Australian Brumby Challenge ©
Welcoming VBA Pippin to my horsie family!! A brown mare (yay!), 14hh, blaze with two little back socks... Who was caught heavily pregnant.. Alone (which is super unusual for a brumby but Colleen did tell me if a new stallion takes over a herd and the mares don't like him, they just leave... If this is the case she seems like my kind of girl!) from the Bogong High Plains in Vic in 2014. I won't tell you too much about her personality because it is early days and I don't want to jinx myself but I will just say she traveled better then handled horses I know and when we got home I put my hand inside the float to undo something and she rested her muzzle on me!!!!!! Such a magical moment. She casually walked off the float and into her yard happy as larry.
Day 1: I got home from work at 5.15pm and raced outside for the tiny bit of daylight left. She whinnied at me as I walked down towards her with some delicious lucerne hay.... good start. I really just wanted to see what I was dealing with... Evaluate her as an individual horse and see what the best way is to proceed with her... I popped the hay outside her yard and you could see she wasn't overly happy it was out of reach but she walked up to me and stretches as far as her little feet will take her and takes it out of my hand... I take a deep breath and start talking to her, she leans back on her heals and turns her head away from me. A sign she isn't totally comfortable.. I watch her as she eats.... calm but unsure... she doesn't move her feet though... also a good sign. I repeat this a few times and then pop my hand out to see if she is interested in having a sniff.. zero interest....only shows interest when I wiggle the food again.. I giggle to myself thinking yeah your an independent little mare.... Not to worry its early days and I bring the food.... I repeat feeding her a few times and although she continued to turn her head away she actually stepped up closer and stopped stretching out on her toes, that's enough for today, a little win... its been 20 minutes and its now dark... I sigh... Winter Sucks.
Wednesday: I'll be honest I stuffed up. I hadn't had the best day, I rushed in put too much pressure on her and she in return was just like no thank you, not today... Yes yes I know you shouldn't even bother trying when you’re not in the right head space, anyway I decided before I made today a negative training session I would just scrap my training plans and just sit and have a little low key play letting her make all of the moves. Once I sat down it took her a few minutes to decide I hadn't just turned into the devil and she came over and started sniffing around looking for scraps on the ground. I play around with feeding her little bits of hay then letting her get her own hay but having to touch my hand in order to do it... this worked well and I got a few short pats on her right cheek.
Friday: I managed to sit in the water trough within the first few minutes so my back, bum and legs were wet and cold and it wasn't a wonderful thing in this weather but I moved pass this. She seemed to pick up exactly where we left off the night before and it didn't take long before I was stroking her neck, I got the time up longer and longer but she was still stepping away as she ate and then I started rubbing her neck with the halter she took this all well so I left it there.
Saturday: Pip was a bit like mmm why are you here in the day light and took a few minutes to get back into the groove of things but i continued to work on patting her neck and after a little while she stopped stepping away to eat here hay she happily let me continue patting here while she munched away and then went in for more.. This was good so I just continued this reinforcing the good behaviour. Then I started moving my hand around more.. Going in each time a bit more in each direction to see where her limit was.. I could go back to about 1/3 of her back, all the way down to the top of her leg and about half way down her neck.. I started working down her neck and chest till eventually I could go all the way down to her cheek and stroke it a few times.. I was really happy with this. In the afternoon I just did a quick session starting on her right side which had been slightly neglected.
Sunday: We just had a chill day, I went over patting her in the morning and in the afternoon I just sat with her while she ate my and my family chopped fire wood.. good desensitization... I didn't want to
I am happy with this first week, I think I could have got the halter on Friday/Saturday but I am happy to leave it and do a bit more handling before we trek down that path.
Small goal is to brush her all over. Large goal halter and wash