Australian Brumby Challenge ©
Well our last report .
This time next Sunday it will be all over bar the shouting .
This has been an interesting experience; in a way nothing extraordinary as people break-in and train unhandled horses all over the world every week of the year.
On the other hand tho it has been an awesome journey for me , and I guess also for VBA Ella .
When I was chosen as a late trainer selection I was confidant I could do a good job, but wanted to try a few different training methods . Easier said than done .
I found working mostly alone very challenging , and many times started to doubt my ability to give this little mare the best opportunity.
Ella was very protective of her personal space and I took her extremely slow which was a great lesson for me , making me just step back and be with her rather than having an agenda . Which was a bit of a contradiction- I had picked up my Brumby 2 weeks later than the majority of other trainers , now here I was just sitting on a stump in the yard with Ella doing nothing !!!!
I also found keeping the training sessions short seemed to work best, tho I spend a lot of time just being there doing nothing .
Week by week we slowly built a connection , got some groundwork happening , tried and discarded new feeds, ( lucerne was all she enjoyed) and I found oaten chaff , rolled barley upset her stomach.
I have never had a horse learn so quickly , I found if I gave her clear cues she usually picked things up by the second session . So by going slow she was learning fast .
I used a combination of methods - at first it was just advance and retreat, getting her used to me cleaning her yard , moving buckets, stepping towards her HQ and retreating when she looked around to me etc . For a bit of an experiment I also started playing with clicker training as well . I'd place a bit of lucurne under the ball or on the drum so she got a treat , and a click when she was inquisitive and found them.
Rain and slippery ground kept me from riding as much as I might have. In hind sight that may have been good . My old belief was that you need lotsa wet saddle blankets to make a horse ---- now I'd probably say Quality over Quantity.
I found the Brumby quite different to a domestic horse in lots of ways - need to get close to and build a relationship with the Brumby : the average domestic horse is already in your space by the time they are weaned . I found Ella took months to not be on high alert, & even bite at most strangers- Brums seem to be a bit one person ?
While Ella has absolutely no malice, kick or buck she will not be bullied or pushed around . We had one time we both got a bit emotional over float loading and she made it very clear that we both needed to take a chill pill .
At first I set out to expose her to a bit of a variety , eg stock work , jumping, trails, kid type antics , in prep for her new life after Equitana , but as time went on I became more and more attached to her and decided to take the Trainer Purchase option . Why ? Lots of small reasons I guess , she's been a real fun ( tho tough enough) pony to work with , she's a trier, she learns quick , and a real surprise to me is that she rides like a big horse. At 13.2hh she actually feels more like 15hh and girths up almost the same as my 15hh QH.
I think we will have lots of fun together in the future.
Are we as prepped for Eq as we would like ? No , but we have done what we could . We have had fun , done a few clinics, had some help from some good trainers , met lots of great people, had emotional and practical support from friends, family and strangers.
I am so appreciative VBA gave me the opportunity to have this experience, & so pleased I got to draw VBA Ella the little Bogong Brumby ; it's been fun , soul searching, challenging , rewarding , emotional, and satisfying .
See you all next week at Equitana :)