Here’s my latest project with Zelador and Zeloso: Since last Friday I’ve taken Z and Z to the arena (always need a helper to get them to and fro) and worked with them at liberty for ten minutes (no more than ten minutes!!!!).

The goal is to have them on their pedestals and do things when I ask. Sometimes I have them do things simultaneously, sometimes one at a time. I start with them on the pedestals, ask them to leave, allow them to lie down and roll, allow them to scratch each other, then they start “working”…travelling around me, coming in, travelling around me, coming in, then going to their pedestals.

The first day was a challenge. Zelador stood politely on his pedestal while Zeloso flew around the arena totally ignoring my requests to come stand on his pedestal. When Zeloso finally did he received praise and treats.

The second day (Saturday) Zeloso was a bit better at coming to his pedestal.

I asked Zeloso to leave his pedestal, travel around Zelador, then return to his pedestal. This was very entertaining… Zeloso really wanted to nudge Zelador off his pedestal. Zeloso put his nose on Zelador’s rump. Zelador stood like a trooper. Zeloso opened his mouth and rubbed his teeth on Zelador’s rump. Zelador swished his tail, but stood still. Then Zeloso opened his mouth, put his teeth on Zelador’s rump and pushed against him. Zelador left the pedestal.

Sunday Zeloso didn’t bug his brother when I asked him to trot a big circle around Zelador! Amazing. I asked Zeloso to stand on his pedestal while Zelador left his pedestal and travelled around Zeloso, then back to his pedestal. I was pretty sure this activity would be way too exciting for Zeloso, resulting in Zeloso leaving his pedestal and chasing after Zelador. BUT Zeloso stood his ground!!!! I practiced this circling the brother twice with each boy and they both were perfect.

Monday Zeloso was even more focused. I added some things for the boys to do simultaneously, including: both catching a towel at the same time which means I have to toss the towels simultaneously (this is really tricky for me!!!). There’s also Zelador’s latest version of catching the towel. When we sing the song “When You’re Happy and You Know It, Catch the Towel” Zelador enjoys having the towel on his head. He stands still and the towel slowly allows gravity to slide it down his face. Sometimes he opens his mouth and snags the towel with his teeth, other times he lets it drop to the floor. Surprisingly when I toss the two towels he has caught his every time! Yippee.

Both boys are turning 180 degrees on the pedestal. I haven’t figured out how to communicate turning 360 degrees. The boys also salute at the same time. Zeloso does his straight leg salute and Zelador bends his leg at the knee. I introduced having only the front feet on the pedestal while the horse rotates around it. I’ll spend some time working on this when I only have one of them in the arena. Once I’m able to stand in one spot and have each horse go totally around the pedestal with the front feet on, I’ll try this with both horses. I asked each boy to fetch a toy (Zelador goes for the froggie and Zeloso for Mickey Mouse).

Today, Tuesday, the boys were even better! We repeated all of the things we’ve been practicing. Zeloso is so good at coming to his pedestal and they both caught the towel. I introduced some new things. I had one, then the other step sideways over the poll. I’m thinking I might be able to teach them to step off the pedestals and go sideways over their own pole. I asked Zelador to roll out the carpet. He hasn’t done this for a few years and he really enjoyed it. Next time I’ll set up two carpets and see if they can do this simultaneously.

For “the finish” I’ll find a way to position myself and cue the bow on one knee.