Day one for 15-year-old Blue Executive. I prepared the carpet runner with bits of carrot placed about every 12 inches as I rolled up the carpet. I had no lead line on Blue and asked him to come to the carpet. He did. I asked him to put his head down. He didn’t. I placed a piece of carrot on the exposed end of the carpet. He still did not put his head down. I fetched a small orange cone used in the carrot/cone game. I placed it beside the piece of carrot. He put his head down, nosed the cone, found the small piece of carrot and ate it. Whew!

I gave the carpet a nudge and it unrolled a few inches. Blue walked away. I called him to me. He came. We repeated the carrot/cone enticement. He ate and left again.

This was not going very well!

Half-way down the carpet I was thankful that I was using the shorter of our two carpet runners. I also figured if I could teach this “roll out the carpet” trick to Blue then I could teach any horse anything.

We finally got to the end of the carpet. All the treats were consumed. I was exhausted and Blue walked away.

Day two with Blue: He stayed with the carpet from beginning to end! He didn’t need an orange cone to direct his attention to the carrot pieces. However, he did not nudge the carpet with his nose. I was the carpet unroller.

When the carpet was lying flat on the arena floor I placed small pieces of carrot along its length. I called Blue to me, positioning him at the starting end. I was curious. Would he actually walk on the carpet as he ate the pieces? He did!!!!

Day Three with Blue and the carpet: He put his nose down and didn’t raise it from beginning to end. He ate every morsel. As each piece was revealed (because I unrolled an inch or two of the carpet) I tucked it under the roll leaving just a teeny bit of carrot visible. Blue was very brave. He put his nose against the rolled up carpet and ate the carrot. As a result, the carpet moved a quarter of an inch. (Ah, Ha!!!! Tomorrow I will create long thin carrot pieces and hopefully he will unroll the carpet all by himself as he takes the exposed carrot end. Can’t wait!)

Day One of Rolling Out the Carpet with Marcus, the Dutch Warmblood Yearling: I prepared the carpet and placed it on the centre line in the arena. I also prepared four orange cones for the carrot/cone game. We play this game every morning when he enters the arena.

I brought him into the arena, removed his lead line, turned to close the arena door and Marcus looked around for that first cone. He spotted the carpet. The youngster bucked, he hopped, he reared, he jumped, never taking his eyes off the CREATURE on the centerline. I was able to distract him for a second and he found the first carrot near the cone. He did a few more spins, rears, leaps just to let the carpet know that he was mightily aware of it. I was able to get his attention focused on cone number two. He found that carrot. Somehow we managed to finish the carrot/cone game with only three more “carpet bursts”.

I figured it’d be a good idea to snap on his lead line, then introduce him to the carpet.

He was very polite and somehow got all of the treats as I discretely rolled out the carpet.

Day Two with Marcus: The October 30 fundraiser is fast approaching. Marcus will appear in his first show!!!! We’re not sure what he’ll be doing, so we’re showing him lots of different things to find out what he enjoys.

After day one with the carpet I was thinking that this youngster just might have a BIG reaction to all things new. I was very interested in what day two would bring.

Ciara will be handling him in the show because I’ll have several acts with the boys. She watched me and Marcus a few weeks ago, but had not seen the carpet. I told her about day one while she was in his stall putting on his halter. I went to the arena and prepared the carpet (placing it on the centerline) and the four cones.

Ciara brought him into the arena and turned him loose. He did go to the carpet, but only to sniff it. No leaping, bucking, rearing. She called him to the cone. He stayed with the carpet. We both called him and he came. He was sort of able to play the carrot/cone game, but not to his usual standard (eating methodically and picking up a cone or two on the return trip). We decided that tomorrow the carpet will be out of sight until we’re ready to play that game. This will help Marcus focus.

When it came to “carpet time” Ciara attached the lead line. Marcus was a perfect gentleman and allowed “ladies first” (he assigned Ciara the job of pushing the carpet). He ate the carrots.

We brought out the big ball (lead line still on) and he practiced tracking the rolling ball and touching it. When he understands “push” the ball that skill will carry over to rolling out the carpet.

I had not removed the carpet from the centerline. Marcus kept a wary eye on it.

On to the large orange jolly ball. Ciara rolled it away from them, he walked to it, he picked it up and occasionally he carried it a few steps.

Ciara and I are looking forward to tomorrow’s session. I’m pretty sure Marcus is, too.