“No jump-cup! No!”

I find myself saying this a lot to Eragon lately.   Like lots of young horses, Eragon is mouthy–he loves to grab objects, chew on ropes etc.  Unlike other horses, Eragon has a real eye for detail and selects objects to grab with great care.  For instance:

1. Every time I pull Eragon out of the pasture wearing my winter coat, he pulls a very small elastic drawstring in the hood area of the coat.  He delicately grabs it in his teeth, pulls it until taut, and then lets it snap back on me.  How he sees/finds this small piece of the coat is a mystery.  What’s interesting is that he specifically remembers and looks for this piece every time I wear that coat.

2.Eragon likes to spin things.  He will grab the small lash of the dressage whip and flip the whip around in a circle.   He’s also done this with my camera case.  He’s even lifted a muck bucket out of a muck bucket cart (by the rope handles!)and attempted to flip it around.

But his latest obsession is jump cups.  It all started one day when I was walking him into the indoor.  There’s a hallway filled with unused jump stuff on our way, including a bucket of jump cups.  One day, he reached into the bucket and pulled out a jump cup by the string.  You can see where this is going.  The minute he realized his prize, he began to spin the jump cup in a large circle.   The pin was flying in the air, as was the heavy metal cup.  “Eragon!”  I yelled, but I couldn’t exactly yank it from him since it was spinning between us and likely to take my eye out.  I ended up walking into the arena before wrestling it away from him.

The obsession didn’t end there, though.  This week, he’s learned a new way to get  a hold of jump cups.  I usually let Eragon loose for a roll after a ride in the indoor.  There are typically  a few jumps up and poles scattered around.  Eragon soon learned that he could pull the jump cups off the standards by pulling the string!  I found it impressive/strange that he’s able to get the jump cup off the standard, since he needs to pull the pin out.  How did he know to do it?  Did he recognize that the object on the standard was the same he pulled from the bucket days earlier?  Or did he just try pulling on a string both times?  It’s probably the later, but the extreme smoothness and dexterity he used when pulling the cup from the standard made it seem, at least to me, that he remembered the object and how it can be manipulated.   Genius…or mere coincidence?

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