Australian Brumby Challenge ©
This week has been one of acceptance for both me and VBA Moonshine. It was my aim to get him a lot more relaxed about moving and of objects and I’m happy to say both have been achieved. I find it difficult not to get too emotionally involved sometimes especially as it took considerable effort to gain his trust. But what I need to remember that I am there to give him the best possible start to his education , as I truly believe this is the best thing you can do for a horse, and that sometimes this means you can’t be best friends. For example when getting him used to things like me approaching with a lot more energy, this is understandably stressful for him and as a result he will lose trust. However when he realises that in fact I am not going to harm him he will gain trust. But in challenging him in this way it made him less keen to be caught unsurprisingly. So for a few days I struggled with what I was doing, but sticking to my guns he came around again and is easily caught and so much more accepting of everything I throw at him.
So as well as improving on his ground work in general and getting more relaxed in his movement Moonshine accepted his first saddle and rider. On Thursday evening after having put the saddle on him that morning I decided to do another little session with him with the saddle. He seemed to be in a really relaxed accepting mood. So without planning to I thought I’d have a little sit. I’d already been working with him off the fence so he was getting used to things above him. He reacted well to my foot in the stirrup and to my weight as I jumped up so everything was telling me he was ready. Up I got. Gave him a little rub and as I’d not even tied the rein around or had anything to document the moment I hopped back off.
Then Friday morning arrived and so I headed back out. Went through all the groundwork and a bit of desensitising both with and without the saddle. Everything was looking good so we had our first ride. He was very good about me getting on and with his lateral flexion on the left side. I knew he was going to be a bit up tight about his right side as he is with almost everything on that side to begin with. I kept him bent to the left until he relaxed, then with my leg and voice que, (a click) I asked him to disengage his hind end, when he moved I took my leg off, rinse and repeat, he quickly got the idea and was disengaging his hindquarters with little pressure from my leg and staying soft in the halter.
I let his neck straighten out and let him get a glimpse of me out of his right eye before bending him back around to the left, eventually I worked until he was flexed to the right and relaxed. I then asked him to disengage his hindquarters on the right side and he got pretty worked up about this. I got his head back around to the left and let him relax again. I continued to work on this until he would flex around to both sides relaxed, and once again worked on getting him to disengage on the right. He wasn’t as worried about it the next time although he was getting a little stuck. So tomorrow I will have someone on the ground to disengage his hindquarters to the right to help make this transition easier. All in all a successful first ride and it does feel like a special moment when this once wild horse allows you the privilege to sit on his back for the first time.