing the carpet an inch at a time.

I’m so pleased with the gang on the hill!

Thursday Christi McQuaker rode with me. She’s been in Europe, so we had some catching up to do. She loved the stories about Lauren Bode (Animal Communicator) working with every horse on our farm. Of course I forgot tons of things, but there’s a chance I’ll remember some of them on our next ride. I did remember that Zeloso wants a costume, doesn’t want any more horses in our family and wants to know what he’s the very BEST at! Zelador wanted clarification on the “knees” in the passage. He also mentioned that he loved having that “thing” used on his back. He’s referring to the cold/light therapy machine. I used it over a year ago…once! I’ll have to do it again. I asked Lauren if he understood what I wanted when he was at liberty, changing direction at the canter and doing flying changes. She said, “Oh Yes. He’s showing me change after change.”

Meanwhile, back at our session Thursday… The really neat thing is: Christi watched Zelador piaffe/passage/piaffe/etc. in-hand. Zelador had his bridle on because we’d been riding. I’ve been doing this stuff at liberty and occasionally with a halter on him. Boy! That bridle gives a lot of new ways to help the horse! Essentially I dropped the reins as I walked beside him. The mere presence of the bit brought out an incredible piaffe. Christi commented that seeing the two movements in sequence again and again is beautiful. I said that going from the passage to the piaffe really activates the piaffe. Too many people drill and drill, using more whip, more leg, more spur in trying to crank out the piaffe when all they need to do is let the horse bounce forward.

Christi got on Zelador and I walked worked him in-hand through one round of piaffe/passage/piaffe. Then I gave her the reins and she cued him using only her back. She arched it for the piaffe and released it for the passage, arching again for the piaffe. Zelador was brilliant! (So was Christi!)

Then I showed her how Zeloso is coming along. He’s about six months behind Zelador because I didn’t do very much of this with him since we started this work in May 2010. He’s at the stage where he understands the rhythm, but doesn’t quite get the “bounce”. He doesn’t realize the piaffe is a trot. So, one day soon when I’m really energetic I’ll take him in-hand and trot. We’ll trot big, small, medium, small, big…until we can finally get one or two bouncy steps on the spot. Then he’ll get a HUGE reward!!!! More often than not, Zeloso does get a hint of a bounce after reining back.

I showed Christi the badminton. Zelador was very happy to be the centre of attention. BUT when I went to Zeloso to play, Zelador left his pedestal and tried to take the racket out of Zeloso’s mouth! Part of the “problem” was: I decided to have stud muffins for treats when a horse produced one good piaffe step. Zelador REALLY wanted those stud muffins!!!!!