Australian Brumby Challenge ©
What a phenomenal week it’s been for VBA Moonshine, it’s hard to even know where to start. He has for the first time been turned out in a paddock and so his new routine is to be brought in and given a feed on the yard. It wasn’t easy to convince him to want to be caught when he realised the new found freedom of a grassy paddock, so we built a little yard in the top corner by the gate where he could be pushed into and given a little bit of feed, then caught and brought up to the yard to have the full feed. After a few days of this he will now walk up to me to be caught and brought in for his breakfast. Then he spends much of his day on the yard, eating from a whoa, steady neddy hay-net watching all of the goings on of the day. This has done more for his confidence than any of the work I’ve done previously. Of course if I tied him up there as soon as he had a halter on it would’ve destroyed his confidence. He had to get to a certain point before he could be exposed to all of these things without shutting down. Now he realises that everyone, not just me, can pet him and scratch him and make him feel good, where he was wary of people approaching him this time last week, he now actively seeks people out for attention.
This has also done the world of good for his patience, the first time I tied him up he would be fine if I was nearby, however if went any distance from him he would get stressed and start pawing the ground. So just a little bit at a time, I would walk away, watch him paw, wait for him to stop and seem ok, and then I would come back and give him some love. Now he will wait patiently and without stress.
In terms of his riding he simply astounds me. I took him for his first long ride out last Sunday with a few other horses. We went down the road, past horses, and plastic bags, into the woods through winding paths, over large open paddocks, down really steep hills, over and through creeks and back up really steep hills. We walked, trotted and even got some canter, we passed dead things and kangaroos and wallabies. He was happy to take the lead, go in the middle or stay behind. He just blew my mind with how happy he appeared to be in his work. The next day I headed off down the road with one other horse. He took the lead striding out confidently, had long cruising trots and was getting better spells of canter. The next day we went back down the road again, this time getting really long spells of canter on a nice loose rein, and a real marching walk like he had somewhere to go, but not trying to run ahead or break into a faster pace, exactly what I want in a horse. Other days I’ve just ridden him in big open space, working on a nice feel and bend, hopping off, tying him up while I go do something, then jumping back on and maybe just stand around on him, watching other horses work or talking to someone. Yesterday I got on and just trotted off up the wide open paddock, he stayed straight and true to the direction I pointed him, walked with purpose, cantered with self-control and stood calmly under shelter waiting for the rain to pass. He’s only had 13 rides but already I trust him 100%. He really tries for me and looks to me for direction and comfort when he is unsure.
I try to give him a lot to do as well. When I started ponying him off other horses it became obvious that he was pretty wary of other horses near him if people were involved. So every opportunity I get I lead him along with another horse. If I’m going somewhere on the quad, I take him with me. I try to involve him in as many day to day activities as I can. When I have gotten a bit more technical control he will definitely be given a job helping to pony the other youngsters and horses here for breaking.
It just dawned on me this week that I’m going to have to part ways with him, there is no way I can keep him and the thought does not sit well with me. The connection I have with Moonshine is unlike any I’ve had with another horse and the thought of giving him up, even at just over a third of the way through, is heart breaking. I have never spent so much dedicated time with one horse in such a short period. The hours to get to this point are mind boggling and they have only increased as time has gone on. It’s honestly like he can read my mind, he knows what I want before I ask. That’s not to say I don’t have to teach him things, of course I do, but he is so good minded and trainable. If ever there was that one special horse you get in your life time, this is him for me.
For photos and videos of our rides this week, please have a look at my Facebook and Instagram pages, I’ve got some really good footage.