Saturday, Bill and I took Kye to demonstrate liberty and trick training at a fundraiser for Heaven Can Wait held south of Beeton.
Kye had a real challenge. He was in a round pen, which was about six feet away from a small paddock (a few trees blocking the view…partially) that had two small ponies (one might have been a miniature horse). The two equines kept coming to the fence near the round pen to see what Kye was doing. That would get Kye’s attention and he’d go say, “Hi.” Then the horses would get bored and move out of sight. That left Kye wondering where they were! This was not a problem for me. If I needed Kye, I’d go to him, attach the lead line to his halter and bring him back to the demonstration.
When he wasn’t checking out the horses in the paddock, he was busy entertaining people standing at the round pen. He rolled out the carpet about five times. He retrieved and ate MANY carrots under the cones. He rang the sleigh bells. He shook the maracas. Everyone thought he was incredibly cute and kind looking and sweet. This is the same horse that told Bill that morning, “You’re not getting ME on that trailer!”
I missed the first few minutes of the not-loading. When I came upon the scene, Kye was backing up, moving well away from the trailer, taking Bill with him. I walked up to him. Gave him a treat and led him to the ramp. Treat. Then a short walk. Back to the ramp. Treat. Short walk. Back to the ramp. Treat. I went up into the trailer and came back down to let him know it was safe. He put a foot on the ramp. Treat. Short Walk. Two more cycles of “foot/treat/short walk” and he walked on by himself. All very calm, no backward steps, just quiet. I approached the loading with no expectations, lots of treats, little walks (probably ten total steps in a circle) to help him relax and I thought kind thoughts. He chose to walk on the trailer.
On another note: this past week, I learned about a little mare named Reckless. She helped carry ammunition on the battlefields during the Korean War. She lived out her life in Camp Pendleton with orders that she should never again carry anything! I sent the story to lots of people. One of them is Marie-Lynn Hammond (a songwriter and singer). She was so taken with Reckless that she’s writing a song about her.
Still another note: We’re playing around with things to present at our October 30th fundraiser for LongRun. Bill and I are trying out some things with the boys. Zeloso does a gorgeous, dynamic Spanish Walk at liberty. He’ll be circling around me at the trot and I’ll “cluck” in the Spanish Walk rhythm. He goes into the Spanish Walk with that cue. It’s really neat.
I’m hoping to get a nice piaffe out of Zelador at liberty while Bill is guiding Zeloso (no halter, just directing where Zeloso goes) in the Spanish Walk. I learned today that Zelador does a lovely job when I remember to hold the long, beige whip. I’ve been using it for over a year when schooling the piaffe when he’s got a bridle or a halter on. At first I forgot to use the special whip when asking for the piaffe at liberty and I got a few attempts at piaffe steps, but nothing like what he’s capable of.
If I can get my act together it should be fun to watch both horses doing their specialty at liberty.
We’re also working on figuring out an audience participation scent discrimination game. A three-year-old girl who’s beaten cancer is going to be at the fundraiser. She saw the youtube videos of the horses and can’t wait to meet them. When this girl wakes up in the morning she puts on her riding breeches. The only thing she wanted for her birthday was riding gloves. So, we’d like her to take the treat (this will be our scented article) and she’ll place it under something. Haven’t quite figured out what the something is yet. Then the horse will check out the items and find the treat. We’re pretty sure we can’t use the orange cones because the horses understand that the cones are used in the carrot/cone game. I think the horse would pick up each cone and play with it, which is entertaining in itself, and expect a treat with each cone. We’d like to find something else that is horse-friendly and can hide a treat while allowing the smell of the treat to waft out into the horse’s nostrils.
Today I introduced a new series of notes on the three-note horse piano. I played middle C three times, then D, then E and explained to the boys that this is the beginning to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. The other song they’ve been practicing for over a week is “Three Blind Mice” (E, D, Middle C). I’ve noticed that both boys play E and D, but there’s quite a hesitation before they touch C. When I showed them “Row, Row, Row…” they had no problem starting with C and because they are used to D and E they touched each of them without hesitating.
When Zelador was having his piano lesson he was shown the new song and after three practices I played the original song for him (“Three Blind Mice”). Then it was his turn to play E, D, C. AND he was able to play the three notes without a gap between D and C. Yeah!!!!