VBA Website link

Australian Brumby Challenge ©

Michael and Honey - Week 4

In my last post I mentioned Honey was having some time off. So just a short post for this week…

Day 22, 23, 24: were her continued 4 days off. I did have to hold myself back from going into the paddock to do a bit of work with her (but I resisted!). She was in a 2-3 acre paddock with a companion horse.

Thought of the days: “Still cold and miserable, hopefully I get some sunshine and good weather by the end of the week”

Day 25: The local vet has been out here all week doing dentistry check ups on the 20+ other horses at Mona Farm. After having a chat with the vet about the abnormal twitching of Honey’s ear, we have put the cause down to either an allergic reaction to rye grass, or something in the ear. We decided not to sedate her at the end of the day as it was getting cold (and a horse’s thermoregulation doesn’t work properly when under sedation). We then thought it was a better option to try ruling out the rye grass theory first- so I am cutting out all rye grass from her diet to see how she changes over a period of time. During her training session today, I worked on lots of flexion left and right, trying to get a nice fluid curve from her poll to her dock. When she was nice and relaxed I reintroduced the saddle blanket and girth (just putting the blanket on and off each side, and reassuring her with rubs on the neck). I girthed her up again and turned her around me, so she can move freely while I am in a safe zone (incase she reacts). There was no need for a bad reaction on her part, because I did lots of preparation to get to this point. I led her around for a minute or two and then sent her out on a lunge. If she was going to be bothered about the blanket and girth, it would be now- when she is further away from me. I worked on lunging and bending her left and right, and if she got a little bit nervous about the rug flapping I just turned her in towards me, and sent her in the opposite direction. Every time I lunge her I start at a walk, then a trot, back to a walk, then stop a few times, and turn her in towards me. This gives me good control of her, and teaches her not to rush off. As soon we finished, I took the girth and blanket off and put her back in the paddock for a feed.

Thought of the day: “just because the steps are small, doesn’t mean it will take longer to reach my goal”

Day 26: Another day off for Honey! Just wanted to give her a day to absorb everything yesterday. Also gives her some thinking time before I strap half a dead cow to her back (i.e. the saddle).

Thought of the day: “I think tomorrow is a good day to put the saddle on”

Day 27: I took Honey out her paddock and straight to the wash bay, and gave her a good scrub and a check over before putting her in the round yard to dry off. Once dry and brushed, I put the saddle blanket and girth on, girthed her up, and moved her around a bit. For the last 2 or 3 sessions I’ve had the saddle sitting on the round yard rail so she could go and have a look/ lick/ chew at the saddle whilst on a break from training. I do this so the horse can have a look if they want, and importantly, go up to it for themselves. I then took the saddle off the rail with the stirrups tied above over the seat. I tied the stirrups up to start with, as it minimizes something bad happening in the first experience (i.e. stirrups hitting her on her sides). I let her feel the weight of the saddle, un-girthed with my hand holding the saddle and moved her around, yielding her hind and flexing her neck in the process. She was comfortable with all this, so I continued with the other side and put the saddle on and off a few times. Once she was comfortable with that, I then removed the girth from the blanket and attached it to the saddle. I did exactly the same with the saddle as I did with the saddle blanket. I put the girth on and cinched it up as normal, and then moved her around me. After letting her walk and stretch out I tightened the girth up, then moved her around me while reassuring her, and walked her on a close lunge. She coped very well with this, so I undid the stirrups and recreated (at a stand still) every scenario that could happen i.e. stirrups flapping, making noise, and tapping on the saddle. She coped with this very well too, so I moved on to leaning over the saddle- as much as I could with my feet still on the ground. We did around 25mins of this in the round yard. I then decided to call it a day, and finished on a good note. I lead her out and over the bridge for a walk and a pick on some grass, put her back in the paddock and gave her a feed.

Thought of the day: “What an incredible little horse”

Day 28: I brought Honey into the yard and noticed she had slightly heavy breathing and was looking a bit lethargic. So our vet Greg Gilberts called round to have a quick look. Honey gets another day off to overcome not feeling 100%. Only two days of training this week, she accepted the saddle very well and I’m very happy with her progress at the end of week 4.

Thought of the day: “The vet also had a look at Honeys teeth. I thought she was around 5 or 6 but her teeth tell us she is 3.5 to 4 years old!”

Thanks again for reading!

Go to Michael's Week 3 ... week 5

Go to Michael and Honey's Page