Australian Brumby Challenge ©
It was a cold Saturday morning at Brumby Junction. After a long drive down from Braidwood NSW, and a slightly uncomfortable sleep in the back of the ute, it was finally PICK UP DAY. I woke up itching to see which brumby I had been given. After cracking the icy coffee cups off the sink in the woolshed and having breakfast with the other trainers, Colleen, Dave and their crew of board members poked their heads around the door and told us to get ready. So, everyone went up to the desk to sign documents and collect their brumby information packs. Getting the brumby info pack, was almost like winning a Willy Wonka golden ticket. Everyone had good a look around the yard, eyeing off their favourite brumbies. I had a few that I had my eye on, but the one I was given was probably halfway down my list! It was VBA Coolabah. I had noticed Coolabah the day before, calm in the yards, very brave and very solid, although he seemed a little too confident- which isn’t always a good thing… but what really blew me away was his silver mane and tail. What a stunning horse. I backed the float up where Colleen and Dave brought him down the race to load. After maybe two refusals, he was up the ramp and standing calmly on the float. A quick hand shake to Colleen and Dave and I was off on my way, ready for the 11hr journey back to Braidwood.
Thought of the day: “The Victorian Brumby Association has worked so hard to bring this all together, I admire their determination and professional they are in all their work at Brumby Junction.”
VBA Coolabah was standing confidently in his yard. He almost seemed a bit bored, but at the same time he was visually engaged in what I was doing. Normally, I would leave a horse alone when they first arrive and only go in to feed, water and clean up the poo. (It doesn’t matter if it’s a wild or domestic horse, they should all be given the time to adjust to their surroundings) ... Yet Coolabah seemed so interested in me that I decided to jump in with him for 10 minutes to introduce myself. He gave me a sniff on the hand, which was great, so I left it at that.
Thought of the day: “a good horse is always quiet but a quiet horse is not always good”
Coolabah got his full day off today, plenty of hay, and plenty of water buckets to tip over and stomp on.
Today I got a 30 – 40-minute session in with Coolabah after work. I got a glimpse of how confident he really is. For the first 20 mins I was just doing a bit of advancing and retreating so he would let me closer to him. As I was walking away from him to give him space, out the corner of my eye I saw him coming towards me. His head was down, his ears back and was basically rounding me up. I stood my ground and made myself big, then I side stepped to move his hind away from me and so he would pick his head up. It was a little intimidating, but that’s just what he’s used to doing. I worked on catching his eye, getting his front feet stepping out and then moving his hinds away. All the time, asking for movements and working with the movements he gave me. Coolabah worked well for the rest of the session. Today was about figuring out what this horse was all about, and I like the “wild” he has in him.
Thought of the day: “Coolabah is the type of horse that if you go in and try to ‘lay the law down’ then he would probably remove your head from your shoulders. He needs a discussion not an argument”
A short 30-minute session with Coolabah today. I worked on getting a little more into his space, and getting him to accept a pat him on the face, head and the start of the neck (on both sides). He was a little mouthy/nippy but never got his teeth out, thank god! I correct this by using my finger to push on his cheek, to move his head to where I would like it to be. As soon as it’s in the right position I give him a scratch. He soon came around to the idea of a face scratch, because it feels good! We played a bit of ‘follow me’ and then called it a day. Slow and steady. We also had a little photo shoot to announce our sponsorship from the HYGAIN horse feed team.
Thought of the day: “I want Coolabah to want to be with me, and you can’t force that. It takes as long as it takes”
I got a good hour in today, we worked on everything we had done in the previous sessions and Coolabah took it all in. He let me into his space nearly straight away and let me scratch him all the way to his rump and ribs. He seemed ready for something new, so I introduced the rope and gave him a rub on the face with it and put it over his neck. He was great with it, hardly a negative reaction or flinch, so I looped it over his nose, scratched his cheeks and he melted into my hands. I switched to the halter and placed it over his nose, which he didn’t like the first time but accepted it very well the second time I tried. I realised I had to do more work with him before I put the halter on, as he still seemed a little uncomfortable with my arm going under and around his neck. That just about took up the two-half hour sessions I did today. In the afternoon I hung out with him for a little bit in the stable while he ate some hay.
Thought of the day: “The last thing I want to do is jam or sneak the halter on, I have enough work to do to get this brumby to get EQUITANA, so I don’t need a hard to catch horse”
Another day off for the brumby, while I write up my weekly update.
I hope you enjoyed reading this! This is the end of a very promising first week with VBA Coolabah, I can see great potential in him.