Australian Brumby Challenge ©

Week 6 with Cooper and Lara Beth - Saddle up

 By the end of this week it was time to saddle up. Coopers halter work is beautiful, he is working well in the long reins and continues to search for solutions, even when he is not quite sure of what I am asking him.

Getting halter work smooth and beautiful

Repeating Coopers halter cues this week had been a priority, because I when introducing a saddle I use the cues that Cooper is already good at. Inside bend/ move the hindquarter, walk away and lead.
Repetitions are what teaches a horse to be solid in their understand of what we ask of them.

While repetition is important that does not mean that halter work should become repetitive‚Ķ Repetition is about changing it up while keeping the cues the same, new places, new sounds, new gear. That way Cooper can learn to trust in my instructions no matter the environment or circumstance.  

Finding solutions

Cooper has had a noticeable change in his confidence when working with me this week. He has learnt to pick up his feet and allowed me to trim the wings off his fronts.

He has always been very good at searching for solutions to the cues I present him, so long as I present them carefully and consistently.

This week Cooper is coping better with less precise cues, he is developing a mindset that there will always be a solution he just has to find it. This is important at it means Cooper is less likely to become reactive and take flight if he becomes confused or overwhelmed.

I first noticed this early in the week when I introduced an outside rein to our long rein work, and there was not a single moment when Cooper thought he wanted to leave or get away from me. Even when I got a little greedy and asked for some lateral movements in the long reins Cooper kept trying until he found the solution.  Check out Coopers long reining videos @Brumby Diaries Lara Beth.

Is it time to saddle up?

When a horse confidently looks for solutions even when put in a difficult situations, I know they are ready to saddle up.
The first time a horse wears a saddle there is every chance he may feel trapped or become confused about the new feeling of pressure around the back and girth. By using exercises that Cooper already understands and teaching him to search for solutions Cooper's first saddle on Thursday was a non event. He calmly accepted the saddle even licking and thinking while I did up the girth for the first time. - He is such a clever brumby.

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