Australian Brumby Challenge ©
Wow just 4 weeks to go and I cant believe how far Levi is starting to progress. This week I got the saddle back on Levi and did a lot more halter work. Before I would ask him to go around me at liberty and he could kind of go around how he wanted. To start with in the halter he tried his run off things a few times and every time he would drag me around I put more pressure on him and as soon as he yielded the slightest I would yield fully. He only took a little bit of time before he quickly figured out how to be able to stop and go back to his relaxation bubble.
He became really good at being soft on the circle to the slightest pick up of the lead rope which he hadn’t really been before. So I kept working on that with him for the first few days of the week as well as saddling him up again. Just like the very first time I saddled him he had not a care in the world. Still no buck and that is because when he is saddled we aim for relaxation at the same time.
Levi got really good at letting me catch him in the smaller paddock where if needed I could just follow him up into the smaller yard so I thought it was time for him to graduate to the bigger paddock and test out our new catching and haltering skills. Well let me say the first time he cantered around for 5 minutes not wanting to be caught so I let him and then he decided that he new this game and that no matter what it always ends in catching so just as quickly as he said no to being caught he was then catching me in the paddock. The next day I just walked into the paddock and up to me he came. I was so shocked and happy because it is really starting to show the mental changes he is making towards me.
I ordered one of Vicki Wilsons Equi-calm hoods to try out on Levi just to see if I could help a little more with some of his anxieties and it finally arrived Monday morning. I was keen to get it on and try him in it. I wasn’t wanting it to magically make him better at everything it is just purely to try and help him reach calm without to much anxiety that he can build up over small things like walking through a gate way. For Levi walking through a gate is a very hard task, he finds it really scary and every time he would get through it off he would shoot and I would loose him around the paddocks again. I can say that it defiantly has helped him a bit. He still gets worried but he was really starting to work it all out.
I do have to say though his fear of other humans is his biggest. He is so great with me I forget just how guarded he is of letting people into his space. Lisa my beautiful photographer came out on Friday and Levi was out in the paddock free so that I could catch him whilst she was there to really put his confidence skills to the test. Well he wasn’t very confident with her being around but he let me catch him without to much fuss. But when she wanted to go up and pat him he just couldn’t keep his anxiety in check and off he goes on his little nervous dancing around me. Mind you this is a huge improvement, just a couple weeks ago and he would have just left off around the paddock. So we made it to the gate and through the first gate with a bit of a rush but he didn’t take off and looked to me for guidance which I really loved. Then we had to walk through a second gate to get to the round yard and as Lisa was walking behind him he realized where she was and that it was to much for him and then off he went. He didn’t take much at all to let me catch him but the sign of him having all that anxiety about someone being behind him is something we really need to work on. So having Lisa around I was able to use her to do some training exercises and instead of him just taking off once he passes her we worked on relaxation around her. He had to work and think through it a few times but by the end of a little session working on it he was 10 X better then what he was when he started. It was even better that when I got on him and was riding him around that when he would get just a little past her he would stop to try and relax which I really loved. So from seeing this behavior I know now what he needs work on most before he can make it to EQUITANA and that is more people exposure.
Another thing Levi now does is ride with a saddle. He walks forward when I ask and he turns really softly and smoothly, which is what I am always looking for. He has now been ridden a couple times in the saddle so he is slowly progressing with his ridden work, which I am really happy about. We also had a small float loading session on Friday afternoon for the first time and after a small amount of positive reinforcement work with him getting to step up on the float we managed to get both front feet in the float and both back feet on the ramp of the float. I was so so so happy with this progress as if I had tried this a few weeks ago I think it would have ended very differently.
All in all I’m so happy with the progress he is making and cant wait to just keep building on things now with him. I would like to thank all the sponsors again for everything and remember you can like my Facebook Page Briars Brumbies or my instagram for regular photos and updates at @Briars_Horses
Until Next Time,
Briar and VBA Levi xxx