Fun and Games with Winnie

Working with Overhead Distractions

Yesterday was a REALLY noisy day in the arena. I decided it would

By: Fun and Games with Winnie |

Yesterday was a REALLY noisy day in the arena. I decided it would be a GREAT time to do liberty work. Darryl Rice was replacing the plastic on each side of the middle of the arena roof. There were many different LOUD noises occurring overhead without warning. There was the drill, the hammer and something else. Occassionally the overhead racket would subside and you’d hear Darryl climbing down the ladder, then going up to the top of the roof again. Spring Song is “aware” of sounds so the roof work offered a terrific desensitizing opportunity.

As I was leading the filly into the arena Dominique mentioned that there will probably be flags at the competition in Oklahoma. I went up to the loft and retrieved thirty metres of bunting (large triangles on a line, the triangles were a variety of colours). I hung them on the south wall of the arena. The windows are open above where I hung the bunting, causing the triangles to flutter occasionally.

We set up a jump on the north side of the arena for free jumping and Spring Song jumped it in both directions, preferring her left lead, circling left. We then moved the jump to the south side where she had open windows and bunting. This is day three for Spring in the arena with the windows open. She had so many other things to adjust to, she didn’t worry about the windows at all.

After the liberty play she had her first bath. Into the outdoor wash stall. That went well. Turning on the hose was a concern, but she weathered it. Dominique gave Spring a brief shower on her legs and along her sides. Spring was taken away from the washstall and allowed to move around Dominique (who had the hose) when she wanted to. Spring was on a lead line. I said “Good” at appropriate times and gave her tiny pieces of carrot. She was able to eat the treat, so I know she wasn’t overly concerned about this “take a bath” thing.

The day’s training was a huge success. The filly handled one challenge after another and did a great job free jumping!

Zelador:
Zelador was in the arena with the noise overhead earlier in the day. No problem. He was able to be beside me while I “worked” the big jump rope. We “jumped” through it at a walk. When I needed him to slow down and stay with me I said, “Whoa” and he slowed down and stayed with me!!!! Amazing.

I started to teach him to bow (front feet on the pedestal) so that we can get a group of horses/dogs together for some semblance of a really adorable video from China that I saw last week. There are four dogs sitting on the floor. In front of them at chest height is a table. The woman in charge asked them to say grace before lunch. One of the Golden Retrievers kept sneaking a peek while the other dogs kept their heads down. With the grace finished the lady set a bowl of food in front of each dog. The dogs ate. Several of the dogs picked up its empty bowl and carried it to the lady. One of the dogs didn’t. Another dog picked up the bowl and delivered it.

We have five pieces of equipment in the arena: two low pedestals, one tall pedestal, the teeter-totter and the bridge. It would be GREAT fun to find five animals (dogs and/or horses) to perform this skit. There’s no doubt in my mind that there will be a handler with each animal. I can envision Zeloso cruising around checking every other dish.

Dominique says that Skippy can bow and eat the food. I’ll work on Zelador and Zeloso. If one of the horses doesn’t pick up its bowl I’m sure Zelador or Trooper (our two year old vizsla) or K-8 will.

I also set up three of the bloks for Zelador to slalom around. I was able to stand about five feet from him and guide him through the slalom. Once again, he was super at listening to “Whoa”. I was able to keep him at a steady gait through the slalom. This is a huge breakthrough with Zelador. When he understands a game he likes to take over and rush through it. For him to be able to wait and listen is such a delight!

I took one blok and placed it about twenty feet from the pedestal Zelador was standing on. I asked him to leave the pedestal, go around the block and return to the pedestal. No problem. I moved the blok further away. Zelador demonstrated that he understood the game. I moved it two more times with the same success. I did position myself somewhere along the line of travel from the pedestal to the blok to help Zelador.

I placed three of the tubs on the ground for our “in the middle” game. He did a good job, mainly focusing on placing a hind hoof in the middle. Obviously doing this with his front hooves was way too easy. For the first time ever I asked him to stand beside the tubs and walk over them laterally. No problem.

Both Zelador and I forgot about the racket overhead. He did so many things today that required focus, calmness, obedience and precision. We were able to do things that were too difficult for him last year (e.g. walking with me jumping rope. He used to trot ahead.) Who would have thought we could have such a great session under such difficult conditions.