Tonight, I grabbed the big ball…
… and started rolling it at Rocky. He’s not afraid of it, and has concluded that it is a treat dispenser, as sometimes when he rolls it over, he finds a cookie on the ground behind it.
We invented a whole new game, which he played, at Liberty, in the 70 x 80 arena, until I ended it while we were still having fun.
Then I even rode with the bareback pad, continuing through my awkwardness until I found some fluidity, and then all done.
I rolled the ball under his belly from about 12 feet away. He stood there looking awkward for a second, then bowed,nudged it with his muzzle between his front legs until it was wedged in his hind legs, then craned his nose forward to ask me for a cookie. I gave him one, and he did a perfect Sideways off the ball.
After that, when I tried to roll it under him, he swiveled to face me. I started jogging in arcs toward his middle and he continued to spin — I never got a shot! I sped up, darting left and right, back and forward, always as if I was going to roll the ball under his belly. Every time, he pivoted to face, either spinning on his front or getting his hind end under him and leveraging himself that way. I made my arcs wider and traveled further back and he followed, keeping his front exactly blocking the ball the entire time.
It was like cutting although not as fast and hard. I can’t have him do too much spinning on the front due to his coffin joint arthritis but we weren’t pounding or going faster than a walk (well, I was jogging, but he wasn’t), so I think a few were okay. I wish I’d had the Flip out there — hopefully he’ll want to play again some time when we can catch it on camera.
Best of all, he had his ears perked and his eyes forward the entire time. And he was at Liberty in an arena, not a small round pen. He could have wandered away at any time and he chose instead to engage and play! I ended the game before he lost interest and stroked him for a while, beaming approval and pleasure at him so he knew he was loved and successful.
Here is the arena:
I tried a couple of other things with the ball, like dribbling it, or putting it on my head and walking all around him. He was fine with that, but when I touched him on the side of his back with it, he Sidewaysed away. I kept it lightly touching him until he stopped, then I put it on the ground and bounced it away from him. I’ll go On-Line to teach “the ball on your back is safe” and not set us up to fail at Liberty.
Then I dressed him in hackamore and bareback pad and did a very, very brief follow the rail, at the walk, that nevertheless managed to include several mistakes on my part.
- I looked down instead of where I was going after I mounted, which led to a struggle to unstick his feet and move him into the arena.
- I am scared again to be bareback and I needed to sit longer at the halt to relax my butt and knees.
- I need to dismount on the tack trunk, not in the arena, as I hurt my feet. Again. (This is an injury thing, not a “I don’t know how to dismount” thing, and is temporary. But it’ll take longer to heal if I keep forgetting to treat it right.)
- I need to use my knee brace!!!
Once I relaxed, breathed, focused, and brought my life up, the pattern went smoothly. I kept it short because by now he was starting to favor his right front hoof. He’s newly bare and I don’t have boots for him yet so I have to not overdo just because it’s fun.