Australian Brumby Challenge ©
The weeks are really starting to fly in! It seems like no time has passed since I’ve written my last update.
Moonshine is coming along really nicely with his riding. He has now had 5 rides. I start each time at the same point. The groundwork. It starts with catching, leading, grooming, lunging, moving forequarters, hindquarters and beginning to do sidepass. I go through all the desensitising and then repeat the process with the saddle on. All the time I am looking for holes, places where things aren't quite right. Looking for things that bother him or worry him or things he could do a little better. I'm not looking for perfection and I don't drill him, but if we just keep improving on little things every day then pretty soon we won't be far off.
The last thing we come to is the riding. As with everything it is a progression. If he won't stand still to be mounted we work on that until he does. Then we work on the lateral flexion on both sides, then disengaging. Then walking forward and trotting. At this point I'm not so bothered about where he goes, just that he does go. We haven't quite got the space to canter yet so that'll just have to wait a little while. However I have started working on getting his shoulders nice and loose. Asking for turns on the hindquarter. This once again requires the horse to put his weight on his hindquarters and slowly but surely builds his athleticism.
To do this requires a little timing. I open out my rein and lift it upwards and try to time it to when he is just lifting that front leg off the ground. At the same time I am putting my leg on the opposite side forward and against his body and releasing when he steps over. As with everything he is definitely better on his near side. But we'll just keep plugging.
On Saturday I will be taking Moonshine on his first outing, to a clinic that my host Georgia Kolovos will be running locally at a nice indoor arena. It's the perfect opportunity to take him to a new environment, where there will be lots going on yet nothing expected of him.
To do this however he will be required to travel on the float. He has of course travelled before. Three times that I'm aware of. Once from where he was captured, the next time from Brumby junction where we first picked him up and then again from the old property to the new one. The difference this time is that rather than being herded on to a trailer with no partitions and travelling loose, he will be lead on, tied up, have a partition put across and travelled like most horses do.
I like to be prepared for this kind of thing.
I have lead him on and off the float a few times before without much difficulty but I needed him to do a little more.
I have prepared him for this though and already had all the tools required to achieve it. The first one was leading well. When I first lead him on he was pretty nervous to just stand there and would back off when it got too much. I didn't stop him from doing this. But when he did get back out I would simply ask him to get back on again so the only place he was being left alone was on the trailer.
I decided to groom him in the trailer as he enjoys being groomed and relaxes when I do and as well as that he knows to stand still. If he did move I would do the same as I do anywhere else. I move him back to where he was.
Over time I moved him into the position I would need him to travel in, this is where disengaging the hindquarters comes in.
After being groomed he was a lot more relaxed so I started to work on the partition being moved across. I used the same principles I would on getting him used to anything. Start with it coming across just a little bit and get out before it got too much. Then wait for him to relax a bit. Then do it again going a little bit further, and again and again. Until I could swing it the whole way across. During this whole procedure he was never tied or forced to stay where he was.
When he was good with it I lead him on the trailer put him in position and closed the partition three more times.
This all only took about an hour and I would much rather spend an hour now, training him to load, than an hour forcing him to load every single time I want to travel somewhere.
As on Saturday I will have the whole day to work with him I’ll give him today off. Aside from a brush and I’ll load him on the float again to make sure tomorrow will go smoothly he can have the day to himself.
It’s nice to look back over the last 6 weeks and see how far he has come in such a short time.