Australian Brumby Challenge ©
To Sum week 16 up for Magnus in one word, it would be: Variation
I talk about horses needing consistency in their training to learn, but also inconsistency in their life best prepares them for the real world also. Over 4 days of training this week, Magnus had not one day of the same regime.
On Tuesday Magnus was caught out of the big paddock at home to come back into work after his week and a bit spell. He- was- FRESH! (spring grass and clover… gotta love it) He had quiet the opinion about going into the float. Horses have all sorts of reasons why they present challenges; they may be worried, they may not know what the answer is… or they may just not feel like doing what you want, and will put a lot of effort into making this clear to you! I offered Magnus a nice deal of walking into our nice angle load float with me a couple times, as he’s done several.. if not a hundred times, before he really kicked up a stink. His mind was in the paddock still, on holiday, with his mates Nulla and Tic, and the float was his “back to school” ride, and he made his opinion of my offered deal pretty apparent to me. Lauren watched with quiet the “hmm” look on her face as Magnus and I re-enacted some scenes of the Benny Hill Show (insert Benny Hill music to the scene). “Move your feet forward when asked” was the lesson Magnus was reminded of away from the float, until he was looking for some mental and physical release, upon which I offered some… inside the float. Inside the float suddenly became a great deal to take me up on. By the time we then arrived to our training facility and unloaded our fresh boy, we had our soft, quiet and loving Magnus back. His work for the day then was being left alone in the round yard and watching some other horses be trained (again, to reinforce that energy around him isn’t always directed at him and he can relax until worked). Then a cool liberty session and a casual bareback walk around. Riding Magnus in a saddle is one thing, balancing on his little body bareback is quite a different feel, when I usually ride some pretty big horses.
He was then turned in with a new mare, who had started her training the day before, and was a bit lonely in her paddock from being split up from her mate. I entrusted Magnus the task of inducting her to some of our standards of behaviour. He gave her a lesson of “don’t you dare bump into me because you’re busy and disrespectful. I’m not your mum to be walked over”, Then he communicated “now let’s chill darling and have a go at this round bale you haven’t noticed because you’ve been too busy” She calmed and ate with him. It takes a mob to train a horse. Job well done.
Wednesday we Saddled up and tested how much we could really get some life happening around Magnus while in the saddle. In the arena I had whips, catch ropes, tarps, flags, all with as much life as I could put in them while riding him. He handles life around him fairly well but I learnt he gets a bit worried if things move around and then in front of him below his nose. We worked on swinging a tarp around and in front of him, then walking over it while I still held one end, then rubbing him all over for a treat all while walking along on a loose rein. We finished with a canter/lope around both ways for a while on a loose rein to “blow some cobwebs” out of his system with any pent up emotion he may have contained during the session.
Thursday Lauren and I both had dressage lessons away at another facility under Dirk Dijktra. Magnus came along for the ride with Harmony (zero Benny Hill scenes loading that day). Magnus was tied to the float by himself for a while I had my lesson on one of Dirk’s horses, and Lauren took Harmony away. I love Magnus’s independence with being left alone in a new place, tied to his familiar float, with no bad manners of pawing or calling out etc., all because he’s never been trained to be allowed to behave any other way. It’s simple really, but still a big credit to him. While Lauren had her lesson, I then bought Magnus down to the arena just to chill with him and watch. We stood around and I ended up getting on him, because it’s the best place to be with a horse.
Friday I had a lesson on him by Dressage Coach, Sally Engelhardt. We worked on his transitions in his paces, slow walk, extended walk, slow trot, extended, slow etc. Then getting his transitions changing gaits smother. Many “cute” words were expressed by Sally. His canter is till fast and not very balanced, and rather than work on his canter, Sally focused more on his balance in his slower gaits, and said his challenges are just young horse journey things, and he’s going well. She also likes his independence in the saddle, he doesn’t need me for support but happily respects my leadership. I learnt a new word that day. “Inertia”. She said that he is at point that I shouldn’t let the inertia of his movement swing me in the saddle, and I should be more still to get him to carry me and strengthen his body by doing so. We also worked on his leg yield in walk and trot, and she was impressed with his walk pirouettes. He was mentally tired, but happy, by the end of the lesson and it shows that sometimes, when you’re under instruction, it is good to be encouraged to sustain the intensity of the training in the session. I find out of empathy for the horse, I often do much less by myself as when I’m under a coach.
I’m glad Magnus has had many mental and physical spells during his training as know I would like to if I was in his situation. He never seems flooded or unwilling to learn more and his energy is stimulating to be around. He’s a good mate.