The first fundraiser show is a few days away. Snow covers the ground…again…but Sunday’s weather forecast is SUNNY!
In and around all of the practicing for the show I’ve been having fun playing with the holey feed tubs. I have three in the arena and two in the lower barn. Every few days I bring them out and help the horses put a hoof “in the middle”. Ron hadn’t seen this exercise so I took him to Zelador’s stall. All of the horses had just come in from the paddocks and were happily eating hay. Zelador was able to drag himself away from his snack (I did offer a carrot). Ron was suitably impressed with Zelador’s ability to pick up the leg I mentioned and place it “in the middle”. Next horse…we went to Zeloso’s stall. Diverting him from his hay was a bit more challenging…. however, Zeloso was able to put each of his four hooves into a tub when asked. In fact, he added his own flourish (something he manages to do with every game we play). He placed both front feet in the feed tub.
Next horse: Pax. I couldn’t remember if I’d shown Pax the tubs. It was interesting to see Pax’s approach to the new game. He’s a Canadian and although he is capable of raising his legs (bending his joints) it’s not his favourite movement. When I asked him to pick up a hoof, he did, about an inch off the ground. Hmmm….that height won’t clear the edge of the feed tub! A few tries later Pax figured out the new game. It was amazing to see this big-boned horse lift a hind leg WAY up and carefully search with his hoof for the tub. What a horse.
A few days later Blue’s owner, Allen, saw the new game for the first time. I went the usual route: Zelador, Zeloso, Pax, then the first time ever with Blue. Blue’s approach to life is: run like the wind if anything new appears. And, if you don’t have the room to RUN, then zig. Approaching his stall (it’s two stalls made into one BIG stall) I held the tub where he could see it. Blue’s flight response didn’t kick in, instead his curiosity came to the surface. He does associate me with delivering his food and I did have a feed tub (albeit a strange looking one) in my hand. He allowed me to place it on the ground and watched as I explained and demonstrated putting a foot/hoof “in the middle”. Allen was impressed as Blue maintained his composure and interest. Although Blue wasn’t able on this first session to place a hoof in the tub he did allow me to pick up a hoof and set it down in the middle.
Yesterday I was in the arena and set up the three tubs. The snow and freezing rain outside was quickly forgotten when Zelador quietly placed a hoof in each of the three tubs and stood there, waiting for the appropriate praise and treat…which he received!!!! Talk about an over-achiever! I have never asked him to place more than one foot in the middle and here he was taking the game to a new level.