Australian Brumby Challenge ©
VBA Bago week 14
To begin the week, I worked on float loading with Bago, on the first session I was impressed with how well he was able to think about the situation and work out what I wanted him to do. I used lots of approach and retreat to teach Bago to load, I walked into the float and held a small amount of pressure on the rope and as soon as Bago stepped on the pressure and onto the float I released. Each time Bago stepped further into the float I would walk him away and allow him to have a graze. This made the session enjoyable and gives him time to process and see when he is on the right path. Within half an hour Bago was all the way in the float standing calmly with me. Loading into the float presented less of a challenge than unloading. For Bago to get out of the float he had to back down the ramp, this meant that he had to trust me and himself to step backwards down a step. He did struggle for a while but after some persistence he was able to step off the ramp. This was where I finished the float loading session, it was a positive note to finish with. Following this I did a bit more work on Bago’s yields, both his hindquarter and forequarter yield are getting really strong and backing out of the float showed that the backup is nicely in place. I continued to work with picking up Bago’s feet and this has become a real priority as he needs his feet trimmed. I also worked on Bago’s circling on a longer rope and he had his first trot. His sides are getting more balanced and equal in strength. We finished the session with some work on tying. I looped a 22-foot rope over one of the round yard rails and stood at the end of the rope. I find this is a good way to teach horses to tie because they do not know that I am holding them but if they panic I can offer a little release, so they do not get hurt. Bago picked up on this very quickly and will soon be able to tie up for real.
In our second session for the week I continued to work on float loading, this time with the divider in place. I used the same method of pressure and release to motivate Bago to step further and further into the float. Soon he was in the float and standing calmly with me. On the third session I put Bago in the float with my horse Thowra. I did this because I am taking Thowra to a clinic next week and if all goes to plan Bago will tag along for an outing. They loaded in happily together and were able to stand in the float without too much trouble. During these sessions Bago’s confidence has developed in unloading, he is now comfortable with stepping off the ramp backwards. There are more aspects to floating than just loading into and out of the float. We have worked on swinging the butt bar back and forth so he can get used to seeing it, I have had family members clap their hands when they are around the float to get him used to hearing noises that he can’t see the source of, and I have been stomping my feet while in the float, causing it to makes a similar noise to what it will when he is traveling. All of this is done with the aim of having Bago as prepared as possible so when he goes on his first trip it is as familiar and easy as possible. Over these sessions I have also worked on tying Bago and picking up his feet. I can now tie him to the round yard panels and his prior understanding of pressure and release has made this easy for him to understand. I am able to pick up and hold both his front feet, I can rub his back legs and over the course of next week will begin teaching him to pick them up.
Next week I will take Bago on his first trip in the float, hopefully take him to the clinic and continue working with his feet and other handling skills such as yields and tying. I am also beginning to plan what our freestyle for Equitana will look like and include.