Had a riot with Zelador Thursday evening. After we brought the horses in at 5:00ish I took Zelador to the arena to show Bill, Brenda and Ron that he can piaffe with nothing on him (no halter, no bridle), just standing along the wall near me. Well, today was the first time he did this (in the morning) and he did OK this evening.
Ron had to leave and Brenda and Bill and I got to talking. I mentioned the trick a friend in Deep River, Colleen, does with the horse bringing a tissue to her when she’s sneezing. Brenda had a box of tissues and some extra treats (I’d used mine up with the demo on the piaffe) and I tried to figure out how to present this to Zelador. Colleen says her pony, Timbit, delicately takes one tissue from the box, but her horse, Aurum, crushes the entire box when bringing it. I decided to not let him grab the tissue box. I had Bill hold the box, then moved on to setting one tissue on a blok (one of the blok by blok system used to create jumps). I decided to act out the scene and let Zelador watch. He butted in and before anyone could figure out what was happening he took the tissue and lifted it up. I had the carrot, the tissue and the clicker. Too many things in my hands to click appropriately. I handed over the clicker to Brenda. She apologized for missing the opportune moment to “click”, but did a good job overall.
Within a minute or two Zelador had the trick down pat. I’d say, “Ahhhhh, CHOOOO! Zelador I need a tissue.” He’d walk to the tissue, pick it up and bring it to me.
Brenda was astounded at how fast this came about.
Then I said, “How about teaching him to toss a toy so we can use that phrase in the song ‘When you’re happy and you know it’.”
I picked up a soft toy and gave it to him. I had him on the pedestal so he wouldn’t be moving about too much. Within a few seconds he was dropping the toy when I asked him to toss it. He was also able to flip/toss it once.
We moved on to seeing if he could catch a toy thrown to him. We were aware that his eyesight is different from ours and tried tossing it from the side. He always seemed a smidgeon off (late) in his catch. The soft stuffed toy would touch him above the nostril and slide off his head to the ground. He’d turn his nose to the side to grab it, but missed. We evolved to holding the toy at arm’s length towards him and clicking when he reached for it, thinking that later we’d toss it a few inches from that same approach. Then I thought, “He might have a better chance at catching something like a towel. There’s more surface area for him to grab.”
Both Brenda and Bill thought the towel wouldn’t work, but I tried anyway. AND he got it! Talk about getting a jackpot of treats!
We’ll review all these new things tomorrow and try to show them to Zeloso.
Brenda has a group of 24 people (people from her work and their families) coming here Sunday at 2:00 for an hour-long show. We will be singing the song and two of the verses are “When you’re happy and you know it Big Smile” and “salute”. At the May first fundraiser our third verse was “turn around” and the boys did the twirl. There were two additional horses in the arena at that time playing music. This time Brenda has four or so horses playing instruments so we won’t be having Z and Z turn around. There’s a huge possibility that Zeloso will leave Bill and canter off to these horses. That puts a little pressure on us to figure out another verse. One idea was to have Z and Z do the Spanish Walk, but that could take up a bit of space in the arena. The toss or catch would be more controlled…sort of.