The adventure begins! Someone mentioned after the October 6th fundraiser that it’d be really neat to see both Zelador and Zeloso sitting on bean bags. Talk about a winter project!!!! I quickly contacted Sue Parker and told her of this new conundrum: how to help Zeloso figure out sitting!
We started this past week with both boys in the arena. Sue took Zeloso to his pedestal and stayed with him, holding onto the leadline. I took Zelador to the bean bag and he calmly sat there and received great praise and treats. None of this was lost on Zeloso.
We asked Zelador to stand on his pedestal and brought Zeloso with his lead line to the bean bag. Because Zeloso has pulled a cart I knew he’d be very content with things behind his rump. When I introduced Zelador to the bean bag we hadn’t driven yet and I spent a few sessions placing the bean bag all around him, under him, behind him while he stood quietly (probably muttering to himself, “Winnie, I’m fine with the bean bag, but if you want to play with it, that’s OK.”).
I gave Sue the clicker and some treats and I took Zeloso. We both had a long wand to help create a chute for Zeloso to back into. Zeloso is my “back up horse”. He loves to walk backwards! His other favourite activity is going up on his hind legs. When he’s way up there he’s the tallest horse on the farm and he loves being BIG!
My back up horse decided backing up was boring and standing still was “cool”. I must admit, standing still is much better than leaving the scene. Sue and I helped Zeloso back up, stand quietly, move off when asked and enjoy a calming mesmerizing circle. After a few tries at standing with the hind legs touching the bean bag, Zelador left his pedestal requesting that he be allowed to show Zeloso, again, what the goal of the exercise was. We put Zeloso back on his pedestal and Zelador sat.
We took a few moments to let Zeloso play at liberty. He always astounds us with his creative moves…sideways leaps, helicopter jumps…
We regrouped and focused on the bean bag. Zeloso had put this short gap time to excellent use. He was able to lean his hind legs into the bean bag!
I announced the session was done and that I’d take the bean bag to the barn so I could do numerous short practice sessions in Zeloso’s stall (it’s two stalls made into one and offers plenty of room for me to play with him).
I’ve had about three sessions in the stall and Zeloso clearly understands that I’m very happy when he leans into the bean bag with his back legs. Next step (a huge leap of faith) is for him to settle his rump onto the “chair”. When Sue comes here this week we’ll puzzle over figuring out just what we can do to help Zeloso. Perhaps we need to set the bean bag on a bale of hay…or on a bag of shavings. Most certainly I’ll contact Allen Pogue (www.imagineahorse.com). When we talked this past winter Allen had twenty-four horses on his ranch that sit!
Meanwhile, Zelador has been having fun (so have I). He’s getting better and better at walking slowly through the five feed tubs, placing front and back feet in them as he walks forward. I’ve changed my position relative to his. I’m now standing in front of him just beyond the final feed tub. He quite likes my being there. He approaches the game more slowly and is more accurate. Part of the inspiration for my change of location is from a quote from Albert Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”!!!! To me this quote has a bit more PUNCH than, “When you want the horse to change what it’s doing you need to change what you are doing”.
I found another quote from Einstein that sums up my approach to the horses and the games we play (on the ground and in the saddle), “I never teach my pup8ls. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”