In the first photo I have sneezed and asked Zelador if he can fetch a tissue for me. In the second photo he’s bringing the tissue to me. I heard about this trick from Colleen Archer who has ten years worth of interesting tricks/games/liberty put on her palomino, Aurum. We met each other through emails and have been exchanging ideas.
I told her about Zelador putting on an exhibition for two ladies. They both have horses and compete in the hunter/jumper world. They loved his enthusiastic jump/retrieval of the ball/jump/return ball to me. As I was removing the jump pole Zelador was cantering around me. They remarked, “He wants to jump some more.”
This got me to thinking…I wonder if I can hold a pole (or linear object) and have Zelador jump it.
So, the next day I started to teach this. Through trial and error I learned to start with a pole on the ground and me at one end of the pole. I asked Zelador to walk a circle around me. This circle included the pole. He understood this and was happy to do it. In a few more circles I had the pole in my hand. I started with a bamboo pole, but somehow he stepped on it. I retrieved the broken bamboo and tried using a longewhip as the object to jump. Well, he thought “a whip is a whip” and “any whip that low to the ground needs to be picked up and carried”. He promptly did that.
Next “pole” was a long stick (at least six feet long) that we use in our Working Equitation games. I held it low, close to the ground and he jumped it (without scaring me to death!).
The next new trick I turned to is the obeisance. The horse has does a big stretch with his front feet extended and his nose usually on the front legs. I’ve also heard the trick referred to as the Circus Bow.
This is the bow that Zephy does so well.
I asked Zelador to place only his front feet on a low pedestal. This was tricky for him because he’s always stepped up with all four feet. He quickly understood that I wanted only his front feet on it. The next step was for him to lower his head. I was standing on his left side which is the same side I use to cue the bow with the knee bent. However, he’s not on a pedestal for that bow.
Zelador wanted to bend the near leg. At that point I realized the task was: lower the head AND keep both front feet still. I asked for a very slight lowering and he was able to keep both feet still. Whew! We took a calming, walk and returned to the pedestal. He’d put that very short “gap” to good use. He let me know that he understood that keeping his legs straight was important.
On that happy note we went on to another new trick: catching the towel. We do this during the “When You’re Happy And You Know It” song. The words “catch a towel” are said three times in the verse. Looks like Zelador has created a new game. He misses the first and the second catch. BUT for the third catch he does a fantastic job and everyone cheers. So, I figure he’s thinking, “miss the towel once, miss the towel twice, catch it on the third throw and everyone loves me!”