Australian Brumby Challenge ©
It’s been a pretty uneventful week this time for Moonshine. Unfortunately due to injury I was unable to get out to see him on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I managed to do some groundwork on Tuesday and was thinking of something new I could teach him as well as work on what we already know. It was good to just focus on our groundwork for a session because whereas normally it’s now a quick checklist to make sure he’s good to jump on, I looked at it with more of a critical eye, making sure our circles were as soft and straight as they used to be and how lightly I could get him to turn and change direction. We worked more on our side-pass, and especially on asking him to side-pass towards me and he’s becoming much more confident with that where it used to make him panic a little. During this session I also started to teach him to lead by a hind foot. This is a bit of a thinking exercise but it is also a very useful tool for your horse to have. I would suggest that before attempting to do this, your horse is in a safe environment such as a round yard and that they aren’t going to panic having a rope tied around their leg.
I tied a rope just above his offside hind hoof and took his halter off. Then standing a fair distance behind him I picked up on the rope until he lifted his leg. Then, using the rope I encouraged him to set it down further back than where it was previously. Building on this I would keep then tension on the rope and not quite allow him to set it down so that he would know there was something else he had to do to make the pressure go away. If he moved forward that was fine, he was still able to put his foot down and I would just keep the tension in the rope as even as I could until he stopped. This took him a little while to start to work out, but as soon as he showed any inclination to moving backwards I would release the pressure, just as I would asking him to back up under saddle. Reward the slightest try and he’ll give you more next time. Eventually he understood that he had to follow the feel of that rope and move his whole body backwards as a result. As I said, it’s a real thinking exercise and one I plan on repeating on occasion, because if one day he was to ever get his leg stuck in wire or something equally horrible, his reaction should be to follow that feel, stop and back up. It could well save his life.
On Wednesday I managed to have a little ride, nothing too spectacular, just a little ride around. On Thursday one of Georgia’s (my host and fellow competitor) friends, Maddy, was here and I thought it would be a good opportunity for Moonshine to have a different rider. It was quite funny at first, he seemed so confused to have a rider and see me on the ground. Even though I was stood outside the roundyard he kept turning to face me. He soon got the idea though and it wasn’t long before they were trotting around happily. Can’t pretend there wasn’t a little seed of jealousy at someone else riding my pony and him being cool with it! Have to be prepared for these things though!
This morning I took Moonshine out for a nice long ride with VBA Pandora into the local state forest. It was a beautiful morning was very refreshing to get out and about on my horse again and take the fresh edge of an easy week off of him with some good spells of canter and some steep hills. Looking forward to having a more business minded week next week!