Australian Brumby Challenge ©

Weekly Training Updates

Join April and VBA Playboy on their journey !

Week 1      Week 2     week 3    week 4     week 5   week 6     week 7

week 8      week 9     week 10     week 11     week 12     week 13  

week 14     WEEK 15    week 16     week 17     week 18     week 19     

week 20

April Harvey

VBA Playboy                                                                        WEEK : 6

Wednesday was day 40 of the Australian Brumby Challenge, marking four weeks since Playboy's first ride. It’s been an amazing journey so far!

It’s another slow and steady week for Playboy. Starting horses is akin to the artistic process. An artist, whether they are painting or sculpting, starts with the rough form. Broad strokes are used at the beginning to achieve a rudimentary foundation – basic shapes and forms that will be refined to develop balance and symmetry. Details then start to develop, gradually working down to the finest elements.

Broad strokes for Playboy meant getting him moving his feet and beginning to direct that movement in the first week of riding. We progressed to directing his movement within different environments, through and over different obstacles. This cultivated more accuracy and responsiveness to my cues, building confidence and trust. During his third week under saddle we began refining basic leg yields. This week I’m moving and directing his feet both forward and laterally whilst also asking him for softness and specific flexion throughout his body during those movements. Breaking everything down for him to understand into small, individual pieces of forward, yield, softness, flexion then consolidating those pieces when he is ready and asking for them simultaneously.

If I'd skipped the broad strokes of forward and confidence building at the beginning, instead asking for the details of flexion, lateral movements and softness, Playboy would have become overwhelmed, confused and frustrated. Having a few weeks of initial experience, I can now take the time to fine tune and set him up mentally and physically for more correct, balanced carriage and manoeuvers. Most of week six has simply been fine-tuning those walking and trotting elements, slowly building suppleness and strength. Ten years in the wild is a long time for a horse to develop movement patterns and corresponding muscle structure. Through slow, steady repetition some of those old patterns are shifting and Playboy is learning a better way to carry a human.

Playboy’s sweet personality continues to unfurl as his comfort and familiarity with his new domestic life sinks in. He LOVES his food and keeps me updated with a very sweet whinny if I’m a little behind schedule at feed times. This week Playboy received his package from McDowells Herbal Treatments and I introduced the Equigesta – Pre to his Barastoc Complete Performer muesli. Thank you McDowells and Barastoc for your generous support!

A lot of artists will say that an artwork/piece is never finished, there is always space for more detail and refinement and I believe the same applies to horses!

For photos and videos of VBA Playboy’s journey please visit: