Because the Beautiful Jim Key could pick up something in a container with water in it we started that “trick” yesterday. The Beautiful Jim Key picked up a silver dollar. In 1900ish the silver dollar was bigger than the ones we see today. However, it was still small and easily swallowed!
We decided on a hockey puck, what with living in Canada. We showed it to Zelador and he mouthed it. We placed it in the container (no water at this point) and Zelador proceeded to treat it like the “EASY” button and rake his top teeth over it. He removed the once lovely Canadian flag emblem.
After a moment or two he picked up the puck. It wasn’t easy.
We added water and he tipped the container over, spilling the water over the pedestal.
Horses ARE quick.
We moved on to having him pick up a cloth boomerang. He liked that. Placing it in the container and having him fetch it was not a problem, until we added water. You see, the boomerang floated. When Zelador opened his mouth to pick it up he learned that any pressure on the boomerang sent it UNDER the water. Bummer!
We helped Zelador by holding the object and by lifting one end up out of the liquid.
We decided to try the ringed toy. He was very happy to fetch it from the water-filled container. He flipped it happily and sprayed water on Bill and me.
On to our second new trick: playing soccer. We envisioned him pushing the ball with a front hoof. He immediately used his nose. We decided to re-think the trick and came to the conclusion that Zelador’s approach was much safer for him and the humans. With a push from the hoof he just might miss and “turn” his ankle on top of the ball, hurting himself. With a nose push he is very accurate at directing the ball.
Ann, Bill and I played with him. More often than not he could push the ball to the person we designated. We set up a small goal made out of two of the white bloks. Bill and I passed the ball back and forth on the way to the goal. Zelador stepped in and scored!
We also practiced having Zelador fetch a specific object and take it to a specific person. For example: “Zelador, Ann needs the hammer. Please take it to her.” The toy hammer and toy wrench were on the arena floor. He picked up the wrench and brought it to me. I said, “That’s the wrench. Ann needs the hammer.” He gave me the wrench, fetched the hammer and took it to Ann. She praised him and gave him a treat. I called out, “Zelador, take the hammer to Bill.” He stopped paying attention to Ann, swung his head towards Bill and carried the hammer to him.
We took him back to the barn and brought Zeloso to the arena.
We showed Zeloso the container and the puck. He hadn’t seen the boomerang so I presented it to him and he held it. I tossed it and he fetched it. We placed the boomerang in the container. He fetched it. We added water and he also was surprised that it moved downwards when he tried to pick it up. The toy was placed in the container and Zeloso enjoyed picking it up. However, we were getting wetter and wetter with each consecutive fetch. That’s when we thought, “Let’s put the small cone in the container.” This worked well.
Next sport: soccer. Zeloso has always been our “front leg horse”. He loves the Spanish Walk. LOVES it. We were not surprised when he approached the ball and used his front leg to touch it. He has played the game where I ask him to touch something with his “nose” or his “foot”. So, with the clicker at the ready I said, “Use your nose” and every time he got his nose any where near the ball he heard the “click” and got a treat. After a few minutes he was consistently putting his nose down BEFORE bringing his foot into the act. Occasionally he only used his nose. Where Zelador had pushed the ball many feet forward with his nose, Zeloso pushed it a few inches. We ended the session with Zeloso after a BIG nose push of ten inches.
How the boys reacted when they experienced “overload” was interesting. When Zelador found the water trick challenging he walked a few feet away and prepared to lie down. I’m thinking he was thinking that “They ALWAYS love it when I lie down!!!” Zeloso’s answer to a mind-boggling challenge was to walk away…and continue walking. However, when I called him, he turned around and came back. If I hadn’t called he probably would have walked to the other end of the arena, turned to face us and stood for a while…thinking.