Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What To Do On A Stormy Winter Day?

The view on the drive to the barn.  
At my house, it's about 35 degrees and raining, making everything into slush. I'm off to the barn on this unlikely afternoon, because I've invited everyone to play indoor soccer - on horseback!

Our Equi-Spirit ball is 40" in diameter!

I just received my new Equi-Spirit horse soccer ball (http://www.naturalhorsetalk.com/horsetoys.html) in the mail last week (and it was an adventure getting it inflated!) and couldn't wait to play with it and see how much fun the horses have with it.  The promotional DVD that came with it included video of horses playing free as well as under saddle with the ball.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cR343qUMmU

At the barn, it is about 33 degrees and has obviously been snowing for some time - there is about 8"
already and it's coming down fast & furious. Rhio is the first one to "meet" the ball - and he is curious

and mildly apprehensive. Soon his buddy Tomas joins him and the fun begins!

Christine, armed with a pocket full of treats, quickly teaches the horses to touch the ball with their noses (touch = treat); Rhio will do just about anything for a treat!

Christine teaches Rhio to touch the ball with his nose for a treat.

Soon we are joined by Karen & Duke, although Duke is extremely reluctant to approach or touch the ball.

Karen trying to get Duke to "be brave" by "chasing" the ball.

Teresa & Sweetie join the fun & Sweetie acts like the ball is hardly worth her notice!

Sweetie is much more interested in what's in Teresa's pocket - sugar cubes!

Rhio has figured out the "touch - treat" game very quickly, so I start trying to teach him to move the ball, either with his nose or his front legs. He doesn't get this quite as quickly, probably because I am not fast enough with the treats. I am thinking about clicker training Rhio, and this would be a perfect situation
to use the clicker.

Boy Rhio sure can lean!  He won't take that step that will move the ball, however.

Finally Christine & I decide to try mounted play with the ball - hoping that the horses will get into the game by chasing the ball.

We'll happily stand next to the ball.

And we'll happily trot by the ball.

But we refuse to participate in actually moving the ball ourselves.
Here, Karen walks the ball along while Christine & Tomas "chase" it.
Eventually, Tommie gets into kicking the ball himself, but only when his "safety net"
(a.k.a. Karen & Teresa) are walking along with him.

Cricket is also quite unsure about the ball and soon decides it's not worth his attention, until it moves!
Then it's very scary and requires running away from.

The ball gets Cricket's undivided attention and makes for a great photo!

We all spent a very enjoyable afternoon playing with the soccer ball, and our horses certainly had plenty of mental stimulation.  But, unfortunately, I fear we are many sessions away from actually playing soccer on horseback!

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