The weather forecast for this weekend is WARM! We’re looking at no precipitation and temperatures around 5 Celsius. Time to break out the paints and brushes and give the horses an opportunity to express themselves on canvas. I learned a few winters ago that cold weather and paint do not go well together.

The last time Zelador painted he’d taken his brush-work to a new level. With the brush laden with paint he would make one lovely sweep over the canvas, then fling the brush across his stall. He quite enjoyed watching me fetch the shavings-covered brush. It’ll be interesting (challenging?) to see what he has planned for me this weekend.

Another warm-weather activity we’ll all enjoy is blowing bubbles. The horses and I tried bubble blowing in cold temperatures. It didn’t produce bubbles.

Last week I got out the BIG chalk and wrote words in each of the six stalls in the lower barn. The words are: water, door, hay, window. At least once a day I play the word game with each horse. Initially I went to a word which was placed beside the object it described. I spelled the word and spoke it. When the horse came and touched the object (e.g. door) click/treat. Zelador loves the game. Bill tried to throw the horse a curve when he said, “Zelador, touch your other door.” Zelador has two doors in his stall because his stall is two stalls made into one (Blue, Zeloso and Pax have the same two-stall arrangement). Only one of Zelador’s doors has “door” written on it. Well, the horse did not hesitate when Bill mentioned the “other door”. Zelador walked to it and touched it with his nose. Click/ and BIG treat!

During this game I realized something. Zelador is not a talkative horse. However, over the last ten years I’ve noticed that occasionally he makes a soft, rumbling nicker. Turns out this sound is uttered when I’ve asked him to do something “intellectual” and he’s able to do it. The coin dropped for me when I was standing quite far from Zelador’s window and I asked him to touch the window. He walked several feet to the window, murmured and touched it.

Zelador, Zeloso, Kye, Spring Song and Blue all got into this word game from day one, but not Pax. He preferred to stand at his hay net and eat. He knew I had the clicker and treats and he hoped I’d give up on asking him to move his feet to one of the words. I held my ground and cheerfully said and spelled a word. FINALLY he shuffled over. On day three of the game I noticed a HUGE difference in Pax. He’d figured out the game. I always start at the east end of the barn with Z and Z, then work my way down to Pax, the final horse on the west end. That third day I could hear Pax murmuring…repeatedly. Unlike Zelador, Pax is a talker. We all enjoy his comments. On this third word session Pax was murmuring for many minutes as I went from horse to horse. When I finally got to his stall he performed the game brilliantly. No hanging around near his hay net. He happily came to each word and received great praise and a treat.

Pax’s owner, Ron, and I have learned over the years that Pax learns at his own rate. What we need to do is quietly present something to him and let him figure it out.

Looking forward to the warm weather and what the horses will be offering!