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.