Australian Brumby Challenge ©
What a great first week it has been with VBA Moonshine. This fantastic looking chappy has shown himself to be curious, brave and smart. Three wonderful qualities for any horse.
Day 1 was pick up day, so when he got home he was left alone to settle into his new surroundings. By Sunday morning he seemed fairly content so I decided I could get started. I entered his yard and worked purely on getting him to look at me. Which wasn’t exactly difficult. This was achieved through lots of approach and retreat. When he looked away, I would approach him, when he turned towards me, I would back off. Within a few minutes he had this figured out. I then sat myself down and didn’t ask him for anything. I feel this is an important part of forming a relationship with a horse, so he doesn’t think that every time you arrive you are going to start asking things of him. He was content to stand fairly close to me with a cocked leg, licking, chewing and yawning. Before leaving him for the evening I offered him some hay from my hand which he cautiously accepted. A great start.
The next day was spent working on what we had done before. Approaching and retreating, then offering my hand. When he got the confidence to reach out and touch my hand I would back away again. Once again he quickly got the hang of this game and was actually telling me he had enough and was bored of it, as he would just start spinning in circles! Not the desired result but at least it showed his sure footed athletic side!
Day three of handling started with some quick revision of the day before. He remembered his little spinning trick so things had to change. I used a carrot stick (a metre long stick with string on it) to start to reach beyond his nose and get in contact with his body. He very quickly got comfortable with this and within a few minutes let me stroke his neck and stand close to him. I knew that I could then begin to work on the halter in the next session. I started by working on what he was comfortable with, the carrot stick, then me approaching and rubbing his neck, then rubbing him with the halter. Breaking down the process into little pieces I worked on getting him comfortable with my arm going over his neck, then under his neck and then rubbing up the other side. When he was happy with these things putting the halter on was easy.
I wanted to work on leading after this, however when I approached with the lead rope he decided it was too much! So I went back to what we had working, the carrot stick, then my hand until he was as happy for me to approach him as he was before. Then I sat myself down again and just had some time chilling out. He once again stood near me, sniffing me from head to toe. I had been forgiven.
Today (Friday, day 7), I was able to get him happy with the lead rope and started working on a little bit of leading, but before we get too much further I need to work on getting on his off side as at the moment he is only happy with me in his left eye.
So far it’s been a great experience and I think VBA Moonshine is going to be an absolute star. He proven himself to be willing to learn, forgive and try. What more could you ask!?