Australian Brumby Challenge ©
After getting a good response when introducing Coolabah to the halter on day 7, I was happy to pick up where I left off. In the morning, I briefly repeated everything I had done with the rope, and spent a bit more time on his right-hand side where he was least comfortable. I also spent some time scratching behind the ears and passing my arm under his neck to the right side, then giving him a scratch. When he was comfortable with this (and only when he was comfortable), I put the halter on. Because of the prep work we had done, Coolabah was happy to have me in all the places I needed to be to put a halter on. The halter went on and off nicely, and the process was repeated about 8 times, coming from different sides. This session took about 30 minutes, I left it there. I did another session with Coolabah in the afternoon and went through the haltering process again. There were a couple of times he went to walk away, but after he took a couple of steps, with me seemingly staying in the same position by following him, he realised there was no point in stepping away and stopped. I carried on, putting the halter on and off. When training any horse, my priority is to keep the horse I have in front of me engaged. So I keep the sessions short and sweet, as to not mentally flood them and shut them down. (You can get any horse to do anything by spending hours and hours with them and bombarding them, until eventually they shut down and ‘submit’… but I want them mentally engaged and interested, so they stay willing and continue to try.)
Just outside the working yard there is a small grassy paddock where I let Coolabah into, so he could eat some grass, chill out and just be a horse. As I went to give him a scratch he turned to give me a bite…. I pushed his head away, made myself big and then he moved away from me. He stood and looked at me as if to say “what’s wrong? That’s what I’d normally do to another horse when I haven’t had grass in 7 days!”. He soon came back up to me, got a pat and a scratch, then I walked him back to the stable for the night.
Thought of the day: “As much as I need this horse to be an equal partner there still needs boundaries. I still need to be the one asking questions and I must teach Coolabah to give me the answers I want. If he can’t give me the right answer, I’ll rephrase the question, or try harder to help him come up with the right answer.”
Coolabah got the day off while I went on a hay run. It’s very dry here and hay is becoming more and more scarce…
I had the full day off so Coolabah got lots of small sessions today, made up mostly of haltering on and off, and asking him to move around me at a walk, trot, back to walk and stop. This is all about getting the cues for the paces sorted so that it’s easy for him once he is leading. Again, Coolabah took it in his stride (well, after the first slightly bucky/ farty transition from walk to trot, he was good!) For the next short session we tried leading. I put the halter on first, then clicked the metal clip a few times in front and to each side before I clipped him up (people take for granted clipping up a lead rope to a haltered horse, but to these wild horses the noise under the chin can be quite frightening!) After some stalling at the end of the lead rope, he moved into the light pressure surprisingly nicely. I lead him in and out of the stable and the yard, and then over to the small grassy paddock. There were a couple of stops in between the gates to each different area, but other than that, he handled it like a pro. Kristen and I were mucking out stables at the very end of the day, when we turned to see Coolabah peering over his stable door looking a little bored. So, I decided to open the gate to the BIG paddock! At first Coolabah just stood still and starred at me, as if to say “Yes? What now, Mick?” So, Kristen and I showed him what to do... We ran out into the paddock bucking and jumping and having a blast, and soon Coolabah decided to follow. It’s about time we saw him burn off some energy! We left him to have some play time and came back after 5 minutes to see if he’d turned back into a wild horse. I walked towards him and I think he had the instinct to run away, but instead he came to me. In the bigger open area, he had become a fraction weary of me, but for a wild horse 7 days in training, I was happy. He followed me back to the working yard, I put the halter and lead rope on, and we went for a walk together out in the paddock. I quit there and gave him a nice big feed of some hay in his Woa Steady Neddy Hay Saving Net, and a little bit of Hygain Balance and Hygain Fibre essential to start him on his Hygain diet!
Thought of the day: “I’m thrilled he approached me out in the big paddock. That’s a great accomplishment and it shows he really trusts me. Trust is the foundation of our training with any horse.”
Sorry to disappoint everyone who enjoys reading my updates but due to work/hay runs/and Coolabah doing such a great job…
Was a day off
Was a day off
Was a day off
Yes you guessed it…….DAY OFF in his nice big paddock, whinnying every time I come past.
The days off still involve a little bit of hanging out in the paddock or stable. I’m going to try set up some lights at the working yard to be able to get a few sessions in at night.
Again, thanks for reading my update. Keep following for Coolabahs wild to wonderful story.