Yesterday Zelador and Zeloso were free in the arena with Ciara McKnight and me directing them. At first we did things separately (Zeloso on one platform, Zelador pushing the big ball). Later we each took turns sending both of them around one of us while the other provided a “barrier” part-way down the arena, thus creating a smaller work area. When we were done with this we took them back to the platforms. I led Zelador to the ball and he began pushing it. As he passed the bunny/frog/penguin box he stopped and picked up the bunny. And, you guessed it, he carried it while he pushed the ball.
When the horses are trotting or cantering around me and I call them in, it’s quite beautiful to see these lovely, powerful creatures freely decide to stop what they’re obviously having fun doing and come in to me. At one point Ciara joined me. I led Zelador away to do some tricks and Ciara led Zeloso. Neither horse had a halter on and both horses chose to separate. This was a BIG thing! Zeloso was able to stop paying attention to me and instantly listen to Ciara. Often it’s difficult to change “leaders”.
While the boys were circling around me, one of them changed direction. I had two horses circling me, one was cantering clockwise, the other was cantering counter-clockwise. I encouraged them to do a few circles. They had no problem sorting out who was on the inner circle. There was no confusion as they passed each other. I called them in and they came.
Soon I’ll ask them to travel side-by-side. Allen Pogue (www.imagineahorse.com) does this with his horses and makes sure that the outer horse is a bit in front of the inner horse. Allen wants the outer horse to see him and not hide behind the inside horse. We do have break-away short lead lines to attach to each horse (wearing a halter) to help them travel together. Another method is for a person or two people to travel with them. They did this once or twice about a year and a half ago.
Today Lindsey Hunt and I worked with her Andalusian mare, Airosa. We’ve been showing her the toys for a week. With each outing she is more confident and balanced. Her favorite trick is finding the cones and eating the hidden carrots. Lindsey is an animal communicator and Airosa keeps telling her, “It’s time to do the cones!”
We took Airosa back to the paddock and brought up Zelador. Our goal was to get a photo of him holding the bunny and pushing the ball. He did a great job and Bill got the shot!
Our next horse was Zeloso. I turned him loose in the arena, then sat down to see what he’d do. He found the cones (neatly stacked on each other), but there were no carrots. He meandered around and nonchalantly approached the big ball. I’d told Lindsey about Zeloso attacking the ball so both of us watched closely as this big grey horse lowered his head. To my amazement he PUSHED the ball. It rolled at least fifteen feet. He followed it… calmly, and gave it another big push. He followed it. The third time he placed the side of his head against the side of the ball. In the past this has been followed by a pounce! But today he gave it a huge push. Just as he was walking after it, I called him to me. He stopped pursuing the ball and came to me. I never would have thought that this exuberant horse would be able to calmly work with the ball. I figured I’d always have to be right beside him so that I could step in and save the ball. Zeloso obviously thought that it was time for me to realize that he could behave properly with no one at his side.
Lindsey was on a bit of a tight schedule and had to leave. I knew she’d never seen Zeloso work on the rotating top pedestal and I persuaded her to wait. Zeloso decided to take this moment to play and NOT come when I called. Lindsey remained patient and Zeloso took pity on me. He came to the round pedestal and halted. In the past he’s always had a halter and lead line on so that I could guide him onto the small surface. This time he was totally free. He placed one hoof on the top, then raised himself up. But, things were a bit off balance. The pedestal tilted and he lightly lifted his body off the top and placed his feet softly on the floor. We tried again. This time he placed his left hoof perfectly, just to the right of centre. Then he raised his right leg and placed the hoof beside the other one. Someday I’m going to get a photo of this. I’ll take it at the height of the pedestal, looking up at this huge horse. Now, THAT will be SOMETHING!