Australian Brumby Challenge ©
It’s been 140 days since this fluffy little mountain brumby came into my life. I have to admit that when I received the paperwork and saw the estimated age for my assigned horse my jaw dropped. I had hoped that I would draw one of the young horses for the challenge not an older horse that had spent a decade as a wild stallion.
As the days and weeks have unfolded I’ve come to recognise and appreciate the maturity and experience that VBA Playboy has gained in the wild. He is sensible, intelligent and dignified, has impeccable social skills and is an avid learner. We have had our share of challenges, which are to be expected with a wild horse. He is vigilant, maintaining an independence, strength of will and self-preservation that kept him alive for years.
Witnessing Playboy transform, both physically and mentally, has been incredible. He has blossomed into a beautiful and well-adjusted horse. His body has changed dramatically as his condition and physical fitness have improved. Over the months his personality has really started to shine and his sweet, affectionate nature has revealed itself. At the beginning he came across as stoic however once he began to really trust and rely on me he started seeking out reassurance and connection. He communicates so clearly through vocalisations, physical contact and subtle expression. It’s absolutely heartwarming and unlike anything I have experienced in my many years with horses.
This week we went on a few more outings. Playboy became a dressage pony and we rode two tests at a local event. He still has only limited experience being ridden in a bit and English saddle however I thought it would be a great experience for him. He rode two tests and although they certainly weren’t perfect, I was very pleased with his efforts. Despite some penalties he actually scored well enough to receive a 5th placing for one of the tests.
Sunday we headed to Benalla Pony Club to give a talk about the Australian Brumby Challenge journey. We also took the opportunity to pop over some of the smaller show jumps (we were in a western saddle!) and followed a group out to explore the cross country course. Playboy was a champ amongst the pony club chaos! I was so impressed with his total lack of concern while horses were jumping large fences into water mere metres from where he stood.
During the week we had a few light rides at home in the arena and paddocks. Our focus has been primarily on revision and refinement of all the skills Playboy has been learning throughout his time here. Consolidating everything and polishing it up as best we can for Equitana.
We also took an excursion over to Merton Park to explore the beginnings of the new Mountain Trail course. It was a great opportunity to get Playboy exposed to some new obstacles. He was willing and confident on most of the obstacles and stayed responsive in moments when he was unsure. I took him at the speed that he needed and offered him plenty of reassurance and rewards for his attempts. The balance beam was a little bit challenging with multiple levels to step up and down. It took him a few tries to figure out where to put his feet. Basically Playboy just wants to feel safe and if he can be guided to find that security he will do anything.
Today Playboy had his new shoes fitted. My dad, Neil Harvey, has taken diligent care of Playboy’s hooves throughout the challenge. When he arrived his feet were large and flared. With careful attention they have gradually transformed, just as Playboy has!
Keep in mind Playboy will be up for auction at the completion of the Challenge at Equitana. Playboy will thrive with good, clear and centered leadership that provides reassurance and direction. If Playboy feels safe and secure he will do anything for you. He learns quickly, willingly and is full of try. He is very versatile and could easily become proficient at a multitude of events/disciplines. Playboy is a sweet little man who will endear himself to you in the most precious way. He is such a captivating creature with a heart of gold. If you have any questions about him please contact the Australian Brumby Challenge team or myself. All bidders must be registered by Friday November 16th.
As this is my last report I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the people who have supported Playboy and I throughout the challenge. It certainly takes a village to prepare a brumby for EQUITANA! Barastoc have been instrumental in Playboy’s transformation, supporting his nutritional requirements. There are so many individual people to thank that I can’t go into detail here, but I appreciate every single one of you! Special mention must go to my parents, Neil and Lorraine Harvey, my partner Richard Baron and Andrew, Sally, Kloe and Luke Soper. Your support and encouragement is humbling and has made all of this possible.
It has been such an honour to welcome and guide this beautiful, special soul into his very new life amongst humans. He lights me up every single day with his kind, quirky and sweet nature. The last five months are a gift that I will cherish and remember fondly. I’m really going to miss Playboy’s presence in my life. I get a bit emotional talking about it. I just keep reminding myself that the perfect human is out there waiting for him.
If you have been following along on our journey please pop by and meet him at the Brumby Village at EQUITANA!
For photos and videos of VBA Playboy’s journey please visit:
Thank you to Barastoc for supporting Playboy’s journey from Wild to Wonderful!