Bill attached the new system for ringing the bells on an arena support beam. There are three eye-bolts that the knotted rope passes through. I gave the part of the rope that extends into the arena a pull and nothing happened. I figured the horses wouldn’t get a sound either, but Bill was certain they would.
First “victim”, Zeloso. The class clown took the rope in his teeth and the bells rang out. We were thrilled. Bill led him on a quiet walk in a small circle and brought him back to the bells. He asked Zeloso to take the rope in his teeth. Zeloso decided that this was the strangest request he’d ever heard. He stood there. Mouth shut. After three more attempts to get Zeloso to “take it” we placed it in his mouth. He moved his head and the bells rang. We gave him a treat and decided to end that particular training session. (Figured we were being trained by Zeloso…)
Second up to bat, Zelador. I stood beside the bells, picked up the rope, said, “Take it.” He took it in his mouth, moved his head an inch and the bells rang. I said, “Out”, he let go and I gave him a treat. I decided to not lead him on a walk. I asked him to take the rope and ring the bells. He did. We repeated this. The bells rang out. Zelador acted like he’d been doing this all his life.
Third horse, Pax. He’s learning to “take it” when I have him standing on the pedestal and I present the stiff brim of the hat. In the last two days he’s actually taken it in his mouth and held it… swinging his head! He’s now learning to hold onto the hat until I say “out”. The key to success is me being able to judge that split second BEFORE he lets go of the hat. So far the score is “five for Winnie and two for Pax”. Both of us are headed in the right direction.
At the bells I have the treat in hand (not in my pocket) to be ready to instantly exchange the rope for the treat. Pax is quite happy to pick up the rope. I made the mistake of not noticing where the rope was in relation to the knot and the eye-bolt closest to the arena. Pax held the rope and no sound occurred. My instant reaction was: Bill’s gizmo doesn’t work. My second thought was: look closely at things! That’s when I noticed that the rope was pulled as far as possible into the arena. The bells could not ring. I moved the rope, asked Pax to “take it”, he did and the bells rang! Whew! (Who would have thought something so simple could be so tricky!)
Fourth horse, Robin. I brought her to the rope and jingled the bells. She was concerned and curious. I praised her for staying with me and rang the bells again. She noticed the sound, looked in the direction of the bells which were hidden behind the kickboards and I said, “Good” and gave her a treat. I repeated this ringing/good/treat sequence four more times. She was very happy to be near the treat-producing bells!
Fifth horse, cautious/suspicious Kye. Bill worked with him. Kye was not interested in standing anywhere near where the bells are. Bill got him within a few feet of the rope, praised Kye and moved on to something else. Too bad he didn’t try the Pavlov routine. I’ll do that tomorrow.