This fortnight Tango has had lessons in tying up. He is getting better each time. Some days he definitely has attitude still, but gets over it fast.
I’m picking his feet up each day. Last week I decided to take Tango for his first float trip. My son and I go on regular bush walks, so I decided to take Tango with us. It’s only a 10 minute trip each way. On the way there was he jumping around a bit. He unloaded well, thoroughly enjoyed his walk, then loaded really well and travelled home perfectly.
Yesterday Tango had his second float trip. He took a few minutes to load, but travelled brilliantly! And this time with another horse. It’s approximately 40 minutes each way to the beach and back. I rode my mane lead mare, while leading Tango in to the bay. I’m so proud of how Tango took all of this in his stride. My mare Mayanne loves to splash, absolutely covering us in water. Tango just dealt with it.
Tango even let some local kids come to have a pat.
I’m still in the process of mouthing Tango. I’ve been using a cropper on him too. Just in case I get enough time to put him in harness.
Tango can still be unsure, but is better each day.
Week 5 and 6 have gone really fast but we were lucky to get some nice sunny days last weekend which made training a lot easier. At the beginning of week 5 Dawn had her first ever bath, she was a little nervous at the start because our hose is rather noisy but I turned the pressure right back and she quickly realised how nice a soft, soapy brush feels. I think she really enjoyed it by the end especially as she is losing so much of her winter coat and now she is looking so silky smooth. After her bath I dried her off and took her for a nice pick around the house which she always loves. Later in the week Dawn and I started on a few simple tricks like stepping up onto a wide wood stump with her front feet, and we practiced our backing up trying to use just a small amount of pressure. Dawn was really interested in our horse float, Dad left it out after pony club so I took the chance to lead her around it a few times and show her the ramp. It wasn’t long before she was following me up the ramp so I rewarded her with chaff. After a few days of loading and unloading Dawn is fine to stand locked in the front bay for as long as needed. She is getting a lot better at being caught every day and has no problems with rugging, even the leg straps don’t worry her now. She is feeling braver about me taking her for little walks on her own and makes the funniest expressions.
Week 5 For Jazzy was pretty smooth sailing, Just going over our basics, Lunging, Saddling and riding. We have started to tie jazzy up with the other horses, so she learns to stand patiently and wait her turn for whatever we do that day! Jazzy seems to be coming into domestication smoothly, She very human orientated. She does not like to miss out on whats going on! She seeks out the Brushes everytime I have them in my hand! She absolutely loves her rug, and even more so throwing things around her yard of a night and rubbing them into the dirt! Haha, shes full of character that we just keep seeing more and more of. Jazzy has shown that most object don’t scare her, but she is more interested in coming up and sniffing and sussing out what shes got there! This week object unintentionally was some orange netting on the ground in the corner! We were riding along and she kept trying to walk over to that corner I eventually let her and she walked straight up sniffed it, proceeded to pick it up in her mouth and toss it around! Thankfully shes not a spooky horse or that could of ended badly!
Week 6. Jazzy gained a friend this week. Another little brumby that has come in for work, They are so similar its crazy! Jazzy is a little bit of a bossy pants and like to keep herself between her friend and me at all times! Although when im not in the paddock with them they are eating side by side and have even been seen to share a food bowl!
Weve had a bit of rain towards the end of the week this week, along with a muster on our property, Jazzy has been well exposed to people, cars, trucks and cows this week, All of which she took In with little worries! With this going on jazzy has gained a few days off which shes thoroughly enjoyed by rolling in the mud and keeping herself busy watching all the going ons.
Athena’s progress has come a long way, with many firsts this week. Her desensitisation is continual as there are many new things left for her to uncover. She is a very smart and curious horse, which is always good from a trainer’s point of view as they constantly learn new things, however smart horses are also good at learning bad habits. Athena braved the mighty float and took everything within her stride. She enjoyed mouthing the water while she was being bathed for the first time, at the start she was moving around and very cautious, ready to pull back. Half way through and she was playing with the hose, curling her lip and somehow managed to grab the hose off me, and was throwing it around. During these humbling moments, it reminded me of the importance of timing. Knowing when things are too soon, or when they are overdue. Most horses are very forgiving creatures and we have to be the same for them as well. Sometimes we have a process in our mind or a lesson plan set for that day. However, once we start working the horse we may have to go back and retune a certain part we worked through in the past. The foundation is upmost importance and the cracks should be smoothed out, before starting to add more foundation. Athena was working well in one of our sessions this week. So, for that day I cut it at 15 minutes as what I asked she was very giving. I never like to overwork a horse or keep asking for the same thing over and over again as they just get frustrated, as do we. Even though it was a quick session, she did everything I asked for, so I had no need to extend the lesson any longer. I just made sure we ended on a good note to reassure her, she was on the right path.
Summer has now had about 10 rides and she has taken on everything like a superstar. What I have found with her to date is that there is zero nastiness in her and she is super smart with everything that I throw at her. I can show her something once and she retains the information and tries so hard the next time I ask her for the same thing. She is now living in the stables with the other horses and has such a big personality. She will see you walk into the stables and Winnie at you. She also has this really funny habit of nickering at me very softly when I dismount her. She is a really vocal and expressive horse and this is made it a joy to train her because I usually know what she is presenting me with. I am thoroughly enjoying this process with her and can’t wait for the next fortnight to hopefully get her out and about!
Pirates attitude has truly amazed me this last two weeks, he is definitely more relaxed and has proved this in his much calmer reactions. He is trying so hard in every way, I like the way he is beginning to think things through and seems to understand my requests a little quicker each time.
I have found Pirate to be great with the girth on the roller or saddle and was actually impressed at how well he accepted these. He has progressed to steering nicely while long reining in either the halter or bridle and is clever with ‘woah’ and ‘walk on’ really listening to my voice commands. Next came the use of my handy lead horse and with a little encouragement of being pushed up from behind at first Pirate is happy to be led alongside and keeps level at my lead horses’ shoulder. This gave him a chance to get a real good look at me being above him, he can hear all the saddle squeaks and flaps and handle the odd bump from a stirrup.
After a few lead horse lessons and plenty of me jumping around on the ground like a drunk monkey I felt Pirate was comfortable enough for me to have a first sit, he had shown he had learned enough that if things went pear-shaped I could quickly yield his head around to my knee to bring him to a standstill. This is one of the important ground work skills taught early and practiced often and I believe it can be the most useful aid in stopping a flight reaction or other undesirable dramas. I am super proud of how calmly he stood while I hopped on and off several times then just had a few laps walking, changing direction, stopping and starting.
Since arriving Pirate has always been extremely interested in watching the other horses on our property, it has been tricky at times to keep his attention as he will often stop during a session with his head held high to stare or snort. I understand this behavior is what he learned from being a stallion in the wild, looking after his herd and it makes me wonder about his past. I can only imagine the life he lived and feel empathy for these massive changes he is now encountering. His focus is slowly improving but this is not something that I make a huge issue of at this point, he is still very willing and happy to have a go at new things.
During Weeks 5 and 6 of the challenge VBA Teddy has really come out of his shell, he is learning that he can really communicate and that I am here to listen! Teddy has begun to come to the gate of his paddock and call out each morning when I leave the house, he will also now follow me out of his paddock down to the yards without a halter and will nudge me if he wants something (usually food). He has become increasingly expressive about his feelings towards something whether he is enjoying a good brush or massage or thinks I’m taking too long to feed him. His expression carries through to his ridden work now that his confidence is building, he will turn and nip my feet if he doesn’t want to go forward, paw the ground if we walk past a puddle that might be nice to roll in and will toss his head if he doesn’t want to go the direction I ask. These are all small things that will need correcting over the next couple of weeks but for now it’s important that I acknowledge what he is telling me and make him feel heard so that our relationship and his confidence can continue to grow. We have been repeating a lot of the ground and ridden work from previous weeks improving his confidence, balance and fitness. Teddy has had 5 rides and we have started incorporating some small obstacles and trotting. He is becoming stronger each day and takes each new thing on without a fuss. We are both enjoying the journey this far and Teddy is proving to be an amazing pony! The sky is the limit!
Flynn is gaining confidence in lots of new things every day. It is still slow going managing his issues on his near side in regards to his lack of vision at some angles. I have been focusing on teaching him to turn his head to see me better when working on this side. I have found using my usual methods effective including spending more time with less pressure in common everyday things such as raking his yard while he is in it and just moving around him, allowing him to become comfortable when I'm out of sight as he can still be reactive to some sounds. However, I find he is recovering quickly and what used to be a big shy is now a small flinch. The massage therapist I use introduced herself to him last week. We did not expect to be able to give him a full assessment/ treatment but I wanted to see how he would react to having someone else near him. He was very unsure and did not allow Stacey to touch him, snorting and pulling away from her. I found he positioned himself behind me, even close enough to have his chin on my shoulder to peer over at her. I actually took great pride and comfort in the fact that he had chosen to stand behind me to protect himself. Stacey is lovely and patient and was happy just to stand near him and talk to him for now. In the week that followed, I had the dentist do his teeth. While he was quite anxious to begin with, he managed to get through the whole experience without any mishaps. It was interesting to note the dentist said he is a little bit parrot mouthed on one side, due to the growth plates growing as a young horse normally on one side and obviously a little bit slower through his injury on the near side. While it was evident to her the difference in one side of his mouth, she stated it would not affect him in the long run for bridle,
eating etc. I have had a slight setback with him developing greasy heel in the near hind. It's been incredibly wet here and hard to clean him up properly as he is still a little bit anxious to hose his back end, whilst he is now good with his chest and legs. He had a couple of easy days and I'm keeping him in a sand yard. The foot has improved vastly over the last few days. For this reason I have not put any pressure on him learning to pick up his back feet this week as the near hind was a little bit sore. He has however, comfortably had his front feet picked up and rasped in preparation for the farrier. Flynn has also accepted the saddle in the last few days. Again, no pressure was placed on him. The saddle has been put on and off briefly several times before I girthed him up on Wednesday for a little walk around the round yard. I strongly believe if I keep his confidence even though it is very slow going in the early days, Flynn will achieve great things in a short time once his confidence in me it's fully cemented. I found this to be so with many horses I have worked with in the past that have been traumatized or just plain wild. Flynn is also accepting a wider range of diet these days as well, having slowly been introduced to weight gain pellets and wet bran along with his normal feed of chaff and hay. His condition is improving and he can’t get enough of his new treats! His bite marks are also growing over nicely with his new coat coming through. Knowing he was probably bottom of the pecking order, I have put off working him with my lead pony for a bit longer as he was quite intimidated the first time. I also put the mini pony in with him for a few days to build his confidence. He was happy to have Vic as a mate but kept him away from his food which is what I hoped for. As much as I dislike getting in front of the camera to speak, I did make a little video you can find on my page to show my work with Flynn and explain to your average person how his eye might affect him during the training process. And just his training in general, letting everyone get a bit of insight into how Flynn is going and how I work.
So another uneventful update with Nightstar.
Definitely feeling very behind compared to the other trainers although she is coming along very well from previous weeks. A lot less defensive behaviour this week and more acceptance.
She waits at the gate for me now and has such a cheeky personality – I often find her playing and tipping all her water out!
She’s starting to trust more each day. It’s crazy to think how they were once completely wild with how well they take everything on, it’s definitely been a challenge for myself in more ways than one but I am loving every minute of it.
One day at a time :)
Yindi started off being incredibly timid.
In the days that followed I went about my daily chores feeding, cleaning the manure up , changing the water etc and slowly this inquisitive 7 yr old mare began to want to get to know me a bit more. Little choice I guess.
After one month I am now able to pick her feet up, brush her, put saddles on her, rug her , lead her around in and out of all my different areas. She seems relaxed and trusting around 80%.
I’m truly impressed with what she can handle . She doesn’t like the tarp, she doesn’t like surprises, she doesn’t really like new foods I offer her but she loves carrots now which only took about 4 weeks!!
I’m excited to ride her, excited to see if taking this time has any pay-offs . I’ll let you know!
I can’t believe it’s been another two weeks since the last update. It’s got me a little worried that I’m not doing enough because I don’t know what to say that’s much different from what I said a fortnight ago as things have stayed pretty much the same. Other than being sick for the last week, working around or with the wind and the rain on any given day can have its challenges we still get a little done every day. I did load Queen on the trailer the other Friday and took her into town for a wander around cars, people and people with prams or on bikes! was crazy. She settled into it all though and soon enough she was stuffing her face with grass in the main street of Mansfield all while everything was going on around her. I hope for the next update I have more to say but for now I’ll leave it at that.
Week 5&6 have once again been a challenge with the weather – will it ever stop raining?!! Despite the rain and cold, we’ve still made some great progress. During this last fortnight, Spice has become a lot more comfortable in her surroundings and is getting the hang of the routine. She now calls out to me in the morning as I’m coming over for feed ups, and she waits on the side of her yard closest to me and almost meets me at the gate when I bring her feed in. This is a huge difference as up until now she has mostly stayed on the opposite side of her yard and watched from a distance. Spice is also allowing me to rub her from ears to tail on the near side which is also a big leap in her trust in me. But the biggest achievement this week … drum roll please … is that Spice has let me put the halter on her. All of our preparation to date has been leading up to haltering, and it’s ended up being a non-event (which was how I hoped it would go). The hardest part for Spice is dropping her nose into the nose band – she is still a bit unsure and needs to take her time – but she was amazing having me fiddle around and do up the knot, reposition the halter and didn’t care about wearing it. We’ve also been working on giving to the pressure of a neck rope to follow the feel with her focus and then her feet. It’s been part of my plan to use the neck rope to teach Spice to follow a feel before connecting a lead rope to her halter. I didn’t want to get caught up in the idea that once the halter was on then I’ve got ‘control’ of her - I want her to feel that she has a say in what’s happening and that I’m listening if she gets concerned. This approach seems to be working for us so far! Unfortunately with all the rain, Spice’s yard has gotten too muddy to manage so we’re going to have to change things around – hopefully this won’t unsettle her too much. We might be back to square one next week but that will just give us a chance to start over and consolidate what we’ve done to date. No matter what happens, I’m pretty excited for this next fortnight!
These past two weeks have flown. Primi has been introduced to many new things and has been taking them all in within her stride. She may be cautious at first but quickly learns that what she is being introduced to is not a threat. I have found that if she feels too much pressure she goes into survival mode of wanting to run and avoid the situation but if I reassure her with a scratch behind her ear she is easily comforted with this. My initially aim for the these two weeks were to have Prim’s first rides under saddle. She feels quiet enough to be around, I can touch and fuss all over her, pick up all of her feet and so on. But unfortunately due to the weather we are underwater! This encouraged the idea of more exposure on the ground, around the property. Prim’s first outing out of the round yard was into the arena, I felt safe letting her explore into the arena as I could have the gate closed behind us and absolute worst case scenario I could run her back into the round yard. However, my paranoia was not needed. Yes, she was much more alert and had the odd spook from being on edge. I found that I was her security blanket, she would come to me for reassurance. This week has taught me to trust the training we have put in. Prim got a fright and trotted off into the arena. Instant panic mode was activated ‘what if I can’t catch her in the arena’ but sure enough, once Prim stopped, I walked straight over to her shoulder, grave her a pat and then we were on our way again. Now Primrose has upgraded to a private paddock, surrounded by new paddock neighbours and enjoys her 11 o’clock snooze.
Once again Courage just keeps getting better and better .
These past two weeks , I have been concentrating on being Consistent with Courage under saddle . He’s had approximately 15 rides so far . He’s now being ridden in the arena and being exposed to many other obstacles, including cattle and other horses being worked around him .
Courage has taken everything in his stride and to be honest is just a pleasure to work with . I have also incorporated Courage in my weekly lessons , just having him around and being exposed to other people has been a great stepping stone for him . One thing I have noticed differently with this particular brumby to other domesticated horses that I have worked with , is the absolute loyalty from him .There is nothing this little horse won’t do or try for me .
I can leave him lose in a large 100metre x 100metre arena to have a pick on some grass but the minute I step in that arena he will walk up to me and not take his eyes off me until I leave . He is super inquisitive and there’s not a thing happening around him that he will miss , he’s constantly alert and notices things happening before I do . I still have not put a bridle on Courage as , I have just been concentrating on softness and balance under saddle , I like the horse to be very soft and responsive in a halter before I transition to a bridle.
He’s definitely not far off that transition.
Courage is now confidently being ridden under saddle , I can catch him anywhere , leave him to pick on grass and he won’t leave that area , I can tie Courage solid to any post or tree or wherever he is happy to wait , he’s fine with having all his legs handled , loves to be rugged .
We haven't been able to give him a wash as yet as the weather has been far to cold . But I have no doubt he will handle that well .
Week 7 I have also been taking Courage out on some trail rides , giving him something else to think about and not get bored doing the same thing everyday .
Next week I will be focusing on float training .
Overall this little horse amazes me on a daily basis and has really opened my eyes up on the
Australian Brumby . There’s nothing these little horses won’t do for you once they trust you .
If anyone has an opportunity to work or own a brumby and has the patience and time you won’t be disappointed.
I am going to be showcasing the versatility of the brumby throughout my journey, as I believe there is nothing Courage won’t do .
I’d like to thank some people that have been a very big part of Courage and My journey so far , that is Crossroads Trading for supplying all of Courages grain throughout the journey , Randall’s run Goat Farm and Naughty Horse .
Thanks for following our journey and we look forward to posting weeks 7&8
It has been a pretty up and down 2 weeks with Flicka due to horrid weather but we have sure
achieved a lot.
Last week saw Flicka introduced to some basic obstacles, she learned to walk over a plastic tarp,
negotiate coloured poles, and step onto and over a raised platform. As she is building her confidence with the strange ways of humans she is becoming more inquisitive and interested in checking out new things.
I also discovered that she loves to jump! We have been working on driving forward rather than leading along and she will happily move freely next to me and also be sent forward over obstacle and small jumps. This week my wonderful new round yard arrived. Until now everything has been done on line as I didn’t have a safe work space as such. At first Flicka was really confused about being asked to move away in such a big space and it made her quite nervous. Now she can calmly walk, trot and canter and change directions just when I point my finger left or right. She is fairly porky so can definitely use the extra exercise She has also worn a bridle and snaffle bit and was really not concerned about it at all.
Flicka still is quite reactive (flight is strong) when startled or confused so ive had to drop all expectations and take lots of backwards steps to make sure she is comfortable and understanding with each thing I ask, I’m definitely learning a lot more patience.
It takes as long as it takes, you must work with the horse you have today, not always being able to pick up where you left off yesterday.
I’m definitely not doing this challenge to compete against others and if at the end I can have her
calm and comfortable just on the ground in new situations then I am happy. She is an amazing mare and deserves to be set up well for her future. I just hope I can do her justice.
A big thank you to Warrnambool Equine and Black Horse for her lovely hemp supplements, her coat is so soft and shiny
Well here we are at update 3 and I confess I am not sure what to write. The fortnight has been met
with more sick kids and more rain. Elsie has by far the most challenging horse I have worked with.
Her fear of new things has meant our progress has been very slow. Far slower than I could wish for,
She has been stuck in the “I’m scared” mode for some time and it’s been hard work to get past it. I
am still not there yet. I have managed to get her to accept a halter around her neck and face, but she
is a mare who makes it clear if she is not happy and she will try to bite, kick, strike and turn and go
her back legs at me. So I am always on my guard.
I always aim to finish a session on a positive note and she is more and more comfortable in our
space. She has accepted being touched on her neck, back and slowly her face. She has come to
accept ropes around her legs due to my terrible roping skills. The slow pace of this journey has really
pushed me and many times I have asked myself “can I really do this?” But every time I feel like giving
up, I try again. Working with horses like Elsie I tell myself will help my skills and patience in the long
run. It’s like my old pastor would say, “If you ask God for patience, he won’t give it to you, he will
teach you.” Patience is something that comes with things that test us, push us to our limit. Kids are
great ones for teaching us patience. My plan for this is, I have no plan. Each day, I go out and I
achieve as much as I can. Safety is my number one priority and despite the slow progress, I will keep
on going. My son James is my helping hand and together we are both learning a lot, we are growing
closer and that is the best reward in all this.
Now that we are at the end of the sixth week I feel Maali and I are well on the way to making a great trust connection. While I have progressed more slowly than I thought, I think it has given Maali and I a great foundation that we are building on. Maali spends her time in the small paddock connected to
the arena with a few of my other socially stable horses however she hasn’t made actual friends with them as of yet. She is quite submissive and moves away when told by the other horses. I can now take Maali out for a walk around the property, groom her, lunge out in the arena over a few trot poles which she trotted over really nicely. I am working on canter at the moment as she is quite stressed when asked to canter which shows me she is still very tense mentally as well as physically. However we are going slow and careful, We are working on transitions from walk to trot to canter then back down to trot or walk and stop with lots of breaks to help Maali learn that when she feels heightened she discovers she can calm down again and the more she does this the better she will get with regulating her emotions which will help her be a calm and confident horse that can move forward freely with a relaxed mind. I’ve introduced the saddle pad and will probably put the bareback pad on her this weekend which will be great! I realise we are far behind most of the other horses and trainers however I have learned a lot from this experience and I’m sure we will get there
in the end!
This was a big week for Rumba. It was time for us to relocate to our other property which meant she would have to load onto the dreaded trailer again.
We worked on trailer loading at the end of week 4 which set her up for a very relaxed transport day. The trip took 2 ½ hours and she unloaded so calmly, taking in her new location with ease and relaxation. The green grass may have helped a bit too. Monday was a day for grass grazing on the lead, making sure that she was still able to check in with me and that she wasn’t leaving mentally when she was eating. Low stress day for both of us that day. The rest of the week was working with her out in the paddock, building on our groundwork and focus. She came through the week with progress, softness and willingness to try.
Another week of firsts for Rumba. We started the week with float loading, which she found challenging but with her degree of willingness she managed to come through beautifully. That day my husband casually walked along with us chatting as we went, on our way back to her paddock. I was asking her to take an interest in various things when it dawned on me that she had a person on either side of her head as we walked and it hadn’t caused her any worry. It’s moments like this that reminds me of how far she has come.
Rumba met the ride-on mower this week. She was out in her paddock and I was observing her over the fence. She was quite fearful and distressed about this experience but when I went into the paddock she ran over and stood next to me and watched the mower, her worry slowly reduced. Wednesday was farrier day. I had worked with her legs and feet so I felt confident she would be okay. Yet again she came through the experience with flying colours, better than some of the seasoned horses I’ve seen. I finished off the week with groundwork out in the paddock introducing new things. Today Rumba had to work with my 3 dogs hanging around her legs, running circles around her and playing chasey in her work area. This added so many distractions for her but she was able to keep her willingness and softness for most of our session.
I was looking back on our photos (and videos) today to find one to send with this update when I came across our first day photos. This Brumby had her whole life turned upside down with no explanation, thrown into a new environment and introduced to a whole new way of living and in 6 short weeks she is finding comfort and safety in me. This is such a big responsibility to take on, one that I am relishing and accepting with open arms.
Victorian Brumby Association
Brumby Junction Sanctuary, Glenlogie, Victoria AU
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