Saturday Bill and I rode the boys. He remarked several times that Zelador and Zeloso (born in 2004) had matured beautifully this past year. I mentioned that Christi McQuaker commented Friday that when horses became six years old, things improved!

When Etienne was here for a few months in 2008 he showed us a DVD of his older horse (probably eleven at that time). The grey was gorgeous, travelling in a perfect frame and doing every dressage movement fluidly. I asked him if Zelador who persisted in attempting to stick his head in the air and hollow his back would EVER improve. Etienne said his horse was just like Zelador until he was six.

So, we’ve hit that milestone and we’ve survived the challenging years that led to it!

Back to Saturday. I placed a few toys on the arena floor and suggested that Bill ask Zeloso to pick each one up. Well, my “star pupil” decided it was high time he flipped these stuffed things. Zelador looked on in amazement. I asked him to pick up a toy and he was perfect. Zeloso continued teasing Bill.

At one point when Bill was reaching forward to take the toy from Zeloso’s mouth, his baseball cap fell to the ground. So did the toy. I rode Zelador to the cap. He politely picked it up. I returned it to Bill. Zelador also picked up the toy. I returned that to Zeloso. A few minutes later Bill was near the teeter-totter. His dressage whip was lying on it and Zeloso was nosing the thing, but not picking it up. I rode Zelador to the object well aware of the fact that he just might hit himself with the thing which, in turn, could put his retrieving back a few steps! But, no problem. He picked it up and was able to get it into my hand without hitting himself too many times. I got to thinking…he showed great eagerness in retrieving the hat and the awkward whip. Perhaps he’d figured out the real purpose of this new game: retrieve dropped things.

Ciara came into the arena as we were dismounting. We mounted again and the boys strutted their stuff. She was impressed!

Ciara opened the arena door and we headed down the driveway. We saw Ron putting Pax in his paddock. I called out. “Hey, Ron! Watch this! Bill, drop your hat on the ground and ask Zeloso to pick it up.” Bill cooperated, Zeloso nosed the cap.

I called out again. “Hey, Ron. Toss your baseball cap on the ground!” He did. It landed about fifteen feet from him. I rode Zelador to the cap. He picked it up. When I said, “Hand”, he walked to Ron and flipped the cap to him.