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Wizard Session 39: My Umbrella-ella-ella

January 14, 2009


Wednesday 1/15/09

Tonight, the Parelli Support Group met for their bi-monthy gathering at Handy Acres. I was there to photograph everybody’s progress. Christie brought her iPod player, and I was reminded of all the years I spent listening to the radio while I trained Alibar. Music and riding go together, especially when we’re rocking out to The Band while we walk through snake pits with green horses. The weather was COLD. We sipped hot chocolate and waddled around in our layered outfits like the characters on South Park.

Miss Tuesday aced the platform:


King tried to eat the umbrella…


And Roy did things his own way…


After the Parelli group left, my friend Christie and I took Wizard and Mary the Morgan into the arena to play with the obstacles. Mary made the platform look easy- she’s a natural with her bold attitude and nimble feet.


I applied clicker training principles to navigate the obstacles with Wizard. Wizard is not quite as brave or as handy as Mary, but I was really pleased with our session. He came into the arena and snorted loudly when he saw all the strange objects. Some horses only start snorting when they are about to blow up, but Wizard snorts as soon as something does not look right. It’s pretty cute when he does it.

He handled the Snake Pit with grace…


He walked over the tarp like a champ…


The mattress was no match for the Mighty Wizard…


He used a little fancy footwork to get his feet into the hula hoop…


And he was far more graceful on the platform this time! He is not coordinated enough to put all 4 feet on the platform yet (it’s a fairly small area) but he puts his fronts on the platform readily. He also walks off of it by putting his hind feet on it so I think he’s only a few steps away from having all 4 feet on it.


The scariest object was the umbrella. Walking up to it and touching it with his nose (clicker training) was no problem. But when I spun it on the ground by the handle, it blew his mind. He rocked back into a defensive position, practically sitting down, while he watched it, snorting all the while. He still trusted me, but I could tell he was very uncertain. As I handled the umbrella, I devised a great way to get him more comfortable with it: I held it ahead of him, and as he walked toward it, the umbrella “retreated”. It worked like a charm! The way I see it, the advance and retreat is a good way to teach horses to walk toward spooky objects. I used to charge at loose dogs with Alibar and it saved us from touchy predicaments more than once.


As the umbrella retreated, Wizard became more bold. I was then able to lift the umbrella up to eye level, then up over my head. I could see the whites of Wizard’s eyes rolling as it lifted, but he held his ground and trusted me. We walked along with the umbrella over our heads. He even let me touch his sides with the closed umbrella- I could see him WANTING to jump away but he was sooo good about standing still. He’s such an honest horse.

We have a cold snap headed our way in New Jersey- the temperatures are supposed to drop to single digits tomorrow night. Wizard is ready with his plush winter coat, buckets of warm water, and lots of hay.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. dangerouspenguin permalink
    January 15, 2009 3:14 am

    That song is one of the many on DDR Hottest Party II — I had never heard it before.

    Mary is such a beauty. Wizard is nice too of course, but I love me a black mare.

  2. Krystine permalink
    May 18, 2009 7:04 am

    Can i ask how you made that platform?

    • May 20, 2009 1:04 pm

      Hi Krystine,

      Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about the platform since it is not mine and I did not make it. You might be able to find info from Parelli groups.



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