We play with several balls. The ridged ball is picked up in the horse’s mouth. The soccer ball is hit with the foot. The BIG ball is pushed with the nose. The orange ball with a handle is for picking up. So, just to confuse things I asked Kye to touch the ridged ball with his foot. He figured that out pretty fast.
How did he do it? The first “rule” of liberty training is: get the horse’s attention!
I did this by kicking the ball myself, trotting after it and kicking it again. Kye thought this was a great game and joined in. Every time he touched the ball with his foot, I clicked the clicker and gave him a treat.
Then I picked up the ball and held it near his nose and said, “Touch it with your nose.” Touch. Click. Treat. No problem.
Now for the tricky part, I placed the ridged ball on the ground and said, “Touch it with your nose.” Kye offered his foot several times, then touched it with his nose. Click. Treat.
We played this new game for a few minutes. Sometimes I’d ask him to use his foot, other times I asked him to touch it with his nose. He did a great job. I was so proud of him I asked Bill to come to the arena later in the day and take photos. Well, I learned that Kye is a “morning” horse. Since Bill was using a still camera (not a movie camera) I thought it’d be best if I stood still. However, standing still didn’t get Kye’s attention. Hmmm…I finally realized that I had to kick the ball and chase after it in order to get Kye into the game. This kept Bill on the move, but it was worth it. Kye had fun. I had fun and Bill got some nice photos.
This morning I reviewed “foot”/“nose” with Kye. He loved it. Then I introduced a new game: find the tambourine. I picked up a toy that has the same noise makers as the tambourine that we have hanging on the wall. I shook it, then said, “Shake the tambourine.” Kye walked to the wall and played with the maracas. After a minute or so he walked to the tambourine and shook it. Click. Treat. We played this game three times and he repeated the maraca bit, then went to the tambourine. On the fourth request he went directly to the tambourine.
After playing with Kye I brought Zeloso to the arena. Lindsey commented that the horses looked tired. She and I decided that last night’s HUGE wind storm probably kept them awake. When I entered the barn this morning the floor was wet from the entrance (both doors had been open) to the middle of the barn (at least 26 feet). The barn runs west/east and the large doors are at the west end. I heard on the radio that powerlines were snapped off in Brampton. We had many small limbs on the ground and one large limb came off a willow.
Zeloso enjoyed the foot/nose game. He quickly demonstrated that he could differentiate between the two. He also liked the tambourine game. As usual he added a Zeloso flourish. After playing the tambourine that was hanging on the wall he did a 180 spin with a teensy lift of his front legs. This lift increased his speed on the spin.
Zelador was my third pupil this morning. When it came time to play the tambourine he over-did it and swung the thing around. I was thinking he’d bang himself in the head. You see, the tambourine is attached to binder’s twine that is tied to a support beam. And, this morning I added two other tambourines to the original one just so there’d be NOISE when the instruments bumped into the kickboard. I decided to help Zelador learn how to lightly lift the twine away from the building, then let go. He was pleased that the sound was BIG. We practiced “gentle” a few more times… he seems to be understanding what I’m after.
At one point in the “nose/foot” game I was asking for the nose and he was giving the foot. I stood quietly, waiting for the foot. Zelador wanted me to “click/treat”. He got very creative in his foot/ball movements. I’ve read that animals will work really hard to get a click/treat, and here was Zelador demonstrating it. I softly repeated, “nose” and after about thirty seconds of brilliant foot work he touched the ball with his nose. Click/JACKPOT (big treats!!!). He was pleased!