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Australian Brumby Challenge ©

Michael and Honey - Week 5

Day 29: Another slow week here at Mona Farm. Honey was still not 100% so she got another day off. Now seems like a good time to start my ’day on, day off’ routine.

Thought of the day: “Honey is becoming more and more attached to me every week, as I am to her. It’s going to be a hard one to let go at the end of the challenge”

Day 30: Today I started off with the normal brush down and went through all the ‘pre flight checks’. Every week Honey is becoming increasingly softer moving off the pressure from the halter. Her head carriage is just about where I want it, and she is softening from poll through to her dock. I want her to be flexible, to lessen the chance of hitting any ‘sticky spots’ when riding her. After warming up and loosening up all the important muscles in her body, I went ahead and put the saddle on. I carried on with moving her around me and basically going over all the previous ground exercises. She is very relaxed with the saddle but seems particularly aware of stirrups flapping on her right side. I did some work with the stirrups on the right side i.e. looping the lead rope through the stirrup and moving the stirrup while moving her on a lunge around me. I then concentrated on her walk/ trot transitions, making sure she was smooth and not rushing or anticipating things before I asked. We continued for around 25 mins then stopped for a rest. I felt now was as good a time as any to put some more weight on her back. I flexed her to the left, put a foot in the stirrup, lay across her back and rubbed her and reassured her. I did this from both sides and then called it a day. I was happy with the way she accepted everything and didn’t feel the need to push any further.

Thought of the day: “It’s interesting that now Honey has become more ‘domesticated’, she seems more comfortable with things happening on her left side rather than her right.”

Day 31: Now I have started my day on/ day off routine with Honey. So... a day off for Honey.

Day 32: Today I decided to do some leading with Honey off a lead horse. One reason for this is that I believe it’s good to be above the horse you are training before getting on and riding for the first time. The second reason is simply that I want to be able to lead her from another horse. She was reluctant to start with and wasn’t sure what to think of me being up high and still asking her to lead. To start with all I wanted was for her to give to the pressure from the lead, and forget where I was. I didn’t care if she was at the end of the lead rope, as long as she was moving her feet in the right direction. Once she was comfortable with moving her feet, I then worked on her position. I wanted her to be closer to me, with her head at my knee. It took a bit of moving backwards and forwards and turning to get her there, and once she was where I wanted her to be, we stopped. I just stop and sit, so she can figure out where the most comfortable place is to be (which is next to my knee). She was a little intimidated when I first tried to pat her on the head from on top of the lead horse, but became more comfortable with this towards the end of the session (still far from perfect). I then got back on the ground and started the process of getting on her bareback. I do this in small steps, which are hopping up and down as if I were getting on, brushing my stomach against her side, and when she is relaxed I move onto laying over her back. Whilst laying over her back I rubbed down her neck with my hands and over her rump with my legs. I do this whole process a few times before swinging my other leg over and sitting upright. All I want at this point is to be able to sit up on her back, and flex her neck left and right in the halter. I achieved this in today’s session, so I quit there.

Thought for today: “Thanks for letting me borrow your horse Kristen!”

Day 33, 34: Yep you guessed right…. 2 more days off. One rostered day off, and on the second day we had some things to take care of in town.

Day 35: Since I had done all my pre-ride training over the last 4 weeks, I was excited to sit on her properly in a saddle for the first time today. I knew she was ready for a rider as all the things in the last 4-5 weeks are the same things I would put into 1-2 weeks training on a domestic horse (more or less depending on the horse). I went through all the checks as usual, and then saddled her up. In particular, I focused on flexing her left and right from behind her shoulder- as I would be doing if I were sitting on her back. I also made sure she was yielding her hind quarters nice and smoothly. After about 10 minutes I went to mount her as I would normally, making sure nothing about my approach phased her. I got up and put weight on her by laying over the saddle, while keeping my body as up right as possible to simulate being in the saddle. She wasn’t too sure about this and moved a few steps, but then came to a steady stand still. I rubbed her and then brought my other leg over and sat with both feet in the stirrups, still rubbing her for reassurance. I didn’t want to do anything more than just flex her left and right and get her to lower her head so it was nearly level with her shoulders. Once her head was where I wanted it, I got off and on a few times and ended it there. I have no doubt she would have walked and trotted around nicely, but this is all I was looking for today. Letting me on and off calmly without moving was the target for this session.

Thought for the day: “Day 35 of 150… 115 days left. I see that as plenty of time to show this horse how to be great!”

Once again, thanks for reading! More people who follow, means more awareness that these Brumby’s are great creatures!

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