Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blessi Works for Peanuts--Literally

From time to time, Blessi and I retire to the arena and work on silly tricks like spin the pony, piaffe in place (which is currently really kick in place), toot a bicycle horn, bow, carrot stretches, play a child's piano, identify numbers (in progress), hold on to something (in progress), etc. 

Blessi will work really hard for any kind of treat but his favorite is peanuts.  While clicker training, I usually reward him with one--that's right just one--Spanish roasted peanut.  Blessi is very careful in taking the peanut off the palm of my hand.  Since peanuts are so small, sometimes it is like feeding a fish to a dolphin.  Blessi kind of opens hims mouth and  I throw one peanut onto the side of his tongue.

We were practicing tricks in the arena.  I brought the whole can of peanuts into the arena and occasionally refreshed the stash of peanuts in my pocket.   The peanut can was stored in the observational area--a little porch-like structure raised above the surface of one corner of the arena. 
Close up of lid showing where Blessi bit
through the plastic
As the session progressed, I noticed that Blessi was playing the "trick game" at two different levels.  One level is enthusiastically offering tricks for a peanut.  The other level is trying to get as close to the deck as possible and making a grab for the entire peanut can--thus earning the jackpot.  Trying to keep ahead of his strategized movements was mentally and physically taxing for me so I decided to store the can of peanuts outside the arena. 

After finishing the session, Blessi and I excited the arena and stopped to socialize with Amy and her horse.  Quick as a thought, Blessi grabbed the peanut can by the lid and popped the top strewing peanuts about the gravel.  How did he know how to remove a plastic lid?  It is not like he gets to practice this movement which usually requires opposable thumbs.

As a follow up, he passed a fellow boarder's tack box and noticed she had a can of leather cleaner.  As an optimist, Blessi made a grab for the can again--going right for the lid.  Thank goodness I was able to intercept that movement.

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