Australian Brumby Challenge ©
Our focus at the start of this week was getting Shyla confident to be caught in a larger area so she could be paddocked. On day 8 I brushed her while loose in the yard, every time I touched somewhere she wasn’t comfortable with she was able to move away, then return and face me to be approached again. Gradually over the hour I was able to brush most of her body while she stood quietly beside me, including her girth area, legs, and on her right side, which previously she hadn’t been comfortable with. Because she’d been able to leave every time she was uncomfortable it meant I essentially ‘catching her’ many times throughout the session and by the end she could be caught easily without a halter.
I hadn’t planned to start backing her so early, but on day 9 Shyla was so relaxed, I jumped up and down beside her for a few minutes, then lay across her back. She stood still, completely unfazed so I spent about 10 minutes laying all over her until I sat upright for the first time. Happy with her progress I let her go in the paddock for the night.
Next we worked on loading onto the float, which she did like a pro, and on Day 11 I backed her for the second time. Within seconds I was sitting up right and we asked for our first steps forward, something she was more than happy to give me. Pleased with her attitude, I led her out to a larger paddock, filled with obstacles, and we worked on stopping, turning and walking over logs and a bridge and we also got a few trots the length of the paddock – probably a 15 minute ride in total. All of this was just done bareback, in a halter as we like to use minimal gear in the early rides so there is nothing to distract the horses and I felt completely safe on her – she is by far the most uncomplicated and willing wild horse I have worked with and she has reached this stage weeks and months ahead of other wild horses I have trained.
The next day I rode Shyla in a saddle for the first time, walking out for a trail ride. When we got to the bush we had a few trots, but because it was almost dark we finished for the night having ridden for about 20 minutes, mostly at the walk. On day 13 we loaded Shyla and Ballarat on the trailer and drove three hours to Barmah National Park to spend two days camping under the stars with friends, and riding out in search of wild horses. I felt Shyla was ready to join in on the big rides and on the first day we rode for one hour, with four other horses - she was excellent, confidently walking and trotting under saddle. The next day we rode out with 11 other horses, for almost three hours – Shyla had her first canters and was also jumping over logs to 80cm.