Yesterday at 10:00 Bill and I were at Michele Mele’s figuring out the logistics for a miniature horse’s appearance in a House Concert Saturday April 21. Michele lives about six minutes north of us. She hosts House Concerts throughout the year. The musicians are amazing with many of them world renown. In February Michele and I got to talking about music and horses and within minutes we’d scheduled an intermission visit with the miniature, Noel, playing our horse piano. We set up a brainstorming meeting for Friday April 13 at Michele’s.

The first order of business was to determine where Noel would enter the house and perform on the three-note piano. Noel is good at going up a few steps, but not going down them. She prefers to leap through the air and trust gravity. With that in mind we decided on Noel entering at the glass door facing west. There’s one tiny step! This door is at the beginning of the area where a REALLY long table is. During intermission this table holds sweets, treats, wine, etc. for the House Concert audience.

We have quite a few padded mats for Noel to stand and walk on. They help her little hooves which tend to slip on tile and wood floors. We’ll put all the mats on the floor right at the door. Noel will be on a lead line. We’ll put her “Build a Bear” shoes on just before we enter the house. At precisely 3:00 Saturday Noel will be standing on the patio outside that door, ready to come into the house. Michele’s husband asked, “How long is Noel here.” I replied, “She’ll be in and out in three minutes.” (or thereabouts)

With that being established we worked on where to unload Noel and reload her. We have a “minis only” pedestal which we place on the ground at the rear of our minivan. Noel steps on it, then does a tiny leap into the rear of the van. We did this many times without a problem until the snow came. Noel scared herself during the winter when entering the rear of the minivan. She didn’t get hurt, but she worried about her wet hooves slipping on the bumper at the rear of the van. We’ve solved that problem for loading when at our house and when we’re at Noel’s home. At Winsong Farm we back up the van to the front steps and Noel walks on. At her home we back up the van to the manure pile and she walks on. We looked around Michele’s place hoping to find a raised area. We did, but it was near the house and we figure even if Michele puts pylons out asking people not to park there we’ll still have problems getting the van into position. Onward to plan B. (Just didn’t have a plan B at that moment.) Michele said, “How about two strong men lifting her into the van.” Hmmm….I instantly envisioned four fast-moving mini hooves and said, “We’ll figure something else out.”

One thought was to use the metal ramps we have in the driveshed. These are for working under the lawn mower and other vehicles. Another thought was retrain Noel!!!!!

Most likely we’ll park way down the driveway near the road and lead her to the house. That walk will give her an opportunity to relax into the House Concert.

We left Michele’s and travelled less than ten minutes to Noel’s. We played around with the ramp idea and decided to use our “minis only” pedestal as a ramp. We put it in position, then added a bag of shavings near the rear of the van and put the ramp on it. We pondered that setup, then we spotted a 4”x4”x5’ long piece of wood lying near the barn. We took that and placed it under the other end of the ramp. Now things looked good. The ramp’s slope wasn’t threatening and the whole “thing” was stable. I fetched Noel from her stall. As we exited her barn she turned to the wheelbarrow that contained many empty feed tubs. She was incredibly keen to lick each tub. I redirected her to the minivan. Noel watched Bill enter via the ramp. We introduced Noel to the ramp and she was interested. She ate a few treats and put a foot on the ramp. I went to the wheelbarrow and picked up an empty feed tub. I placed that in the van and she walked in. WOW!!!!

Initially we’d thought the morning would include fetching Noel and taking her to Michele’s, but yesterday Alex scheduled a lesson for me and Zelador at noon. I needed to get home by 11:45 to tack up Zelador. If Noel had problems loading then the time frame was too tight for Noel’s trip to Michele’s. Michele said, “You can bring Noel here any day next week.”

With Noel in the van we looked at the time. It was before 11:00. With any luck we could take her to Michele’s, unload her, walk around a bit, reload, take her home AND get to Winsong Farm in time for the lesson.

Things were going along tickety-boo. At Michele’s Noel popped out of the minivan, we lead her around. Michele and one of her daughters came out to see the cutie. Then back to the minivan to reload. That’s when things ground to a time-consuming halt. Noel was NOT interested in any treats. Luring her to the ramp with food was not happening. I looked at Bill and said, “The idea of two strong men is looking better by the moment.” I took Noel for a relaxing walk in a circle and there was no interest in the ramp. That’s when I thought of the feed tub. Bill passed it to me. I put some treats in it. I showed it to Noel and the little sweetie followed the feet tub into the van. (Mental note to self: REMEMBER the feed tub April 21!!!!)