We raised over $1200 for the Toronto Cat Rescue this past weekend. The weather was PERFECT.

Here are some of the interesting moments!

-During the liberty work with Zelador, Bill had Zeloso in the arena, waiting for his turn. Zeloso was very polite and attentive. At one point I asked Zelador to bow. He did a lovely one. Then I asked for a kneel which sometimes can be a laydown. Zelador bowed three or four more times, outdoing himself! A few acts later Zeloso had his turn to do a few moments of liberty. I turned my back to fetch the carrots and cones and he went to the middle of the arena and did a lay down. He topped it off with a splendid, luxurious roll. Yes, he was paying attention to his brother and me!

-The Square Dance with Morley Batt calling the movements was great fun. It was very interesting to see how the horses progressed from the first practice to the performance. Initially our “swing your partners” was a small circle with the two horses sort of nose to tail. Sunday the horses actually were nose to tail and turning on the spot. Bill and I were holding hands just like “real” folk dancers. For the promenade (riding side by side) we’d never attempted to hold hands, but on Saturday during the dress rehearsal I got the feeling that we could pull that off, too. So on Sunday Bill and I held hands for the promenade. No problem!

-At the conclusion of the show Morley invited everyone in the audience to come out onto the arena floor and dance. It was amazing. Sunday there were seventy people whooping and hollering out there.

-Bill, Ron Marino and Allen Kalpin performed “Men Doing Dressage”. It’s a show stopper. They started by walking out into the arena with pitchforks. Their job? Clean up the place! Well, Allen stopped at the muck bucket, looked in and found a cowboy hat. He put it onto his head and his pitchfork morphed into an imaginary Quarter Horse. Instantly some wild western music blared over the loud speakers. Allen’s horse took off. It did sliding stops and fantastic spins. Ron and Bill were flummoxed. They went to the muck bucket, picked up three top hats and tossed away Allen’s cowboy hat. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, “Spring”, came over the speakers. The three men performed an intricate Grand Prix dressage pattern with our MC, Kenneth Hodges, commentating on their brilliance.

-Daniela Santarossa created a booklet highlighting each of the horses in the show. She also filmed and was our “backup cat”. An explanation is needed here! Amanda and Alex (Lindsey Hunt’s young daughters) taught two of the barn cats how to walk over an obstacle course and play a small piano. Their technique was clicker training. Well, about thirty minutes before the show the girls couldn’t find the cats. Daniela fetched the cat costume from the house and was prepared to step in. The good news is: the girls found the cats and they were able to perform in front of seventy people. The other good news is (according to Daniela) that she didn’t need to do the obstacle course!

-The horses and people presented the Winsong Farm orchestra. Daniela was on the floor piano. Kye with Christi McQuaker was at the horse version of the floor piano. Dart with Brenda played the tambourines. Bucephalus with Christiane played the small piano. Pax with Ron worked the maracas. Zeloso and Bill had the individual bells. Zelador played the sleigh bells with me protecting them! Molly Dyon and Allen played guitar. Kieley McQuaker on the small keyboard. Sophie Kalpin was on the violin. Pierre Bouchard drummed. Picasso with Ann Clifford worked the drum peddle. The song? It was Do-Re-Mi. What a hoot! As the horses were exiting the arena the humans played the song again. It was beautiful!

-Pierre Bouchard has been coming to Winsong Farm for several months to work with Kye, Z and Z. The routine we’ve developed has Pierre setting a rhythm on the drums and the horses echoing it. Kye was the first horse to demonstrate that when he heard a trot beat, he would trot. We did this with the walk, trot and canter. Sometimes, the horses were not “in tune”. Most times they were. We also echoed individual sounds. For this the horse faces Pierre. Occasionally Pierre starts, other times the horse does. For example: Kye will touch a pedestal with his hoof, the Pierre will respond with the same number of beats. All the horses love this game.

-While rehearsing Zeloso’s liberty I learned that if I give him a mental job (pick up a toy, step up on a pedestal, etc.) he can follow that with a very controlled Spanish Walk. BUT if I try for a Spanish Walk during his walk/trot/canter he is too excited and leaps away. During the show I asked him to do the carrot/cone game. As Zeloso was approaching the fifth and final cone I noticed Ron picking up the first ones. I told him he could relax, Zeloso would pick them up. I mentioned in an earlier blog introducing the word “hand” to Z and Z. We have only done the “hand” thing once. Zeloso had not forgotten. He picked up cone five. I said, “Hand.” He placed the cone in my hand. I gave him a treat. We walked to each cone and he was an expert at picking up the cones. Of course I quickly ran out of hands. The solution was for me to hold the cones (stacked on top of each other) in my left hand and supply a treat with my right. Zeloso caught onto this new nuance and placed each cone on top of the previous one.

I told him he was brilliant and we moved to his Spanish Walk. Each leg lift was huge. I said, “Up” and he raised a front leg. After about five “ups” he stood on his hind legs, held the rear for a second, then came down softly, stood quietly, obviously VERY proud of himself!  WOW!!!!!

-Kieley McQuaker helped me with Kye’s performance. She played “Mary had a little lamb” on her keyboard, then we walked around with our Quarter Horse/Appaloosa “lamb” following us at liberty.

-Airosa demonstrated that she understands to roll the big ball to Amanda when Lindsey asks her to and, when it’s Alex’s turn to play to roll the ball to her. No problem knowing which girl is which.

-We started the show with Bucephalus and a quick demonstration on Clicker Training. We passed out clickers to the audience and each person practiced clicking precisely when Bucephalus stepped one hoof onto a pedestal. The first time we tried this I heard clicks for several seconds. The third time there was ONE big CLICK!

-There’s more, but right now the vizsla puppies are calling!