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Australian Brumby Challenge


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Tanya and Hawk - Week 2


This week my goals with Coby were leading him out of the yard, brushing him, and introducing new objects for him to target.

Day 8 - day off

Day 9 - morning session

This morning we went over haltering again, working a bit more on his 'hold' for doing up buckles.

Then we did a little bit of work on touching his legs, I was marking and reinforcing him for standing still with my hand on his leg, starting at his shoulder and working down until I was at his hoof. He took it all in his stride.

His hooves have quite a deep stress line on them that would be about a month and a half old, I'd say this was from the stress of being gelded and possibly any drugs that needed to be used, sedation/penicillin etc. They are such lovely shaped, strong little feet besides that!

I also introduced him to the pool noodle, I was just asking him to target it with his nose, at first he just kept offering 'stand facing forward' but after a few accidental touches of it, that he was reinforced for, he caught on and was starting to seek it out.

Teaching targeting is so useful for so many things! One aspect of it that I really like, is when you are taking a horse out who is frightened of new and different objects, you can ask them to target them with their nose. This builds so much confidence, the more scary the object the more treats we give. Soon the horse will start actively seeking out the things that used to scare them. Of course we need to start this slowly and build their confidence, trying to never go over their threshold, the point when they start to panic.

Afternoon sessions

We did a little more targeting the pool noodle. He's really starting to get the idea now :)

Then we practiced putting the halter on  and went for out first walk out of the yard. He did so well! I want make sure I never put pressure on his head when I'm leading him, as he is a baby, he could really hurt himself if he pulled back and panicked. And we don't want him to have a bad experience like that either. To get him to come off the grass we need to have a good reinforcement history, when I walk he walks with me and gets treats for it. The treats and earning them become more desirable than the grass.

Eventually for safety's sake I will teach him to come off gentle pressure on the lead. But I want leading to be about him walking beside because he enjoys it, not him being pulled along to learn if he doesn't come there will be and uncomfortable consequence.

Lastly we did a tiny bit of hoof targeting (standing on a board) this was a huge non event :)

Day 10 - morning session

We did a big brushing session, he was very good about it all, didn't even mind the funny noise of the brush on his mane. He has quite a bit of rain scald in his neck/whither, the rest of him seems ok though which is great!

He has such long hair! He's like a little Shetland :) and he's quite ribby under it all, I'm going to try to get him on a bit more grass this week, he's getting ad lib hay, but for a growing baby there's not a lot in it. What I don't want to do is start feeding him rich feeds that will make him grow too fast and make him fat. As our brumbies have evolved to eat lots of often poor quality fibre constantly (so have our domestic horses), they do not need lots of rich feed to put on weight and survive. Slow and steady weight gain is the idea and that will let him grow at a natural rate.

Afternoon session

We did some more leg handling, just working on one leg for now. I'm marking and reinforcing him standing still with my hand on his leg. Then I was wrapping my hand gently around his fetlock and waiting for him to offer some movement, marking, and reinforcing it.

All taken in his stride :) beautiful boy!

Day 11

We had a big day today even though we didn't do any specific training. Coby met VBA Jindabyne for the first time, she looks huge next to him! We had some lovely visitors come to meet Coby and Jindi, we had 2 loads of gravel delivered, his reaction was to stand and look at it and then walk closer to it :)

He also had his first treatment with his amazing sponsor Rachel from Remedial Soulutions!! Rachel is qualified in many different body work techniques including Acupuncture, Bowen Therapy, Release Therapy, and Equine Myofunctional Therapy. She also does some amazing energy work. She treats humans, horses, dogs, and has done treatments on my goat and one of our chickens who had a sore leg! She is a truly amazing person who is so kind and generous!!! Thank you Rachel!!!

Day 12- today we did lots of short sessions on picking up feet. He understands the lift cue mostly now and is starting to get a little bit of duration when holding his legs up. This is all trained at liberty so if he feels the need to stop he can just walk away.

He is also finally eating his feed with salt and minerals! Even starting to steal Tugs :) very glad to be getting some much needed minerals into him to help clear up his rain scald!

Day 13 

I put the ball in the yard today just for some entertainment, his reaction was to walk up, sniff it, push it out of his way with his nose and walk past it :)

I let him out to eat grass while Tug had his feet trimmed, the photo of him walking through the puddle is when I called him off the grass to train :) We did some more on feet picking up and started on both back feet.

After he went for a walk outside the yards, he went really well but had a little fright at something, I think also he probably needed a nap, he'd been scoffing grass non stop for over an hour in an area by himself, so he would have had to have been pretty alert the whole time with no Tug to protect him. He pulled away and I dropped the lead so I wasn't pulling on his head, he walked around looking a little worried about the lead dragging, and stood on it a few times, I went and got a handful of lucerne hay (a bit easier for him to see than chaff when he was worried) and he came straight up and walked beautifully back into the yard with me.

After that he walked off for a nap.

Day 14

Today we had a clinic on the property, Coby spent a lot of time with his head through the fence watching. He got to be part of it towards the end, showing participants how to ask for nose targeting and increasing duration and criteria.

In the afternoon we had the lovely Michelle out again from Michelle Knoll Photography.

She took some gorgeous photos of Coby's session. Thank you Michelle!!!

We worked  on picking up feet, he has a basic attempt on all 4 feet now and his fronts he is getting a little more duration when holding them up each time.

Then we did some pushing around of the ball with our feet (Coby's feet). He's not hugely enthusiastic about this yet, not as interesting as the other things I think.

We did some work on leading position and some trotting and halting in the leading position, him standing his shoulder next to me. Then we put the halter on and went for his first walk out of the yard by himself, he went beautifully and stuck with me the whole time! So impressed with this boy! He's so thoughtful, intelligent, and sweet.I'm hoping next week to be able to give him his first trim, even just his front feet. Take him for more walks, consolidate all the behaviours we've worked on so far, and get him into a bigger paddock. He was ready to go out last week but our paddocks are really wet.


Go to Tanya's Week 1 ... week 3


Go to Tanya and Coby's Page