Australian Brumby Challenge ©
VBA Playboy WEEK : 7
I feel that my last few weekly reports have been a bit repetitious. There has been a lot of repetition in my sessions with Playboy to establish the ridden fundamentals of flexion, softness and leg yields. Consistency and repetition are a prominent element of horse training used to develop, refine and solidify new skills and behaviours. Playboy has continued his slow and steady progression with flat/arena riding interspersed with days off and adventures to keep his mind and body fresh.
Earlier in the week he went on his first cattle muster. We work with our cattle using the same gentle and relaxed approach as with our horses. Playboy had been ridden around and through cattle in weeks 3 and 4 however this was the first time he was encouraged to move and follow the cattle. He caught on quickly and began automatically adjusting his speed and direction to track and rate them. Having grown up with Quarter Horses bred to work cattle I am familiar with this natural tendency in some lineages however I wasn’t expecting it so strongly in my little brumby. I did ponder if some of his years spent protecting and directing his herd in the wild were influencing him as his body language and method certainly resembled what I would expect from a herd stallion.
It was also our first ride out with another horse and rider. Although I have sat on Playboy in the arena giving a couple of lessons it is a different experience riding out over big paddocks and down the road whilst moving a large herd of cattle. Some horses can become unsettled with all of the stimulation or suffer separation anxiety if they get too far from the other horse. Playboy stayed steadfast, listening to my signals and happily taking direction even if it meant moving away or getting out of sight of the other horse. There was one moment when some fresh heifers startled him as they doubled back and ran past. I felt him tense, signaled through my left rein and disengaged his hindquarters. He settled quickly and we continued on without issue. It’s always such a pleasure to ride out on a horse that is soft, responsive and sensible!
It feels as though Playboy’s personality blossoms more each week and his sweet and dignified spirit shines even brighter. Rather than a specific impactful event it’s a culmination of tiny moments of expression and connection. He feels more and more “with me” in ways that are not expected of him or trained, they are simply his choice. The moments when he chooses to be with me rather than eat, to follow me or relax into a deep sleep in my presence. He is also becoming more confident with strangers. It’s heartwarming to watch and he is certainly stealing the hearts of those who meet him. He is happily approaching and interacting - realizing that I’m not the only one who gives good scratches and cuddles. At some point he will also realize I’m not the only one with the delicious food!
For photos and videos of VBA Playboy’s journey please visit:
Thank you to Barastoc for supporting Playboy’s journey from Wild to Wonderful!