Lately I had been eyeing the mallets and wondering how Gus would do... So day 1) I grabbed the mallet and slowly introduced it and the ball to Gus. He was a saint! He probably was more interested in the grass we were standing on then the stick I was holding in my hand- he didn't flinch a muscle. So next came the ball, at first he thought it might be edible and sniffed it for a few seconds and then realizing it was just a plastic lacrosse ball (the real polocrosse ball has been lost in the shuffle of moving between 3 barns) and he went back to snoozing. I rubbed the ball all over his face, shoulder, flank, etc. Then I started lightly tossing the ball at him to see how he would react it if accidentally hit him, again nothing- the only thing he did was reach for some mouthfulls of grass while I pelted him lightly with the ball. So obviously he's fine with the mallet and ball being in some sort of control, so the next step was to see how he would react with it in motion. I started swinging the mallet in large circles by his eyes and flanks, nothing, zero, nilche. Gus continued to stand there and look at me like I was some crazy person because he wasn't bothered at all by flying objects!!! Good sign Gus!!
Day 2) Ride time!!! I tacked up Gus today and took him out into the field to see how would react in "play" mode. I waved the mallet around and then tossed the ball straight out in front and VOILA! He did nothing. My horse was so game and awesome that I decided his next career should be as a polocrosse pony!!! He's a great height, obviously doesn't care about the ball and stick, he's top man in the field but doesn't usually bite or kick except in play, so he'd be aggressive but not dangerous (a plus for a polox pony) the only issue I foresee is speed. He's not the fastest horse in the world, and it does take an effort to make him go anywhere, but I think if he was playing a game he'd pick up the pace and get a little more excited. He's really handy and listens to your leg really well so today I didn't have any problems stopping and turning with one hand on the reins (another reason that I'm in love with his Dressage training!!!) The only problem we had today was ME!!! I couldn't pick up the ball for the life of me!!! Walk and sometimes at the trot I was ok, but every time we would canter right past the ball... Now to give myself some credit, and not take the total blame... we only had a lacrosse ball which is about half the size and much lighter than a polocrosse ball. Plus the grass was really tall and the mallet kept getting caught on the grass blades instead of being able to scoop up the ball. So word to the wise- there is a reason polo players and polocrosse players play on mowed fields!!!! Plus I lost the ball a couple of times and had to walk around looking for it- even with it being bright orange it was difficult to see if it was buried under a tall thick clump of grass!!!!
Now I just need to find some friends in the area to come over and play a game with us! And find a REAL polocrosse ball.... But if not I'll keep playing by myself because it really is a great way to cross train Gus. He has to listen to my leg cues, practice galloping forward and slowing down, and turning with balance- all good things that an eventer should know! So here we go- it's Polo-Crosse Training time!!!