The salute is coming along nicely. Zelador has created a salute with the elevated front leg bent at the knee. He looks like a statue. Zeloso hovers his front leg extended. He hasn’t quite figured out that I’d like the leg to be still.
When Rick and Sue Parker visited here last April they mentioned that we could try to get further and further from the horses when we give a cue. Both boys are able to create the salute from about fifteen feet of me. I’ll work on getting some of the other liberty work from a distance.
Kye decided to scare us to death (starting last Saturday). His tongue swelled up, then it was under control, then he wouldn’t use his left hind, edema under his belly, temperature of 103.5, racing heart, huge murmur. The vet came, and came again and came again. You name it, he had it. Currently his temperature is 101.2, he’s eating like a pig and demanding attention. However, when he required “watching” we hovered in the barn teaching Zelador and Zeloso “body parts” while keeping an eye on Kye.
Both boys figured out that when I hold my forefinger in the air and say, “Touch my finger with your nose” that they are to lightly brush their noses against my finger. After that success I moved on to “ear”. This is a bit more challenging. The horses prefer that I do not raise my hand past their eyes to the ear. However, if their heads are low I’m allowed to stroke the ear. This is an eyesight issue (and a height issue. I’m too short!). My goal is to say “ear”, put my hand out (about five and a half feet above the ground) and have the horse move to me and place his ear in my hand.
For a few minutes I attempted to teach Zelador “tongue”. You could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to figure out what I was asking. I decided to drop that body part from their repertoire because seeing a tongue sticking out of a horse’s mouth isn’t all that attractive!
With the snowstorm yesterday Bill stayed home and Ron took the day off. We all converged on the barns and started playing with the horses. Ron’s been developing Pax’s Spanish Walk from the ground. With three humans available we put one holding the leadline, the second person on the far side of the horse (near the front) and the third person near the rear to help with forward movement. Pax was a star. He understands to lift his front leg and he understands that he’s to walk. The challenge is to have him walk slowly enough so that he has time to lift the front leg. Pax was able to get almost ten steps in a row!
He started with one step which was rewarded (click/treat). Ron led him in a circle, then back to the work area. We kept repeating this pattern: work, click/treat, calming/mesmerizing walk circle, back to the work spot. To help Pax Ron used body language and pressure from the leadline. When Ron wanted the right front to lift Ron would lean to the left (he was on the left side of Pax) and raise Pax’s head to the left. This put weight on Pax’s left front, releasing some weight from the right front, thus encouraging him to lift the right front leg. He’d reverse his cues for raising the left front. Pax figured these cues very quickly.
At one point Pax and Ron were stuck at the “three leg lifts in a row”. I said, “I’ll call out each successful lift and we’re continuing until we get twenty.” (Of course we weren’t going to get twenty, but the thought of continuing to lift would most likely get us past the “three” barricade.)
My count went something like this: one, two! (Pax didn’t lift on “three”.) One, two, three! (Pax didn’t lift on “four”.) One, two. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four, five. One, two. One, two, three, four, five, six. One, two. (You get the picture.)
Pax is ready for Ron to get in the saddle and start right back at the beginning of his Spanish Walk training…lifting one leg!