Tuesday, September 2, 2014

and . . . Red Stands Up Cones

Red says that we had a lot of fun today, and he's right.  We did 20 minutes of walking under saddle today - our second 20 minute session and our 6th ride since he's been back in work.   Walking around in an arena for 20 minutes can be a bit of a bore, so before our ride, I'd set up some cones for us to use.  We rode for a while, using the cones for our figures.  And then Red, by chance, knocked over one of the cones - and I had an idea . . .

Once, a long time ago, I saw Mark Rashid's horse set up a cone that had been knocked over, by stepping carefully on the side.  Mark said that your horse can understand what you want in your mind and try to do it - and in fact be able to do it - if you pay attention and reward the slightest try.

So I decided to see if I could ask Red to set up cones that had been knocked over . . .

Now, Red and I were using the big orange - but soft plastic, not hard - cones, which make things a bit more comfortable.  I took Red up to the fallen cone, and we stood there.  If he tried to move away, I redirected him towards the cone.  If he did nothing, I asked him to move across the cone.  Perhaps just by chance, he pawed at the cone and stood it up.  I praised him effusively, and we went for a walk.  A light bulb started to come on . . .

Within a few minutes, we were knocking down cones and setting them back up all over the arena.  Sometimes Red knocked a cone back upright with a hoof, and sometimes he gently pushed it back up with his nose.  He thought it was a mighty fine game.

Red's very curious, and very intelligent, but seeing how quickly he caught on to what I wanted was just plain amazing - and fun, too!  I think this is just a small example of how much our horses are willing to listen to us and respond, and how capable they are of this sort of communication.


  1. That looks like a fun exercise -- for both of you!

  2. now that is a cool trick. I am now wondering if I can teach my horse to bring me his fly mask when he gets it off....

  3. That's awesome! Good boy Red! The curious horses seem to be really intelligent- and that's what I heard Richard Shrake discuss in a symposium I attended years ago.

  4. What a super game!! It made that ride all the more interesting for you both and proved, beyond a doubt, how intelligent horses are. Now you can hire Red out to the cones driving competitions to set cones back up....but you will also need to teach him to put a tennis ball on top....*S*

    1. Red could probably do that - but he'd be likely to take the tennis balls and run off with them . . .

  5. Wow - love this! I am thinking our pony would adore this game. :)


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