Australian Brumby Challenge ©
This week Moonshine has had the job of taking other ‘greener’ horses out on their first rides in the bush. He has actually turned out to be perfect for this job as his straight forward confidence and willingness to listen to me when he is unsure means he gives the other horses confidence to follow in his tracks. He fills me with pride in how he conducts himself. I have made a few videos of our rides out and put them on my Facebook page for anyone who is interested in seeing them.
We had a visit from bodyworker Michelle McDonald this week and I thought it was the perfect opportunity for Moonshine to have a proper once over to see how his muscles and body were holding up after six weeks under saddle. I was delighted to hear that this tough little pony was in near perfect condition despite the miles we’ve been putting on the past few weeks and was extremely relaxed after his massage. He definitely made a friend in Michelle. I would expect a horse at this point in their training to be a little sore here and there, from the weight of a rider, the saddle on their back, the bend in their neck and having to use their hind end more than what they are used to. I think a combination of good tough feet, confirmation, sturdiness and a solid step by step training plan where everything is built upon in little steps and relaxation through the body is key have made a big contribution in keeping him sound and happy along with a nice dash of luck of course!
This week we have also begun getting used to the snaffle bit. To this point we have been riding in a hackamore and whilst this has been going really well and he is nice and responsive in it, at some point in his future he is likely to be ridden in a bit and so I want to educate him about it. Like everything this is done in a step by step fashion. His first reaction was to try and back away to avoid having it in, I just stayed with him until he stopped and took it away again. I repeated this until he didn’t feel like he needed to step backwards. He then simply let me put it in after encouraging him to open his mouth by slipping my thumb between the gap in his teeth. I like for the bit to hang a little and put little or no pressure at all on the corners of the mouth. It’s quite comical the first time you put it in to watch them chewing on it wondering what the hell it is. I then left him tied up for a few hours getting used to how it feels, he can chew, lick, put his tongue over the top of it, eat from a hay net and ultimately learn to simply hold it. After a few hours he was contentedly stood with it without fussing. This morning I did the same thing and I will put it in again later on and ride him, although I will still ride off the hackamore and just let him get used to it being in his mouth while we are working. After a visit from the dentist, hopefully in the next week I will begin to ride him off it, using the hackamore for backup when he is unsure. This will make for an easy transition to another important step in his education.