Zeloso was very interesting today. We played a bit, then I started cleaning up the arena, putting things away that had been used in the fundraiser. Of course he helped. At one point I spotted the tissue box and decided to play that game with him. I set it on a pedestal and walked beyond it. I sneezed. He quickly went to the tissue box and brought it to me. I took out the cotton handkerchief (yellow for visibility) we’d stuffed in it and pretended to use it on my nose. He was very close, watching, so I stroked his nose with the handkerchief. This is the second time I’ve done the tissue trick with him. He acted the same way the first time. He didn’t need me to call his name. He instantly reacted to my sneezing. Several people suggested that Zelador’s been telling him about this trick.

Here’s another instance where the two just might have been discussing things. To this point Zelador is the only horse with a reliable lay down from a cue. Zelador is immensely proud of this achievement and if horses do talk about such things I believe he’d be bragging and bragging and BRAGGING about it to Zeloso! Here’s the story: I’ve never really worked on Zeloso’s lay down. Once when Ann Clifford was watching we added a bag of shavings to a soft area in the arena, but many minutes later Zeloso convinced us that he wouldn’t lie down. Today I went to the far end of the arena and bent my head down and kept it down. I did stroke the ground with my wand once or twice, but after that I remained still. When he walked a bit I kept my head down. In less than a minute he laid down and raised his head for treats! He got plenty and tons of praise.

A few days before the fundraiser I brought out the rotating top pedestal and asked him to place a hoof on it. He did. There was no monkeying around. He placed it near the centre and was able to rise up onto the pedestal without the thing wiggling. Zeloso didn’t understand moving his hind legs to one side, creating the rotation. But he did understand staying up there. After he got down I took him to a lower pedestal and tried to help him shift his hind legs to one side He had his front legs on the pedestal and his hind legs on the arena floor. He didn’t quite understand, but he thought about his legs.

Today I brought out the rotating top pedestal for his second adventure. Once again he positioned his hoof wisely and rose up. I asked him to step to the side and he shifted his weight. He received a treat and lots of praise.

I got some vibes from him today. Something to do with more intricate manoeuvres when he and Zelador are at liberty together. I’ll work on that! It’d be neat to have them side by side going sideways, or backing up.

Earlier this summer Ron brought a basketball headboard and hoop to the farm. It’s been in the driveshed. For some strange reason I was finally able to motivate him and Bill to mount it on one of the support beams in the arena. They did this Saturday, the day before the fundraiser…guess they thought they had nothing better to do! Of course those two (and Allen Kalpin) had not practiced their Men Doing Dressage skit for the show…yet.

We gave Z and Z two separate outings to the arena to play with the hoop. At first I set out the ridged ball for them to put through the hoop, but then realized I needed to establish putting ANYTHING through it. I put about six toys out on the floor and waited to see what would be brought. Both liked the new handkerchief and were successful at lifting it to the hoop’s rim. Zeloso was our first basketball player and the height of the hoop caused him to raise his head. We realized that he’s the tallest horse and if he couldn’t get the object through the hoop easily, no one could! We lowered it four inches and he promptly beaned himself on the noggin when he put his head on the ground, then lifted it bumping into the rim of the hoop. So, I’m going to create a “basket” that the horses won’t chew or destroy…should be a challenge for me! I think having something hanging down that they’ll touch when they raise their heads will help keep them from banging into the hoop. Bill and Ron did add an old rubber hose to the metal and covered it with bright yellow tape. Now the hoop is highly visible, but I think more padding is needed. I’m also going to place a pedestal under it so that the horse will be really above it. Once the horse figures out to place some object into the hoop and its “basket” I can remove the pedestal.

This winter I hope to teach soccer. The final game will feature one horse and one person. Each will be along an arena wall, parallel to each other. They’ll pass it back and forth. The person will use a foot and the horse will use his nose. We’ll start closer together and gradually get to the walls. I’ll need another person with me initially. One person  will be with the horse to keep him in a straight line parallel to the arena wall, the other person will be opposite the horse This game of soccer has been stored in my brain for almost a decade. Now I think we’re ready to learn how to play.