Well over a month ago you humbled me with your presence.
I cannot believe how patient you have been with me.
Nothing like a wild horse to tell me where I’m at!!!
It’s humbling all the way.
The fact that I really don’t think you’d be here if you had a choice.
Here on my farm, Hours from where you were born, miles, far far away from your mob and your
Yet still you are patient.
Not mean, not cold, quite the opposite.
You are fair and inquisitive, willing and brave.
You are forgiving and fun.
I’ve lunged you, saddled you, stabled you , ridden you, rugged you, flapped flags and bags , washed
and brushed you.
Changed your food, cut your hair and done your nails, you still nicker when you see me.
You are the first thing I think about when I wake up and you are the last thing I think about before I
YINDI, I really really like you,
And THANK-YOU !
It honestly is going so fast I am unsure where to start .
Courage is now working very nice under saddle , we have now incorporated a bridle with a snaffle bit . Because I work so much with my horses in a halter first I find the transition to bridle is quiet easy on the horses .
When I first introduced the bridle to Courage I let him wear it for a few hours each day for around three days and then found when I was riding his acceptance was a lot better ,in saying that not all horses are the same this little horse from day 1 has been very willing and accepting .
I have had Courage now for 8 weeks and this horse is truly something special . He is now comfortably travelling great under saddle in and out of the arena .
For the last few weeks I have been focusing on softness and moving forward , now I am just starting to incorporate balance and holding gait .
We are now working on the side pass , movement of the forequarter’s and stops. I have also been working on taking Courage out on trails with other riders .
We have noticed Courage likes a three day weekend , he doesn’t like Mondays every Monday he comes in with a grumpy attitude his face says it all . It’s quiet funny to witness .
Over all I have absolutely no complaints with this little horse and our journey so far .
I also will mention we finally had a break in the bad weather and he was able to have his first wash and shampoo , he is also now starting to drop his winter coat .
I am enjoying watching everyone’s journey with there Brumbies and look forward to the next update
Thankyou Orin James
VBA Teddy have had a very smooth sailing and enjoyable time during weeks 7 and 8! We have been repeating a lot of our work from previous weeks building Teddys Confidence, strength and Balance and fine tuning some of the ways we communicate especially when it comes to use of the aids under saddle. The past fortnight our sessions have been extremely inconsistent due to bad weather but
Teddy continues to enjoy each interaction and remembers everything I show him no matter how long it is between rides. We have been doing a lot of work on the ground and under saddle to improve his strength and balance including lots of trotting and Cantering on the lunge and some bending and obstacles under saddle. We are yet to have a canter under saddle as I just don’t think he is strong enough or comfortable enough to be relaxed and comfortable whilst carrying me in the Canter just yet. Maybe next week! This week Teddy and I have also had a couple of rides out of the arena and around the property. He has really enjoyed this change of scenery and had a real spring in his step each time we hack out. Teddy is teaching me so much and I feel like I’m a better horsewoman from the experience!
This last fortnight summer and I have been working in the arena. We haven’t ventured out just yet as I feel like she still need some fine tuning before we tackle that. She is currently ridden in a bosal and normally I would have transitioned her to a bridle by now but she had a fall on her face in the stables and hurt her mouth so we have been giving this time to heal. It’s only minor but she is very important to us and we want her comfort to be at the forefront of everything that we do. She is currently having her teeth done as I write this and it’s a real feat because she is happily allowing the dentist, who she has never met before, handle and have her in a very vulnerable position. She’s an absolute champion this little mare!
She surprises every day with how willing and capable she is of everything that I ask of her. We are making a real note to have as many people handle her on the ground as possible. We want to set her up so that she’s not entirely reliant on her and my bond taking her forward. We will be taking her to pony camp in the next couple of weeks and I feel like she is as prepared as she can be for this. She will be coming with a team of our other horses and I am looking forward to having her further prepared for her life after she leaves us! This whole experience has been so wonderful and I’m enjoying every step of it with her!
VBA Queen continues to progress very well. She’s beginning to show a real understanding of what’s being asked of her and follows through with such a willingness that makes her real nice to work with. The last two weeks have been a lot of short rides sometimes with another horse but mostly on her own. I would like to ride her out with others some more but that’s often hard to line up with the times I have available to ride. Yesterday Queen and I got a job to move some cows and calves over a few paddocks and she did a real good job at quietly bringing the herd together then casually pushed them to the first gateway and showed great patience when asked to wait with the mob for about 20 min while someone arrived to open some gates. In the next few weeks I hope to get her in an arena down the road “if it ever dries out” to start working through the paces. I’d normally just do this in a paddock but with the ground being very soft and inconsistent I haven’t worried about it.
Athena has progressed an enormous amount over the last two weeks. She can be rugged and unrugged in the paddock without a halter. She’s smart enough to know when the electric fence is on or off. Overall her personality is showing more and more with each training session. Being really pleased with how everything is going, her condition, her mindset and her attitude has been rather pleasant. She shows interest with the float and when approached by anything new, the fear is disappearing and is replaced by curiosity. She lets new people approach and pat her which is relatively nice to see. She absolutely loves her feed and will let you know when you’re late to feed up. Other than that, its small stepping stones and enjoying our time together. She still is flighty with anything fast approaching her face, which can be quick hand movements/gestures. She sometimes can be stubborn when walking into new areas. When given back scratches, she will scratch/lick you back, however you got to watch the little nip. With work, time and patience all these things will slowly be resolved, as many people know, horses tend to test limits. It just depends when they get away with it, the timing of correction and the consistency or training.
Dawn is starting to look like a different horse now with her beautiful dark chestnut coat blossoming through. She always enjoys her daily groom especially now that lots of her orange winter fluff has fallen
out. Ten days ago I decided to introduce her to a plastic tarp, she was snorty and quite frightened of this big, blue, noisy, weird thing at first. I was patient and gave her time to think, she is allowed to step away from scary things to keep herself safe. After some time of me just moving the tarp slowly Dawn realised it wasn’t going to hurt her, she let me crinkle it all over her body and drag it around her hooves. We also have a large exercise ball that Dawn is very interested in, she keeps a good eye on the ball and seems a bit wary but ok if I roll it along while leading. Later in the week we started going for small trail walks, sometimes I lead her walking or jogging beside her but other times I ride our older pony and lead Dawn alongside him. This is good for her to learn to be in a group and to be polite and respectful. We often see dairy cows, sheep or neighbors out walking and nothing is a big drama for Dawn. She is willing and happy to march along while always taking any opportunity to grab a mouth full of grass.
Unfortunately this fortnight I don’t have a great deal to report. I’ve had a very sick dog, and I’ve struggled for time.
Tango had a visit from the dentist. We established that Tango is 8 year old. Tango dealt really well with getting his teeth done. The dentist I use is well accustomed to Brumbies, and does a fantastic job. I measured Tango, he stands at exactly 13.1 HH. I’m still long reining Tango. He is going really well. I’m super impressed. He is developing muscle beautifully. I will back Tango next week. I also have another exciting outing organised for him.
Tango has been paddocked on his own and with other geldings since being here. His now accustomed to coming in and out of the day yards. When he first arrived he struggled walking through gate ways. Due to being gelded so late in life, he does show a lot of interest in mares. Tango has come so far, and I love seeing his changes each day.
I really don’t have to much to report this fortnight, Jazzy has had some well deserved time off, I think its very important to give plenty of breaks during training. This not only allows the horse to fully process what is asked of them during training but also allows you to see how they return to training after there time off. Jazzy had all of week 7 and most of week 8 off. During this time she was feed and checked daily quick pat hello and on my way. When I went to catch Jazzy during week 8 she was a little standoffish. Which I very much expected her to be. Once caught Jazzy she has her guard up to what I was doing or asking. Jazzy is super smart and it only takes her a few minutes to understand what is going on and accept new things. After about 10 minutes she was back to smoochie cuddley Jaz.
At the end of week 8 we started to do float training. I like my horses to self load into a float, I don’t like being in a float with them incase something goes wrong, Jazzy has previously been taught to give to pressure and to move around me on the lead so it was just another step adding the float. She was unsure at first but a quick sniff and she was happy to walk up and on. I Don’t normally use feed as a training tool, But when I float load I like to give them a hay net up the front so they see the float as a good place. The minute Jaz saw the yummy Lucerne hay she was in there tossing the net around to grab it out! She stood calmly munching away on her hay while I shut her in and walked back a few steps. It was a great way to end the week and start her coming back into some work after two weeks off.
This little brumby always surprises me, I struggle to believe that it was only two short months ago where she was cowering on the other side of the round yard. Its almost like I’ve got a different horse. These past two weeks have been particularly challenging as I have been very unwell and not in a position to spend as much time with her training as I would have liked. However, this has shown me how far she has come with developing her trust and bond. Even though I haven’t been able to work with her every day she’s still constantly improving.
Primmi had her first ride and as soon as my bum was in the saddle I knew instantly that I was safe. I felt as if I could do anything; jump around, touch her anywhere, maybe even stand up on her back and I knew that she wouldn’t have been fazed. Even though she had no issues with me on her back, our steering was a little rusty (to be expected) but the worst thing she did was walk quicker when she was confused. I haven’t filed her teeth yet as she’s still very sensitive and shy around her nose and face, so I have been riding off the halter. Ideally I’d like her teeth to be right to help her accept the bridle. Her steering isn’t always accurate with the halter but it is improving each ride which is all I can ask for. We may have only had three rides but we are already adventuring around the area, trotting and tackling some obstacles.
The last two weeks have been slowly progressive for Pirate and I, we have battled the relentless wind and annoying rain but still managed to move forward. While our earlier training was mostly getting to know each other and general handling, now our training has transitioned to building towards riding. All the little requests I ask Pirate from the ground are asked in the same way but from the saddle, keeping it easy for him to recognize the cues.
Following on from my first sit on Pirate about two weeks ago, we have had four 10-minute rides where he has tried his best to be obliging and calm. I feel so big sitting on 13.1 hands of him and this is another reason to keep his rides short and sweet.
I like to give Pirate a test drive before I swing a leg, this involves holding the reins in the same position as riding but walking very close to his near side. I then use voice aids and the reins to steer stop and start, this is just a short reminder for him and it keeps my mind at peace knowing he understands the basics.
To change it up for Pirate having to carry me around we have also been doing a few trails walks which he loves and some ground work including covering him with the tarp.
I am super happy with the little goals we are kicking together
Oh my goodness where do I even start! This fortnight has been an emotional roller coaster.
Flicka was doing really well with her training and then my new round yard arrived. Up till now we had done everything on line as I didn’t have a secure larger yard to train in at liberty. So we got this beautiful big round yard set up and I brought Flicka down and turned her loose. I walked away a few steps and raised my hand to point in the direction I wanted her to move, no more pressure than that.. First she stood there confused and then she just took off! The poor darling just couldn’t understand what was going on. She really scared herself and it took me a while to calm her down.
This really set her back quite a lot so the rest of the week was spent quietly rebuilding her trust in me.
We have since been back in the round yard but on a nice long lead and everything is fine, it seems she feels the halter and lead give her confidence and guidance. After the round yard incident I felt I had let her down so badly that I kept over thinking every move I made and was constantly searching for signs of discomfort and anxiety, most of which weren’t really there, she was just feeding off my emotions! I had a good chat with a beautiful friend who reminded me how capable I actually am and to get out of my own head more which I thought long and hard about. This week I had a fresh mindset and it has really proven to help!! I have been calm and confident with Flicka since and she has really exceeded my hopes for her. This week has seen me working from above her both on the fence and the mounting block. I started to teach her to step across and stand close to both so that I could lean over her back and get her used to my weight and movement above and ok her. She picked this up so fast and will now put herself right next to the mounting block without prompting! I have also sat on her both bare back and with a saddle, can swing my legs and move around on her back and flex her both ways. She really is such a smart beautiful girl when given the chance and asked correctly. We are ready now for our first real ride which will hopefully happen when the rain and shocking winds disappear early next week.
Although this week was rather uneventful, we worked on consolidating all the groundwork that I had introduced Rumba to over the previous 6 weeks. It was a week well worth doing.
With the work we did last week Rumba came into week 8 with a positive, curious attitude. This week saw us tick off a milestone with the introduction of saddling. Rumba found this challenging and her worry was showing through but with the trust and clarity she has in her groundwork I was able to help her let go of her worry and relax into the comfort of her work. We finished the week with a really positive experience, building Rumba’s confidence and hopefully setting her up to take on future situations she finds herself in with curiosity and softness.
The end of this week finds us at the halfway mark of The Brumby Challenge. I have been asked if I was worried about the time I’m taking Rumba, I said no. I came into this challenge with the intent to work at the horse’s pace and I feel I have stayed true to this.
Rumba is still enjoying her work sessions and is progressing each day, as long as we keep progressing each day and as long as we keep improving, I will be happy with how we are going.
This picture was taken on Thursday 15 th in our grass arena where I let Elsie out for the day with our 36 year old pony to enjoy the grass and warm sunshine. She managed to get her halter off which had and I was working on moving her back to her yard for the night. I wanted to test her liberty skills in a bigger area while I had her here to see if she would run off or tune on to me and follow my cues. She did have some big distractions being her buddy, lots of grass to eat, room to run and get away from me and next farms sheep making lots of noise now lambing has started. To my surprise she did lots of changes of direction as I asked, she faced up and when I told her it was “bed time” she calmly trotted back to her yard.
Training Elsie has been like putting together a jigsaw puzzle of different shades of blue. I must be very patient, I am thinking outside the box constantly, the lessons in the order I have often done with other horses has completely changed here. She has a halter on, she accepts being touched and brushed, she can stand still and relaxed with the stick and string going around her legs and over her neck and back, she knows to back up with my cues and is getting better each day to give to pressure. But…she will still not allow me to touch her face without trying to bite my hand. If I put too much pressure on in anything she makes is clear the answer is no. When you have a horse like this you become very creative in trying to work out how you can progress. Her halter was put on through the bars of our yard, having the halter on her has helped me to work with her more to help her relax and understand I won’t eat her. He fear factor is huge and this has been something I have had to work with very slowly. Helping her become confident with other objects touching her has allowed me to win her trust more and more. Every time I go to feed her or work her or just clean her yard I aim to use as a lesson. Allowing her to follow me around, playing games with her, sharing my apple while we stand in the warm sun. The paddocks behind us are glowing with the sight of bright yellow canola as far as the eye can see, each day the sunshine is warmer, the days are getting longer and winter coats are falling off where the glow of sleek coats are shining through.
Challenging horses make us better trainers, they teach us so much not just about how to problem solve and think outside the box but also how to be patient. Every little positive is a victory and a step forward. Life’s too short to focus on what you can’t control.
Week 7 & 8 … the fortnight of highs and lows … we started off great, Spice was ok being haltered
and we started working on leading from pressure on the halter, wearing a rug, leg handling and
really felt like we’d taken a big step forward.
Then … the last day of week 7, I added exercise boots to the mix. Spice was ok with me touching her
legs down to her hooves so I thought wearing boots would be a good next step. I had done some
desensitizing to the sound of Velcro ripping, but not nearly enough it turned out. The boots went on
ok, but the Velcro noise when taking them off gave Spice quite a fright.
The next session, Spice was a little apprehensive from the fright she’d had the day before.
Unfortunately, in retrospect, I was not in a great frame of mind (due to other non-horse related
pressures) and didn’t read the small signals that Spice was giving me that she was worried about
being haltered. So I basically ignored her and kept trying to put the halter on, as in my head she
‘should know this’, which meant Spice had to ‘yell’ at me that she was not cool.
She wasn’t aggressive or dangerous, but she left at speed and kept her distance. And then we were
back to square one.
This last week has been really tough, I’m so disappointed in myself for letting this happen and it’s
been a bit of a blow to the ego I didn’t think I had! I’ve been trying to reframe it in my head as –
what can I learn from this? Can I pinpoint when it started to fall apart (yes!) and can I think through
what I should have done instead?
I’ve also learned a few hard truths about myself, such as how it’s easy to be positive and enthusiastic
when things are going well. I’ve also noticed that my mindset keeps trying to revert to previous
horsemanship beliefs/strategies that I thought I’d moved on from when things stopped going to
The rest of the week I’ve gone back to just hanging out and sharing space with Spice. The first
couple of days she wasn’t that interested in being too close to me, but I realized I was still holding
the intention that I needed to get the halter on to keep on progressing. Once I let that go, and really
did just hang out with her, she seems much more comfortable – we’re not back to where we were,
but have made some progress none the less.
My goal for the next fortnight is to build back some trust with Spice and just see where that takes us.
I’ve come to terms with being completely on Spice time, and am trying to only bring calmness and
awareness to our sessions instead of crappy energy!!
Pic from before it all fell apart!
In the week following Flynn’s last report, I have continued and repeated our process three to four
times per day. In short manageable sessions. Flynn is becoming more confident every day. I have been going very quietly with him, he has been responding well to this and our groundwork has come along nicely. He's picking up all his feet to be cleaned out willingly although, he is still a little bit “grabby” with the hinds as we missed a bit of work here for a few weeks while his pasterns were a bit rashy. We do need to focus on my approach and his confidence. If he is approached slowly and quietly, he is always good. To walk up to him at a normal pace and put a hand on him still has him flinching away from me. I have had a few days off work this week, having aggravated an old injury to my back. So, this week has been limited a little bit but not wasted. There is still plenty of work to be done safely for him and myself. I have put aside further steps towards riding Flynn, not only because I'm a bit physically limited at the moment but I believe he needs to be 100% confident with me before progressing to riding. In Flynn’s particular case, we have spent a lot of time and focus on getting him using his near side. I believe this may have been a habit for him for quite some time protecting himself and going about his day to day in the wild.
For example, if I stand on his near side towards his flank, he cannot see me on the left. He will choose to turn his head right around to the offside to look at me over his back. We have been working quietly but consistently on teaching him to use his near side, turn his head that little bit further to see me on the left. He has clearly learned to have the offside as a dominant side which over the long term should not be an issue. But we need to take our time, or he gets quite nervous. I am continuing to teach Flynn what will be leg aids on the off and near side (with soft hand pressure) so I can teach Flynn to turn his body away from me to see me clearly on the near side and make that process more acceptable for him. I'm also focusing on patting lightly and then more firmly as a firm or sudden pat still makes him quite skittish. He's improved in several areas such as throwing a rug on him- quite literally- whilst he is eating with no halter. I still give him signs to let him know where I am such as touching his hindquarters especially on the near side before I do the straps up. He is quite confident with this process we just need to work on my approach getting “louder” and his keeping his confidence throughout this process.
Flynn has also been spending a bit more time with the lead pony. He lacks confidence with other horses so in one session I tired Coal up in the round yard and left Flynn free to roam and investigate for himself, in his own time. Coal is a very good boy; Flynn is not in any danger to approach and sniff him. I had Coal tied up so he would not approach Flynn before he was ready. This seems to be building his confidence. After testing this theory last week, I hopped on coal and was able to lead Flynn around a little bit and give him a pat. He was much more confident than he was two weeks ago. With a few more sessions in the roundyard I hope to be able to lead him around the property and the roads here as I have done with all my previous Breakers.
Flynn has also put on a fair bit of condition and is losing his winter coat daily. He is now thoroughly enjoying a good brush all over, even leaning into the brush with his rump and wither for a really good scratch. At times he has tentatively nuzzled me in an attempt to groom me back. This is a wonderful indication of his slow but steady acceptance of me under the right circumstances. Given this, we always end the session with a nice brush/ scratch, knowing he is content and whatever challenges he may have been unsure about can be put to rest. When I leave him these days, he always chooses to follow, showing he is not being left with any pent-up nerves or hostility from our session. This is very important to me.