Australian Brumby Challenge ©
We finally had a nice day weather-wise towards the end of the week, I think the first one since the Challenge began. What a treat it was to play around outdoors without being rained on, hailed on, blown over or all of the above!! We tried out a few new obstacles – playing with a bigger tarp, getting River to carry the tarp and walking under/through an old curtain I’d cut into strips. As with introducing obstacles in the past, River hardly took any time to look, investigate (with that front foot!) and then be fine with it. I was particularly surprised at how easily River worked out to lower his head to walk under the curtain, and didn’t rush through at all, even on his first try.
We are still working on the float loading and River was able to stand in the float with the divider in place while I walked to the back of the float and closed the breaching gate. Even though I’d hoped to be further on with this by now, this is a big improvement.
Being that it was a warm day, River had his first full body wash. I didn’t initially tie him up as I wanted him to be able to move around if he felt he needed to, but after wetting him down and sudsing him up River didn’t seem overly concerned so I tied him up just so I had both hands free. This was only about the third time River has been tied up and he’s been perfect each time.
The rest of the sessions we’ve just worked on improving the exercises that River already knows. There’s a couple of things that he has really struggled with, one of which is yielding on the forehand, especially on the offside. I think it’s taken about 6 weeks for River to consistently respond to the cue, but he is still very uncomfortable with that manoeuvre – his front legs go all stiff and his back feet seem glued to the ground. But that just goes to show how hard he tries, even though he is worried. For this exercise particularly, I am still very slow with the cue and give him plenty of space and time to respond. This is to build his confidence so he can stay relaxed while moving, there is no benefit to asking for more steps or quicker movement at this stage, as that would only increase his anxiety.
The other exercise River has struggled with is leading in hand (when I am walking beside him). He has been very responsive all along when I am walking out front, but has been very wary when I walk beside him – he gets the sticky feet again with lots of stopping and starting. This is something else we’ve been working on for quite some time, basically building up his leading a step at a time, rewarding any little try and keeping the sessions short. This week we finally got a couple of steps of trot, once again showing just how hard River tries even when he is unsure.
EQUITANA is just around the corner now, the nerves are starting to kick in as I realise just how much further along I thought I’d be by now – eeek!!!
For more updates and pics see my FB page ABC 2016 : Sally Adsett-Brown