Thursday I placed Zelador on the low platform and asked him to “whoa”. I left him with the intention of setting out the four cones with carrots under them in a large rectangle in the arena. I didn’t get very far. Before I could put the first cone on the ground Zelador left the platform, following me. I went to him and repositioned him on the platform. I walked away and he followed. We repeated this four times. At that point I scurried ahead of this “obedient” horse and got the cones and carrots in place. I was successful because he slowed down at each cone to move it, search for the carrot, then eat it. When I was at cone two, he was at cone one. When I was at cone three, he was walking calmly to cone two. When I was done with cone four, he was finishing cone two.
I looked at him as he finished cone two and wondered what direction he’d take. Would he go to cone three or head to cone four? He went to number three. I walked to the platform (our start and finish location) and waited to see what his next move would be. Zelador finished his carrot at cone three and walked to cone four. As he finished the final carrot I tapped the platform with my guider whip and he walked to me and stood on the platform. I told him he was the most brilliant horse in the WORLD and he agreed. We repeated this sequence two more times. I was beginning to wonder if the carrots would lose their luster, but he quite enjoyed walking from one, to two, to three, to four and home again. To say I was amazed is an understatement. He could have gone anywhere he wanted, but he chose to do the circuit.
About thirty minutes later a friend joined us in the arena. I stood with Zelador on the platform and gave him some exercises to do while my friend placed the cones and carrots in the arena. When she was done I turned Zelador in the direction of the first cone and said, “find it”. He walked his walk, travelling to the cones in numerical order and returning to the platform. I would not have been surprised if he’d sought out the newcomer, but he stayed true to the circuit.
I returned Zelador to the barn and brought Zeloso to the arena. Because I had a helper to place the cones Zeloso missed one step of the learning sequence. He did not have the opportunity to follow behind me as I positioned the cones and the carrots. When I turned him loose he went to cone one, then to cone four!!! I hooked a lead line on him and we walked the route in numerical order. We’ll repeat this for a few more days before I let him go free for this game.
I was thinking that I could make the ‘find’ game a bit clearer. Instead of creating a cone rectangle, I’ll set them out in a long curve which starts near the platform and ends where cone three used to be. That way the horses wouldn’t wonder what the sequence is. A meter from cone four I’ll position the large horse ball for Zelador. The goal will be for him to find all four cones, then push the ball to the platform. That should be interesting!
As far as Zeloso is concerned, the ball cannot be used. He’ll play with it and lose his little mind. I haven’t dreamed up something for him to do from the fourth cone to the platform. I guess I’ll just call to him and have him walk the twenty meters to finish the game.
I’m sitting here at the computer and chuckling. Two and a half years ago I met Allen Pogue (www.imagineahorse.com) and commented, “I look at all of the things you do with your horses and can’t help thinking, ‘that man has way too much time on his hands!’.”
He laughed and replied, “All my friends say that!”
I’m wondering…when did I slip into that jet stream!!!