Australian Brumby Challenge ©

 April Harvey

VBA Playboy                                                                        WEEK : 9

Playboy has been getting at least one day off per week since his first ride however he had half of this week off. It was good to give his mind and body a rest with a few consecutive days respite and I think he enjoyed it!

I’ve witnessed Playboy run in the paddock when he’s spooked but this week was the first time he really let loose in a playful way. I moved him back into a big paddock where he lived earlier this month. It has a dam, a few acres of flat pasture and a section of trees at the back. He galloped two laps full speed neighing and bucking before screeching to a halt, flamboyantly jumping up in the air a few times and nonchalantly lowering his head and continuing to graze as if nothing happened. I think that he is feeling good with his great diet and improved fitness and strength!

His first ride after the time off was out across the property and down the road to move cattle. This was his second time out with another horse to move cattle and he was wonderful the entire time. He is developing into a handy little horse - navigating the creeks, ditches and road confidently with no signs of separation anxiety when leaving/being left by the other horse. He even rode up into the holding yards amongst the cattle. Some horses find being in a confined space with cattle intimidating but Playboy was fairly comfortable to stand quietly and move the cattle when directed.

Our progress in the arena continues. It’s incredible to think that in two months Playboy has undergone this metamorphosis from unhandled wild horse to fun riding partner. He really tries to please and once he understands a movement/manoeuvre he does his best to offer it when requested. Occasionally he will express himself with a cranky little headshake which indicates that he is confused or finding something difficult mentally or physically. It’s important that I have empathy for him, consider his perspective throughout our interactions and adjust my approach accordingly. Most conflict with horses is avoidable and unproductive. It’s simply a breakdown in communication. I need to check that my cues are concise, that the foundation or previous steps for the requested manoeuvre are solid and/or be prepared to take a step back and give him more time to develop if that is what he needs.

Last week I mentioned Playboy had been stronger and more balanced to the left. This week he is excelling in a couple of exercises to the right that he had found difficult until this point. It is nice when a horse’s “better” side alternates and the imbalance diminishes as they start to develop more symmetry.

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


Thank you to Barastoc for supporting Playboy’s journey from Wild to Wonderful!

Weekly Training Updates

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