Australian Brumby Challenge ©

Week 5

Day 29

I was very pleased with last week’s progress. Just to recap, we finished last week with the saddle blanket on and pressure on the girth.

Today I took Coolabah into the working yard, with a bare back pad (more a less a saddle pad with a girth permanently attached) and a saddle ready to go, hanging on the yard rail. After going through the saddle pad and girth again (as we did last week) I could see that he was comfortable and ready for the next step. So I put the bareback pad on, and again held the girth in my right hand and applied pressure while walking him off. He was very relaxed with this, so I did the girth up and walked Coolabah off. I like to stay with them when first girthing them up and NEVER turn a horse loose when tightening the girth for the first time. I had done the prep work with Coolabah so I was confident he will not panic when the girth is fixed for the first time. I believe doing a girth up and letting a horse loose (“and letting them work/ buck it out”) is lazy and potentially counterproductive. Coolabah was cool and calm as he walked around me. I asked for stop, walk and trot both ways on a big circle before stopping. I took the bare back pad off and repeated the whole process 4 or 5 times. I then put the saddle on his back, he felt he had to move his feet a little, so I went with this for a couple of steps, he stopped, and I took the saddle off. I put the saddle on and off a few times and once Coolabah was happy with the process, I took the saddle and bare back pad off. I put the saddle pad and saddle on and off from both sides a few times and moved him around me, keeping him close to me. Coolabah was nice and relaxed and took it in his stride, so I decided to do the girth up the saddle and lead him off again, going through the stop, walk and trot before wrapping it up and calling it a day.

Thought of the day: It was very tempting to get on Coolabah but there is always tomorrow!

Day 30

After a great day yesterday, I was keen to get Coolabah out and have another play around in the yard. After going through my daily ‘pre-flight’ checks with Coolabah (which I do when I am brushing; making sure there are no wounds, lumps, or sore bits), I decided to go straight back into the saddle work. We went over everything we did yesterday, and it seemed everything had sunk in very well. I then started the prep for mounting (which we have been doing little bits of since the beginning, like hopping up and down at the stirrup to imitate getting on). After doing this on both sides, and when Coolabah was standing nice and still, I went on to doing it with my foot in the stirrup. After 5 or 6 times of hoping up and down, I got half way up and over his back. He stood nice and quiet, but popped his head up a little higher than I like when he saw half of me on his right hand side. I slipped back off and repeated the process a few times, realising I still needed to do a bit of work above and over him. I did this from the mounting block by just spending some time being above and across him without the weight on his back. 10 mins went by and he was happy with me up there. I went back to getting up and half way across his back, he took a couple of steps and stopped, I got down and gave him a scratch. This was all repeated many times (without him walking off again) and I decided to leave it there. I unsaddled Coolabah and we went down to the creek for a nice pick on some ‘less brown’ grass.

Thought of the day: Not realising I had missed something that Coolabah needed (like easing into being above and over him) could have been a big set back with a horse like him, I’m glad I spotted it and went back a few steps!

Day 31, 32, 33, 34, 35

Coolabah came on leaps and bounds with 2 days of saddle and mounting prep. I would normally spell them after their first ride but decided this was the right time to give him a week off.

I know Coolabah hasn’t had the most intensive start and I knew I was going to be a little time poor in the first month… So from this week on he can get some consistent training. I can’t wait to start riding Coolabah.

Short and sweet this week! Thanks again for reading my update.

Mick

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