Australian Brumby Challenge ©
I did my first sit in the saddle today. It went just right with no stress. The link to the video is at the bottom of the update.
It's taken me a little while to know that his balance and strength was ready for the mounting. Only one stressful mounting and Fergus will be nervous about the rider getting on. It’s easier to get it done correctly in the first place, rather than rush it and be forever trying to fix it.
I knew that he was going to have a bit of trouble with the carrying of the weight of the rider in the beginning because his hind feet were just not sitting underneath him. I've been really working on rewiring his flight and fight to focus and try and teaching both back feet to step off and also to be the stop feet. This then gives him the mental and physical know how to balance for the rider to mount.
Fergus is really confident with all the new skills that he’s learning. He can go into walk and trot with his head and neck neutral and his hind quarters engaging. He's still having a little bit of trouble with me picking up, in particular, his near-side hind foot because he has trouble putting his weight on his off side hind foot.That's something I've just got to keep working at and he'll get better and better at it. I notice small increments of improvement each time he picks up that foot. The key to success with it is for me to put it down before he needs to put it down. It may only be a second more than the last time, but very soon he will be able to hold it up for as long as needed and with confidence. I never force him to hold it up. That will only trigger his flight and fight.This is purely a balance issue. Time and patience will see success the quickest.
My goal is for Fergus to have all the skills he needs from a ridden horse aspect without any fear associated with those skills. I don't want him to have fear associated with me being near his girth, or doing his girth up, or putting the saddle on, or picking his feet up, or putting the bridle on or any of the other 100 skills that Fergus has to understand. I don't want him to be fearful of any of those things. I don't want him to just put up with them because he has no choice. I actually want him to be really confident and relaxed and feel completely un-threatened.
That all comes down to his back feet being under him.If his hind feet are under him he will have mental balance. Posture dictates state. Horses are not attached to being fearful. Purely, their posture puts them in a frame that is balanced all through their poll and shoulders and this makes them mentally perceive the world to be a threatening place. As soon as you change that posture, as in the hind feet coming under, the back is lifted up, the movement comes from his hind feet and the horses mental state changes.They don't perceive there to be any threats when they're in that posture. That's what I've been working on with Fergus, and getting all those things in place, so that he can be working until he's 30. The foundation now is the most critical thing and if I rush him he'll have baggage with things for his entire life. It's quite easy to damage them at this stage mentally and physically. You never really seem to get them to 100% over it. There's always that little bit in there. It's like they've dropped behind the 8-ball and you just struggle to get them up again.
I want to get all the rungs of my training ladder in place.Get them all correct and without stress, and without fuss.Build his physical structure and build him mentally.I see my job is to enhance his ability to focus and try for longer, and longer, and longer. He'll be able to focus, and try, and work quite hard, and not get stressed at all. It won't bother him because he won't be working with tension and therefore the work will not be fearful work. It will be relaxed work even though his heart rate will be up and he will be physically trying, it won't be mentally stressful for him.
Here is the link to see Fergus’s latest video which includes his first under saddle mounting.