Australian Brumby Challenge ©
I am blown away with the change in Levi since day 1. Yeah he still has a way to go before EQUITANA but the very flighty reactive horse that stepped off the stock crate 50 days ago is all but a memory. I can now pat down both sides of Levi rub him all over his face and can set the halter up for him to walk into himself.
This week we did a lot of work building up to touching down his near side. I could touch all down his off side but his near side was side he wasn’t too comfortable with. So at liberty we worked on more shoulder control so that I could move his shoulders over so that I could get him to present me his near side. After a little it of work at this on Saturday he really started to open up to the idea of me being on his uncomfortable side. We slowly introduced my touch again. As soon as he would try to touch my hand with his nose I would back off and show him that if he try’s just a little to be brave towards me then I back off and he gets his food reward. I also had to teach him on Saturday that he could in fact eat his hard feed straight out of my hand. Prior to using his dinner or breakfast feed as his reward I had been using grass. The grass when he wasn’t feeling quite confident he could just take a bit and not actually touch me, but with the food he has to actually put his mouth down into my hand first to even be able to get any food. Once he realized what he had to do and that there was food on the end of that, he was all for the contact. Since the first week Levi has loved his food so food rewards have really helped us build more on his confidence.
I have also spent this week to inadvertently work through being above Levi and riding another horse around him. I reintroduced Esther to the equation and started riding Esther beside Levi. Now to start with Levi would get worried and shoot off when we would be beside him but after couple of days working through it Levi became confident enough to ride right beside us at a walk or slow trot. Esther being there has helped him grow his confidence quickly. There is a thing about Esther and I always tell everyone that she is my lead mare and whenever I have an uncomfortable horse or a horse that isn’t confident around humans then they go straight into the paddock with Esther. She is a great confident leader and I can work with her at complete liberty so this helps not having to add extra gear to the equation around the already nervous horse. In the end we got some great work and I was happy to leave him there till I do more riding preparation work with him.
I have decided to change my direction with Levi a little. I still plan to give him his first ride completely at liberty but I now plan to halter him and get him out walking around the farm before I decide to prepare him to be ridden. I feel that getting him out and about will really help build his confidence towards me and the things in this domestic world around him so that when he is being prepped for his first ride, it will be a calm and confident first ride. It will also help by getting him out of his small yard and show him that we can go on fun adventures. So in changing this direction we have spent the last half of the week really preparing Levi for his first halter. Using a lot of positive reinforcement I can hold the nose of the halter open and Levi will actually walk across his yard to come and put his nose through it. For him that is a huge improvement. I can rub the halter down both sides of him and even have the halter resting on both sides down his neck. I can also move the halter up and down his neck towards his ears and back down towards his wither.
Friday we had our amazing photographer out again to take some more great shots of Levi so I revisited our liberty leading and the cue to get him to start coming forward to follow. I haven’t done a whole lot of following work for a couple of weeks because we have been working on other things but now with his confidence in me being a lot stronger today he actually was following me at the distance I like them to be at when there are at the advanced stage of liberty training. This for me really showed me that he is growing more and more confident as the weeks go on and that makes me even more excited.
Remember you can follow Levi and his day-to-day antics at my Facebook Page Briars Brumbies. I would also love to thank my new sponsors DYNAVYTE for coming on board and sponsoring Levi with their amazing products for the duration of the event. I have used their products for a very long time and love how they help our horses through the inside out.
Until Next Time,
Briar and VBA Levi xxx