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Australian Brumby Challenge ©

Michael and Honey - Week 6

Another week over already! Here we go…week 6.

Day 36: Another day off for Honey. I would rather give her lots of little breaks between training rather than a long spell. This routine seems to work well for Honey as she is not overworked, and happy to come up to me at the gate of her paddock and learn some new things.

Day 37: Today I had about a 30 – 40-minute session with Honey. When I took her from the paddock to the round yard she had a couple of mystery spooks, but she stayed with me and didn’t pull back or feel she needed to run away. This is great news because it means her safe place is closest to me, rather than at the end of the lead rope. We carried on to the round yard where she had another little spook, yet again I’m not too sure what it was, and I can usually see a spook before it happens. Once in the round yard, I went through my usual routine, like brushing her down and making sure there are no obvious physical issues… and there it was! The spook! It was a number of sticks stuck in her tail along with a pine cone swinging from the bottom. Must have been a rough night. I did some flexing exercises and checked my controls were in place. Next, I saddled her up. I moved her around to stretch her out, and did my final adjustments on the girth. Once I was on she happily stood still, which was right where we left it the last session. I lowered her head, flexed her left and right, and then moved her a step. All I am trying to do is get control of her feet, so one step in the direction I am asking is all I wanted. I did this by applying a small amount of pressure from my left leg, whilst leading with my right rein and with my head, shoulders and stomach turned slightly toward the direction I want to go. Once she takes the step, I return to the stop position. Then, I do the same with the left foot. I keep repeating this until I can rock her left and right. It takes nearly the whole session to achieve this. For the last 5 – 10 minutes I walked her in a circle, getting slightly bigger each time, making sure I had stop and go sorted out. I want Honey to be completely in tune with my body position early on, as this is the time where Honey is most aware of every movement I make. This was it for today, apart from a long walk and a pick through the forest.

Thought of the day: “This is the perfect time to make sure Honey (or any horse) is responsive to my aids and position. By using her heightened awareness of me being on her back, she is completely focused on me, which makes for the perfect opportunity to really get control of all four of her feet.”

Day 38: Yet again another day off for Honey!

Day 39: Honey had two visitors today, Bassy (9yrs old) and Eva (7yrs old). Honey was a little unsure when they first came in to the paddock, first looking to me for reassurance before going to greet the kids. I thought this might freak Honey out a bit but she did really well, letting both of them touch her at the same time, with me standing back to take a picture.

I’ve been trying to find a better fitting saddle for Honey. The normal saddle I use for starting horses is a bit too wide in the gullet and it sits a little too close to her withers. I found a saddle that fit her, which happened to be one of the girls’ barrel racing saddles. I’m not really one for having horns on saddles (unless I need it), but as it fit Honey I went with it. I lengthened the stirrups all the way down and hopped on. Unfortunately, I didn’t fit the saddle... Oh well. I still used the saddle for this session, and just practiced on the ‘go and stop’. Yet again, I am working on getting her to go and stop using mainly my body position, with as little leg and rein pressure as possible. Just a short session today, as I had a meeting to go too at the local pub...

Thoughts of the day: “time start the search for 15 or 16-inch saddle with a medium gullet!”

Day 40: Day off again for Honey. So instead of letting her sit in a paddock the whole day, I took her into the arena in the afternoon. Kristen was riding her horse ‘Sav’, (this is the horse I was using as a lead horse in last week’s post). I let Honey off the lead and asked her to follow me. I didn’t want to work her at all, I just wanted us to have a bit of fun. We walked over some poles as Kristen cantered around us. Honey played with the mounting block and lunge whip for a while before one of the cats came in to greet her. Today turned into a special day, as two kids called Lawry and Elsie stopped by Mona Farm around 4pm and greeted us at the arena, with their mum Kylie and dad and Rob. Theses guys have been following Honeys Journey and enjoy seeing the weekly updates. Both kids were shy at the start, Elsie being the shyer of the two. Lawry was first up asking questions about Honey. Honey looked curious, and was intrigued with these tiny humans. I told the kids how to approach the horse, and where it was safe to stand. Honey approached Lawry, and after a few pats on the head and with the initial excitement over, Lawry was focused. He moved on to pat her on her neck, then Lawry and Honey took the next step, and he led her around the arena with me close by. I’m really happy with Honey, she is trusting and accepting instruction from this small human by letting him lead her around the arena. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Lawry and Elsie are both living with autism. They have slightly excited and exaggerated movements sometimes (which is great for horse training!). They can find it a challenge to focus sometimes, but the focus I saw on Lawry’s face when I asked him to lead Honey was amazing… Honey was very patient and did a great job too. I have just developed a new level of respect for this horse, and a new appreciation for what horses can do for people. Especially this little wild Brumby. I got Lawry to walk Honey back to the stable, and together we fed Honey and the rest of the horses. Elsie came out of her shell when she met Max (the farms Shetland pony), then the timidness with the horses passed, and there was no stopping her after that!

Thanks to Lawry, Elsie, and Kylie and Rob for coming around. We hope to see you again very soon!

Thought for the day: “speechless”

 Day 41: After a little bit of fencing to sort out, I put Honey in a bigger paddock to have some fun in the sun! Day off while I went looking for a saddle…

Day 42: After another long trip searching for a saddle, I picked one up, brought it back… and it fit! Perfect. I saddled her up and went some flexing and yielding, then I hopped on. She was very ‘bracey’ today when I was on her back, and didn’t want to give to the pressure as soft as she had been. So I got off, and worked on getting her really soft. I got back on and just worked on moving her feet. She was getting pretty good so I decided to start with some go and stop. I realised I’d hit a bit of a sticky spot. She had some trouble understanding ‘go’ so I asked Kristen to come in the round yard and give my legs some support by asking Honey to walk with her. Honey got it very quickly, and after a couple of circle’s around the yard we were off. She was getting softer on my leg every time I asked for a walk. I walked around just asking for stop and go, working on refining her response. I will work on this throughout next week and get her in the arena where there is a lot more space for Honey to move around. After about an hour, I was happy with her progress so I stopped there.

Thoughts for the day: “I’m glad Honey has shown me when she is a little confused, now I can help her figure out exactly what I am asking her to do”

Thanks again for reading and a special thanks to Greg, Nicola and their team at Braidwood Veterinary Clinic for their support. They have generously sponsored me all vet care, worming and dentistry for Honey throughout challenge. They are big supporters of the Brumbies, and can see what we are doing is all for a great cause.

Thanks Greg, Nicola and the team! Myself and Honey really appreciate your support!


Go to Michael's Week 5 ... week 7

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