Australian Brumby Challenge ©
Wow 21 weeks with little Pip now. I guess it’s the time now to own up and say I really didn’t think I would get through the first month, when I was driving home with little Pip in the float I was pretty sure with work and dogs I just simply wasn’t going to have time so I gave myself 4 weeks and if I wasn’t at the stage sitting on her back then I would throw in the towel and accept defeat.
I struggled the first few weeks massively, I had a fight with my dad because when we were getting home from work it was like 6pm and pitch black and I had this wild Brumby in a tiny yard that was knee high with mud and I had no light to try and move her. I changed my work hours so I could get home at 5pm and then I would have like 20-30 minutes to spend with her.
First I tried the passive way to get Pip to respond to me and to see how potentially dangerous she could be. After 2 weeks and still no halter though I did end up getting some help from my mum to get the halter on and this is where we I hit probably the biggest challenge for myself out of this whole challenge. When I tried to teach Pip to tie up she would pullback so hard and THROW herself on the ground, it was dangerous and frankly, scary. I had never had a horse so determined to not give in. I ended up doing the old trick on the inner tyre rubber and an anti-pull back collar and it worked a trick but I was worried. What if she did this when I tried to get on? Or when she didn’t like something and I was in the saddle? I couldn’t afford to get hurt. Mentally it set me back I pushed through teaching her to lead and even then, she still threw herself on the ground a few times when she got confused but I just worked on step by step. Teach her to tie, tick. Teach her to lead, tick. Teach her to be caught, tick. Teach her to eat while I am brushing her, tick.
I had to work really hard on not jumping ahead of myself. The time factor totally freaked me out, I was against great professionals and I am used to doing things really slowly when I break in horses taking months and months usually of bringing them in and turning them out and repeating it so they can grow mentally and psychically.
My ‘one month’ deadline was closing in and with about a day to spare I did get on her. I remember it so well and it was such a special memory. I was down the shed by myself and it was pouring with rain. Pip was pretty good in the shed by this point and I had been bringing her in and brushing her, rugging her, leaning over her and I plucked up the courage to put my leg over. She handled it well, very well. It reassured me and for the first time I thought, maybe I could do this challenge and get through to the end.
Pip was pretty good to break in, she was quite a forward little pony so I worked a lot on slow and desensitising her. She was very spooky as expected and because of her height I knew she really needed to be as unflappable as possible because she will be a kid’s pony, there is no doubt about it. I did a lot of walk and trot work at the start partly because I wasn’t used to such a little pony and in the canter I could have easily gone straight over her head if she had bucked and partly because I really wanted her to be used to a rider before I tried. Luckily, apart from a few small pigroots Pip has never put a foot wrong under saddle.
Pip is one of those rare ponies who is born to be a child’s best friend and not trained for it. She loves to be fussed over, she would pick a pat over a feed, is happy to stand for hours while being brushed and happy to be ridden bareback up from the paddock. This isn’t something I trained, as much as I would love to take credit for it Pip is just like that. She is easy, she is fun and she is safe.
This has been shown over and over again from going to the beach straight after being broken in, to doing pony club in groups, to doing barrel racing, to doing show jumping rounds when she has been over like 1 jump, to being safe on cross country, she can go from a flat-out canter to chilled long rein walk every single time.
Am I sad to see her go? Of course. She is so easy; she knows her job and she does it without question. I will miss her but I really want her to have the chance to have a little rider who wants a best friend who will safely do whatever they want whenever they want. She could be the most amazing eventing pony with a clean jump or she could be a riding for the disabled horse or both!
I could not speak of her temperament more highly; she is so trainable and level headed. She might question why you want her to do something scary like every horse but she will do it and she will do it safely and she has done it all while I have been working fulltime with other horses in work and a busy life outside horses.
I have loved this experience and I can’t believe we made it to Equitana. No matter what happens this week I am so proud of my little pony.