Sunday was our first practice from beginning to end of the Fundraiser program. In the morning I took each of the boys to the arena and went through bits and pieces of their acts. Zeloso was first. He was such a joy to work with. Months and months ago I introduced him to the tissue game. I sneeze. He leaves his pedestal, picks up the handkerchief from the tissue box and brings it to me. He performed it like we’d been practicing every day for a week. As I led him back to his stall I was praising him. This wasn’t lost on Zelador. Now it was Zelador’s turn. As I took him to the arena I was deep in thought. Zeloso was a dream to work with. This was a bit surprising to me because for years his attention span was short and he loved leaving me to race around the arena, throwing in leaps and spins.
Zelador and I did a few things then I took him to the far end of the arena for his lie down. He did this happily. As he was getting back onto his feet he stopped at the sit position. He stayed there and looked at me. Hmmm… I haven’t asked for a sit for at least six months. Zelador knows this is a very special movement and that he’s the only one who can do it. While these thoughts were going through my mind he remained in the sit. I praised him and gave him a jackpot of treats! He still sat. More praise. A few more treats. Still sitting. I signaled for him to stand. He did. Amazing. He was sitting for a very long time and very content and proud.
What an incredible gift Zelador offered.
As we were walking back to the barn I told him how wonderful he was, still awed by his sit.
Our afternoon Fundraiser practice started at 2:00. Zelador’s liberty work is one of the last acts. Just prior to it he and Zeloso help us with “When You’re Happy and You Know It”. The third verse today was “Catch the Towel”. We’ve been doing this particular movement for over a year. Both boys are great at catching the towel, swinging it, then letting us take it so that we can throw it again. Today for the first time Zelador tossed the towel back to me. I was at least six feet away and his toss was more accurate than most of the ones I throw at him. Even though I had no idea he was going to do this he threw it so that I could not possibly miss it. His aim was perfect, right at head height. Talk about me being stunned. Zelador received tons of praise!!!!
During Zelador’s liberty act we went to the far end of the arena for the lie down. He did this beautifully and, you guessed it, he paused and sat on his way up. He sat calmly until I asked him to stand. And, another thing snuck in my mind. The sit and towel toss were not the only things Zelador had choreographed into the Fundraiser. During the first carousel practice he introduced the Spanish Walk. During the second Carousel practice he allowed Zeloso to demonstrate the Spanish Walk and Zelador piaffed. That boy’s always thinking.