Australian Brumby Challenge ©
Twenty weeks of working with one of the toughest equine teachers I think I have ever worked with. Scarlett was described to me as “calm” the day I met her. Yes, she is calm and non-reactive but that calmness is her internalizing her feelings. I describe her as freezing, which is one of the four “f”s of horses reactions – flight, fight, freeze and feinting. Not many horses do feint when faced with something they cannot cope with but it does happen. There was a video going around facebook not so long ago that depicted a foal “having a tantrum” in a wash bay. That poor foal was not being a brat, it was so scared it could not move. Feinting is also known as catatonic immobility.
Scarlett is a horse that, without thoughtful training, would easily shut down and just comply with whatever was demanded of her. Because of this, her training has been somewhat slower than most (probably all) of the other Brumbies in the Challenge. She is not yet comfortable with other people around her, nor is she comfortable with even a very short float trip. To subject her to a six or seven hour trip to Melbourne, then expect her to cope with the crowds and atmosphere at EQUITANA at this stage, would do her more harm than anything else, so, to that end, Scarlett and I will not be competing. She will stay at home in her paddock, where she is comfortable. As disappointed as I am, it was a very easy decision to make, with Scarlett’s mental and physical well-being, being my first priority.
Her training will continue, at a pace that suits her. She may never make a saddle horse or have a “job”, and that’s okay. In my opinion, a horse does not have to be rideable or employed to be worthy. No horse is “wasted” if they are not being ridden. As long as they have the essentials in life – sufficient food, water, shelter, equine company and room to move, they are happy and don’t consider their life to be wasted.
I think Scarlett found her permanent home the day she stepped into the stock trailer to come home with me, twenty weeks ago. That was not my intention but I am a soft touch and have fallen completely head over heels in love with this timid, very special little mare. To that end, I have purchased her and she will spend the rest of her life with me.