Mike and Kelly arrived last Wednesday just before noon to ship Zelador to a nearby farm to practice sitting on his bean bag in a totally new location. This exercise was set in motion last week when Sue and Rick got an inquiry for a commercial. The client wanted a horse that can “sit.”
Zelador came to mind!
Sue said, “Start practicing having him sit in different locations on your farm.”
Later she emailed, “How long does he sit?”
I responded, “With or without a halter on?”
Sue: “For now, have the halter on.”
Me: “If this commercial shoot is on grass they’ll need a super fast camera!”
Sue: “I’ll tell Rick, ‘no grass.’”
I’m guessing that ‘no grass’ just might eliminate us from the commercial. No problem! The ‘sit him in different locations’ agenda continues.
I started hauling the bean bag around the farm. Zelador sat in his stall. He sat in the round pen. He sat on the grass…WITH a halter AND I had delicious treats to divert his grass-loving brain.
At the performance we did for the Art Society of King Tuesday evening he sat on his beanbag for five minutes while we talked about the horses and our approach to educating them. Zelador waited patiently for me to ask him to leave the bean bag. He was totally content sitting there, thus answering the ‘how long will he sit’ query.
Back to shipping Zelador to a new place… Several years ago Mike came here to practice shipping Zelador and Zeloso separately. We’ve always shipped them together and I knew we’d have to practice shipping with different horses and shipping alone. Kye was chosen to ride with each boy. Mike commented that there was some dancing going on while he hauled Kye and Zeloso. He figured the Lusitano was moving, but no, it was the veteran shipper, KYE. During the short trip with Kye and Zelador the same dancing happened, performed by the same horse. Both Lusitanos took that new shipping arrangement in stride.
Now for the biggie: would Zelador be able to handle shipping alone.
I chose a nearby farm because currently there are no horses in residence. We would have the place to ourselves. I figured the fewer distractions on this sitting outing, the better.
Zelador walked on the trailer like a pro. He didn’t call to Zeloso, but he did move around a bit in his big box stall on the trailer.
Zelador was polite when the trailer halted at the new location, got off quietly and I led him to the barn. I already had the bean bag in a stall. He instantly sat when I asked. Mike and Kelly were amazed. I informed them that Allen Pogue has 24 horses that sit on bean bags.
I asked him to sit again and he messed around. Although there are no horses at the farm the barn we were in is probably 100 metres from a neighboring farm that does have horses and many dogs moving about during the day. It was clear that Zelador was wishing he could focus on the farm to our south instead of listening to me.
I picked up the beanbag and placed it in another corner of the stall and he sat. The bean bag was against the wall and that stall wall did move a bit with his weight! I learned that he can now be directed to sit precisely when I ask him. He’s come to the point where he’s no longer figuring this sitting thing out. He understands and can listen and perform. Two very interesting things happened during his second sit in the new corner. He repeatedly used his hind feet to step on the bean bag before sitting. I think he’s using these hooves to figure out where the bean bag is. As a result when he sat he was quite upright. His front legs were quivering just a wee bit and he picked up one front hoof and moved it forward. Then he picked up the other one and moved it forward. He was now better balanced and the quivering stopped. He sat comfortably until I asked him to step forward. Up to this point he’d never adjusted his front feet so obviously. Because there are no horses living in the barn, the stall floors are clean. The stalls have paddock mats with the wall to wall cover. Previously he’s sat in the arena with sand under foot, in the stall with shavings or on the grass. I think he figured out that he could actually sit AND move his front hooves because of the smooth stall floor.
I took him outside, thinking “we’re done” and Mike said, “Let’s have him sit out here.” We learned another tidbit. Mike held Zelador while Kelly and I placed the beanbag against the building…on the grass!!!!! When I positioned Zelador to back up to the bag Mike pointed out that when the horse lowered his hind end he couldn’t lower it all the way to the bean bag because there was no room to lower his rump. The building was in the way. We needed to move the beanbag about a ten inches from the wall because there’s no give in the wall which is the outside of the building. In the arena, in his stall at home and in the stall he’d just sat in there was give in the supporting wall. At home when I asked him to sit outside in our roundish pen attached to the lower barn the base of the round pen slopes downward from the building to the earth, creating a bit of a gap between the wall and bean bag. At home I’d also asked him to sit on the bean bag when I placed it in the open with nothing supporting it. That’s when I could see a very slight rocking of his body because he was continuously searching for his balance.
Zelador sat outside several times with breaks in between to eat grass. Mike commented that eating the grass helped Zelador relax. Had to laugh at that one: “relax”! Zelador was scarfing down the grass at a terrific rate. I don’t know if he chewed it! He ate more grass during out outing today than he’s consumed in the past several weeks!
Zelador never called during the trip to and from the new farm. He didn’t call when we were there. He loaded onto the trailer for the trip home with no hesitation.
He unloaded and I put him in his stall. However, back at home Zeloso called several times to see how his brother was doing.
And, Mike, Kelly and Maddy went to check Maddy’s horse. The rig was blocking the main entrance to the lower barn. I led each boy out the small back door to their paddock!!!! They walked out that door like they’d done it a thousand times. This in only the second time for each of them!
For me, that calm walk out the small back door was the icing on the cake. I’m very proud of the boys!