I brought out the blue ball today. Oh yeah, we have a blue ball. A very scary one… at least that is what they thought the first time they saw it. I bought it shortly after Apollon died, so I never got to introduce him to it, but since I have worked with ordinary balls and the horses before, I figured a huge blue one might present a bit more of a challenge for us.
Thing is though, without Poseidon and Apollon to tell the little ones that everything is terrifying, they really meet the world with much more openness. None of them was scared of the ball today.
Saleem even figured out how to roll it around. For Saleem to show such concentration and the ability to anticipate a series of actions is quite fantastic. My little air-head, growing up.
Nah, still an air-head, quite literally. Isn’t he awesome?
The girls are a bit more skeptic. They wanted to play along, but really, they didn’t see the point in a ball. It must be a female thing, ball playing is just not in us…
Apocalipse didn’t figure out how to roll it, but being a boy, he tried to eat it and step on it instead. It didn’t really work out.
Since it was just me and the camera I didn’t take any pictures where I worked with them and the ball, but the point to this ball is training them in being comfortable with things touching them and riding them. I roll the ball up and down their legs and down their backs. Yeah, I am a mean horse owner…
Actually, none of them minded. Marble was a bit skeptic, but she quickly let me roll it all over her. Apocalipse made sure to be all up in our faces, lending Marble a lot of moral support and standing at the ready to bite her whenever she didn’t stand still. Such a nice boy he is, helping me out with the training… Marble did help me out with Tardis as well, she held the rope for me and did not let go, so I ended up working with Tardis and the ball, while Marble was busy eating the lead rope, making sure Tardis did not go anywhere.
I got to admit that I am impressed with their focus and their ability to look past the fact that there are so many confusing things around them while I work with them. Training young horses in the middle of their herd is a new experience for me, and one of the things that Poseidon and Apollon could have never handled with their frail minds, but it is quite fantastic. They are so comfortable, so able to mirror each other at all times, that most of the things that might have scared them if they had been on their own, doesn’t get to them at all.
Still, there is a reason why I didn’t buy this ball until Apollon was gone. I worked with ordinary balls with Poseidon and he handled it, but he was never comfortable with it. Apollon hated the little balls. He would have exploded and killed me if I had ever tried rolling that big blue thing down his spine. This is just not something you do with any horse. So be careful if you want to try this at home.
A good clue is, if you leave the ball on the pasture, like in these pictures, and your horse are interested and starts playing with it, then it is a good exercise, although it quickly becomes a little pointless because the horses simply handles it as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
If it spooks and runs away, like Poseidon did, you can train it, and it is again, a good thing to train, hopefully making the horse spook less easily in the future, because it gradually learns to trust you more.
If your horse however, takes one look at the ball, like Apollon did with the little ones I let him look at, and attacks them, kicking and biting, teeth and hooves flying everywhere, ears pinned and sparks flying from the shoes, you leave it alone. There is no way you want to get caught anywhere near that, or in the cross fire.
Oh, he was a fantastic horse. And boy did I learn something about respecting the tremendous amount of force that resides within every horse. I don’t know how many times he blew up in my face when I least expected it.
But this post is not about Apollon. It’s just hard not to compare. After all, he and his brother, taught me everything I know about training horses. I dare say they did well. I am, after all, still alive. I must have a lucky star somewhere…
It is going to be a whole new experience for me though, the future, training four such curious and trusting horses as Apocalipse, Saleem, Marble and Tardis. Seeing them with the ball today, I wonder if I am going to get bored along the way. Is it going to be too easy?
And then I must shake my head and laugh. After 15 years with the red brothers, I can honestly say, it is a very nice feeling to be able to just hang out with your horses, place a ball between them, and not have anyone try and kill me, not have to worry that I might make a wrong sound and send Poseidon running scared, not having to be on high alert at all times.
So no, I don’t think I will get bored. Just happy for a change. Wouldn’t that be great?