Here are some tidbits.

1. Focus

On the weekends the two Lusitanos are worked together. Bill has Zeloso and I’m with Zelador. Two weekends ago, just for fun, I said, “While you’re longeing and working Zeloso in-hand I’m going to see if I can do liberty work with Zelador and keep him with me, not dancing off to play with his younger brother.”

Bill worked with Zeloso at the east end of the arena where the bridge and pedestals are and I took Zelador to the west end. This is where we always work at liberty. I figured for our first attempt with such a distraction it would help Zelador to be in a familiar area.

I removed his halter and we walked together to the west end. I had tiny horse treats in my pocket and distributed them judiciously. Much to my surprise, Zelador had no problem focusing on me. He was able to walk/trot/canter/make a small circle/change direction/halt/walk sideways/back up and do a few steps of the Spanish Walk without even glancing in his brother’s direction.

Whew! Who would have thought!!!

I gained courage from his focus and called to Bill, “Let’s change ends of the arena. You longe and I’ll play with the apparatus.” I knew that passing his brother could be dicey so Bill and I made certain there were at least ten metres between us as we switched positions.

Zeloso started longeing in a large circle, moving into the trot. This was a fine opportunity (with all that activity going on) for Zelador to lose focus and leave me to join his brother. But, he stayed with me and played with the toys.

So, this Sunday after four successful outings I thought, “How about adding Kye and Blue (Sophie’s horse) and creating a four ring circus?” One handler/horse duo can free longe, a second can work in-hand, a third use the pedestals and the fourth play with the bunny box and the large horse ball. We can rotate and give each duo two to three minutes at each station. If we can find music we all like and play it in the background FROM the first practice, then the horses will hear the music and know what’s up. Then we can beg a few friends to come and see what we’re doing!

Ah…sounds like a great way to add motivation to these short, cold winter days!

2. Anything you can do I can do better!!!

During one of our weekend sessions we decided to take turns working on the rotating top pedestal. It is buried a few inches into the earth at the corner of the arena and Bill placed a bolt in the underworkings of it so that the top won’t move. We’ll remove the bolt when the boys understand to stand with both feet on the top and can move the hind legs laterally a few steps.

Bill went first with Zeloso. Zelador and I stood five metres away on the low platform. Bill asked Zeloso to place a foot on the top. When he did, Zeloso was congratulated. Bill led him from the pedestal and to the platform while I free walked with Zelador (no halter on his head) to the rotating top pedestal.

Allen Pogue ( is a great believer in having other horses watch while you’re training a horse. He says it facilitates the training because the horses learn by imitation.

Zelador did a fine job at the rotater, we left and Zeloso had his turn.

Zeloso was the first one to place both feet on the top and stand his weight on the pedestal. Bill made a big fuss over this brilliant move and I chipped in my delight from the platform. None of this was lost on Zelador. When his turn came he, too, stood up and waited for his praise.

Zeloso introduced a creative element during his next turn. He placed his right front hoof on the left side of the pedestal (the surface is circular) and lifted his left hoof over the right one (crossing his legs) and placed the left hoof on the pedestal. There he stood with crossed legs. Twinkle-toes waited for the adoring crowd to acknowledge this superior interpretation of the task at hand.

Good ole, Zeloso!

I’m very pleased to report that Zelador missed this nuance and stood in the traditional way during his next turn.

We finished with Zeloso and went back to our respective work. I asked Zelador to step off the platform (which he did) and walk with me to the far end of the arena. He did walk, but the steps were hesitant and his ears were voicing his annoyance. You see, he’d been keeping track of the practices on the pedestal and he was certain that his brother got one more turn than he did. Talk about being annoyed! And, when I thought about it, Zelador was right. We’d started and ended with Zeloso. Next time I’d pay closer attention to which horse did what when.

3. Showing off.

Our hay man, Jim, arrived to deliver 180 bales. I’d prepared myself (mentally and physically) to help and was thrilled to see two young lads in the truck. I was taken off hay duty. It was a P.D. day!!!

As I congratulated Jim on his excellent planning (scheduling perfect weather and lining up workers) I ended by saying, “Have you seen a horse bow?”

The answer, “No.” All three were interested in watching Zelador. I said, “When you’re done with the hay, we’ll take him up to the arena and show you his tricks.”

An amazingly short time later (yes, three males stacking hay makes the job go quickly) we walked to the arena. The first trick was ‘The Big Smile’, then up on the platform, across the bridge and onto the tall pedestal. Zelador looked impressive up there, an additional eighteen inches above us. The four of us told him how wonderful he was and Zelador agreed totally.

I asked him to step down. We walked a few steps, turned and headed for the far end of the arena to free longe. Much to my surprise Zelador popped up on the tall pedestal. There he stood waiting for more praise. Yep, he’s getting into this ‘showing off’ thing. Nothing like a crowd (no matter how small) of adoring fans.