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Selena Ride 39; Wizard Session 109; JR Session 56: Circus Boy

October 19, 2009

Wizard the Trick Pony

Saturday, 10/17/09

The rainy spell is not over yet! It was another chilly night at the barn. I put my quarter sheet on Selena and we rode indoors with Mary the Morgan for a little less than an hour. Some rides are shorter with more intense work and some rides are longer with more walk breaks.

Our barn is hosting a Parelli clinic over the weekend. There are a few of the Parelli obstacles in the arena, like a platform, a car wash, and a pedestal. After investigating the Parelli toys, we began the ride with our usual walking warmup, starting on a loose rein. When she felt loosened up, we began our trot work, stretching, accepting contact, and eventually asking for more impulsion. To get the motor working, I asked for the forward trot on the long sides and a working trot on the short sides, followed by walk-trot transitions. We rode a few figure 8s and serpentines. There were two poles set up next to each other like an equal (=) sign and we rode through them, focusing on straightness. There were also a few traffic cones set up in a line- we zigzagged through them- she has catlike agility and I could feel her gathering herself with each turn.

During one of our walk breaks, we practiced lateral work- leg yields, then shoulder-in. Selena was focused, forward and supple- we did three trot-canter transitions in each direction. With each ride, her canter work is improving- less rushed, more balanced. At the end of the ride, she was just barely breaking a sweat and she was steaming in the chilly night air. I cooled her out, and put her sheet back on, and put her to bed.

My goal with Wizard and JR was to teach them how to stand their front feet on a pedestal. They had never seen a *real* pedestal before. We have a flat wooden stand that is made of a packing skid with wood on the top. This drum-type pedestal was new to them. For safety, it had a rubber mat on the top.

I was not sure if Wizard would be comfortable enough to learn the behavior in one night but I mapped out a plan and gave it a shot. This is how we worked on the pedestal:

– Wizard sniffs the pedestal out of curiosity. Click, treat.
– Wizard paws the pedestal out of curiosity. Click, treat.
– Any forward motion toward the pedestal. Click, treat.
– I lifted his hoof and touched it to the pedestal. Click, treat.
– He lifted his hoof and put it on the pedestal. Click, treat.
*** Gave him a short break so he could process the information ***
– Lifted his foot on the pedestal and pet him as he held it on the pedestal. Click, treat.
– He stepped up and placed both feet on the pedestal. Click, treat, treat, treat, treat!

Once he was up there, he looked around and seemed quite pleased with the situation as if to say, “Hey! I’m 18 hands tall! This is cooool!” His dismount was graceful and he stepped back on when I asked and seemed eager to perform his new trick.

The whole thing took about 15 minutes, no halter, just a clicker, carrots, and my hands to guide the hoof on the pedestal the first few times.

And for my next trick...

JR picked up the behavior a little faster than Wizard. I think his combination of confidence, agility, and food-motivation worked in his favor.

JR is ready for the circus

And Mary the Morgan learned the Pedestal Trick in two clicks!

Mary on the Pedestal (taken by a camera phone)

Mary on the Pedestal (taken by a camera phone)

Time for the circus. Or perhaps Tommie Turvey will take us on the road…

Tommie Turvey and Joker

Tommie Turvey and Pokerjoe in their famous comedy skit: "The Riding Instructor"

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