OK, just how smart are these horses!
Today I brought Zeloso into the arena and the two of us set up four large pylons on the centre line, each about 7 metres apart. Under saddle we used them to create a slalom course, enjoyed pushing the ball between them and stepped up on the pedestal every once in a while.
Second horse, Zelador. We entered the arena and he was fascinated by the bright orange pylons. People say horses donâ€™t see colours, but Iâ€™m certain the orange of a carrot is easily picked out amongst all the other items in their vision.
When I stepped into the saddle Zelador let me know that his main goal in life was to push a pylon over. I was doing pretty good at keeping him going where I wanted him to go, but he out-foxed me when he was pushing the ball. The little sweetie got the ball next to a pylon and WHOOSH!, PLOP! Down it went.
â€œZelador! You knocked it over, you pick it up! Iâ€™m not getting out of this saddle to straighten out your mess!â€
I dropped the reins to the buckle and waited. His nose went to the ground, his front leg moved here and there, and the tip of the pylon rose ten inches from the arena floor. Plop! Down it went, again. Zelador lowered his head, shifted his weight to the left and placed his right front foot on the pylonâ€™s broad base. The next thing I knew the pylon was upright, not lined up perfectly with the other three, but pretty close to perfect.
â€œOK Zelador. Good job.â€ And I directed him away from this entertaining new toy before he undid what heâ€™d done. As we walked around the arena I wondered. How did that horse figure out what I wanted and accomplish the task? Allen Pogue is going to enjoy this story!