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Australian Brumby Challenge ©

Steve and Fergus - Week 1

I’ve only spent about 3 hours in total with Fergus so far. I’ve been crook and then was away Wednesday and Thursday, then we had SNOW on Friday! It’s been a crazy week! (Sally blames it on the winter solstice and full moon!). Fergus has settled down a lot, he’s drinks well and regularly and he has quite an appetite (he eats like a horse! Haha). I know these Brumbies are tough, but with him being confined to a small yard, I backed the float up for shelter if he needed it. He was horrified by this idea at first! However, once we were gone, he must have realised the float was full of hay and we heard him stomping in and out during the night. The next morning he was in the far corner again, acting like he’d never been near it! Funny little guy.

Regarding training: I want to change Fergus’ instinctual behaviour from “leave” (and stay as far away as possible) to “focus on me” and try to work out what it is I want.

He came to us as a totally wild horse, so for his survival he’s naturally in a state of fear and flight. His current posture of ‘head-up’ with all his weight on the fore, ready to flee in an instant - is dictating to him to be fearful of his surroundings and me. He perceives threats and is constantly on edge because of his posture.

In the wild that posture worked to keep him safe, but the last thing we want for a domestic riding horse is posture that constantly tells him to be ready to flee. It just doesn’t work for domestic ridden horses. When I change his posture and how he moves, he will perceive the world very differently – in a non-threatening manner.

Posture Dictates State.

To help him reframe his posture, I need to flex his ribs to the left and to the right and  teach him to engage his hind feet for all movement. He needs to shift his weight from the front end, to the back end. This will help him to lift his back, build the correct muscles to carry the burden of the rider, thereby increasing his longevity, reducing injury and maximising his potential.

This week I’ll be continually reinforcing Fergus to focus on me, flex left and right and start to engage both hind feet when he’s loose or haltered. Doing this multiple times a day helps him to develop the correct (desired) muscles, which helps him to release the current dominating (undesired) muscles. These things also help with making him easier to catch because he’s becoming more mentally and physically balanced. It’s really important that I prepare his muscles and structure to carry the burden of the rider; before any ridden work, otherwise it’s possible to cause him long term and permanent injury.

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