Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Cruiser and I had a game we used to play called “Find Ellen.” I would take him out on a trail ride and Ellen would go for a hike on the trail. Of course, she couldn’t keep up with us because we trotted and cantered. We would ride out and meet her on the way back. I would chant “Find Ellen, where’s Ellen, find Ellen,” in a high pitched voice. After a while, Cruiser figured it out. His head would go up, he would look left and right and then he would start walking faster. The more I said it, the faster he would walk. Eventually, he would be gaiting—something he would only do for me when he wanted to trot and I wouldn’t let him. It was a lot of fun for both of us. As soon as he found Ellen, he would settle down and walk by her side all the way home.
Kevin taught Starry to look for Cruiser the same way. If I was out on a ride and Kevin was looking for us, he would say, “Find Cruiser.” He didn’t get Starry to go any faster, but Starry would start to neigh.
We have been going through a cold spell. Ellen prefers to ride Dante in the arena when it is really cold. I prefer to ride Cole in the park. So, I watch Ellen with Dante in the arena and then take Cole in the park. Ellen meets us on the other side of the river and walks with us. The ground has been frozen solid since there hasn’t been any snow to insulate it. I prefer not to trot on it—and Cole agrees.
Over New Year’s weekend, as I rode Cole down the hill to the river, I decided to try to teach him “Find Ellen.” The first day, I did the chant, he crossed the river and found Ellen on the other side. The second day, I did the same. On the third day, I was halfway down the hill when I started the chant. Cole tossed his head in the air, shook his mane and neighed. He very seldom neighs when I ride him, so this was something new. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, an couple minutes later, he did it again. When he got to the bottom of the hill, he tried taking off at a trot to the river crossing. (I made him walk, of course.)
After only 3 tries, Cole seems to have figured out the game. He is a genius. It also goes to show you how much he, just like Cruiser, likes walking with Ellen.