I told Bill about teaching the boys “hand”. We were both doing liberty work with Z and Z. I demonstrated with Zelador. A few minutes later her announced (pretty much like HE had thought up this technique) that Zeloso REALLY “got” it.

A day or two later I taught Kye to hand me an object he’d picked up and to hold onto it until I said “out”. I was surprised at how quickly he got the idea. It was clear that he loved this new game and wanted to play it again and again. In fact, as we were walking past some toys he went over and picked one up, brought it to me and waited patiently for me to take it from him.

Last week I decided to see if the boys were ready to hand an object on the arena floor to me when I was riding. That particular morning I started with Zeloso. I’d placed a few soft toys on the floor before the ride and he was very interested in them as we passed them again and again. He was wearing his Bitless bridle and I had the noseband quite loose so that he could open his mouth and pick up an object.

The BIG moment! I rode him to the red and yellow rings and said, “Pick up your toy.” He did. I said, “Hand.” And he placed it in my hand, holding it there until I said, “Out” followed by receiving a treat (a three inch long piece of a carrot). I dismounted, told him he was WONDERFUL, gave him a jackpot of treats and led him back to the barn.

Zelador’s turn.

He, too, noticed the toys on the arena floor while we were riding. The BIG moment. I rode him to the soft rings and asked him to pick up the toy. He did. I said, “Hand” and he flipped it through the air. I quietly rode him to the landing spot. I calmly repeated, “Pick up the toy.” He did. I said, “Hand” and we repeated Zelador’s version of the game twenty times. I was figuring it’d be January before he handed the thing to me!

At one point he stood over the toy and would not lower his head to the ground. Hmmm….

People have suggested that it takes a great deal of patience to teach things to horses. I’ve invariably pooh-poohed the idea. I was rethinking this.

As I sat there and he stood there I had plenty of time to analyze what this genius was thinking. I came up with Zelador determined to change the game we were playing to something he wanted to play. He’s done this in the past and often I’ve come around to his way of thinking. Obviously he remembered this and knew that over time he’d WIN. Well, it wasn’t going to happen today.

The twenty-first time I calmly rode him to the toy and asked him to pick it up and hand it to me, he did. He waited patiently for me to get a good hold on it and he let go to receive his treat. I tossed the toy two more times and he picked it up and handed it to me. That’s when I got off, told him he was a wonderful horse and led him back to the barn.

The next day I repeated the exercise. Both boys immediately played the game my way. Whew!

Yesterday Christi came to ride. I told her the saga. She had a bit of trouble hearing some of the details…she was laughing. At the end of our ride we played the “pick up and hand it to me” game. She loved it!

As I sat there on Zelador I decided to see if he could place the toy in my other hand. Up till now he’d turned his head to the left and I’d taken the toy. I mentally prepared for a twenty-one repeat performance and was really pleased that the first time I asked him to turn his head to the right and place it in my hand, he did!