We had our dress rehearsal for the Fundraiser for LongRun Thoroughbred Rescue Society last Sunday. The event is this Sunday (the day before Halloween) starting at 2:00.

And, wouldn’t you know…my computer bit the dust! Bill says it was shorting itself out. We realized the problem early Monday morning, minutes before he left for Ottawa. Grrr…

He was able to rig up another computer, but I had no access to any of my email addresses or tons of stuff on the dead computer. The good news is he backed up the computer recently.

A few interesting things happened at the dress rehearsal. One stands out in my mind. Marcus (he’s a Dutch Warmblood colt that turned one year old August 3rd) was totally free in the arena for his act. The sweetie wasn’t worried about the 25ish people seated behind the barrier. At one point I suggested that the crowd applaud. Well, that was a new sound for Marcus. He spun and took a few steps away from the noise, then returned…inquisitive. A few minutes later I suggested he step up on the pedestal. This is the same area he’d been in when the clapping startled him. You should have seen the look on his face. Obviously he wanted to do what I asked, but he was also wondering if putting a hoof on the pedestal had anything to do with the sudden applause. He approached the pedestal, stretched out a foreleg, tentatively placed it on the pedestal and LOOKED at the crowd. No noise! He stepped up and received a treat. His actions were a classic example of what horses are doing every second that they’re with us. They’re analyzing and trying to figure out cause and effect. Generally speaking we’re giving so many signals that the horse is overwhelmed. Many horses respond by shutting down. Others fight through this overload and become incredible partners.

Another interesting thing was I learned Monday that a member of CADORA (a dressage organization) was in the audience. She quizzed Ann Clifford about the Spanish Walk and the piaffe in-hand. How DID we teach it!!!!! Ann explained the numerous approaches we used. Zelador and Zeloso had both done the Spanish Walk from the far end of the arena to their pedestals. At the conclusion of Zelador’s act I’d placed him along the wall and he’d offered a few piaffe steps. Since then I’ve been positioning him in front of where the audience will be so that they can get a better view.

Yesterday Christi rode with me and at the end of the session she held a horse while I worked the other in-hand. One way that horses learn is through imitation. Well, I started the piaffe in-hand with Zelador. Zeloso was calmly standing with Christi. Then it was Zeloso’s turn. He did a great job and actually offered a few steps. Back to Zelador. Christi commented on this second try: “As he was nearing the middle of the audience he did some lovely steps. They were very good. You continued. He did a hippity-hop on his hind end, then settled into a brilliant piaffe. And I thought the earlier one was as good as he could do!”

We switched horses and this time Zeloso got even closer to the piaffe. He developed a nice bounce in his step. We were both oooing and ahhing. I took him to where we started the exercise to do it again and Christi called out, “He’s loose! Watch him!” and, there was Zelador, trotting over to Zeloso. Zelador was NOT amused!!!! We regrouped. Christi took Zelador back to his pedestal and Zeloso did an even better piaffe attempt. Previous to the Great Escape I’d decided that each boy had done enough, but it was obvious that Zelador HAD to have another turn. I took hold of his reins and before I could place myself beside him he began his piaffe. Wow! It was beautiful!!!! I rarely ask for more than a step or two that are almost on the spot. He sunk that hind end down, raised the poll and didn’t inch forward.

A third interesting thing was Zelador and his piano playing. He is quite happy to play E, D, C all by himself I told the audience that I needed their help. We were going to play, “Name that TUNE!” AND someone called out after Zelador hit the three notes: “That’s Three Blind Mice!” Correct! In the show we’ll play two tunes. I’m guessing the second will be “Row, Row, Row your Boat”. Hope someone recognizes that!