Australian Brumby Challenge ©
When I started writing this update I wrote everything I'd done this week. Quickly I realized that I would end up with a short novel!! Not wanting to bore everyone I have tried to condense it, while leaving in all the important things.
Aussie has progressed phenomenally this week. I had intended to arrive Sunday arvo and leave Tuesday. I arrived at @ 4:15 on Sunday and after spending an hour, broken into 4 sessions and starting outside then progressing into his yard, I had gathered a fair assessment of his start point. With a bit of surprise I organized to stay until Wednesday. It was important to me that he was lead on the float not wild horse loaded.
Monday was a big day. It was just before 5pm when I finally put a halter on him. Once he was comfortable with this, it took @ 10 mins to teach him to lead. Having decided the best way to positively reinforce leading was to go for a pick. 25 mins later we left the yard. When brumbies have been in a yard for long periods they often struggle with the fact they can go through the gate. We spent about 15 mins out ( it was getting late) and picking consisted of me picking the grass and feeding it to him. I fed him in a hay net as he would need to be comfortable with one for floating home.
Tuesday morning it took less than 30 seconds to walk through the gate. The important thing about Tuesday was getting him comfortable with me and also all the components that go with float loading. So if you break it down there is 1. The float itself. 2. The noise and step up of the ramp. 3. Walking into a darker enclosed space. 4. Walk calmly backwards.
We picked and wandered around the obstacle paddock until he was picking the grass himself!! Then after him becoming comfortable with the smaller obstacles, he was introduced to the bridge (point 2). When he was comfortable with this we had a break. After lunch I put the car and float in the paddock. When we went back out we walked around the float/ car ,with ramp down, stopping every lap to get a handful of hay from the tack door. When he could do both directions without noticing the float we walked towards the ramp a few times. Standing calmly in front of it. He was never asked to step on it at this stage. But he was asked for a step , then two, backwards to move away from the ramp. ( points 1 and 4).
On Wednesday heading back in after a pick we walked into the shed ( point 3) put a bale of hay in the wheelbarrow and pushed it back to the yards. Later a race was made and the float backed up to it. Aussie and I calmly lead on the float one step at a time. He also stood calmly with me while Colleen closed up the back. We arrived home @5pm and settled in. Thursday and Friday were both settling days where he picked grass and got use to his new environment.
NB. Aussie was in need of a leader. Someone who would say its ok I've got this. Someone who would stand calmly when he reacted, calm breeds calm. We will be friends soon. He is quite an amazing horse.
There are 3 main reasons Aussie progressed so far.
Consistency – consistency in asking, in answering, in noticing.
Persistence - I am there everyday rain, hail or shine. Always around.
Paying attention – The thought of moving, the bend of a knee needs to be noticed and rewarded. If you notice when your horse is trying and reward by releasing pressure, then the horse learns the correct answer. They also learn there is always an answer to the question.
Next week is going to be a slow read. As Aussie progressed so quickly this week it would be easy to keep going, new things everyday etc. However he doesn't have a strong foundation. It is his foundation that will make him a solid horse in the future. So next week is all about going right back to basics, doing all the repetitive and boring stuff.
Thanks for your time. Jenny and Aussie.