Seems the time is flying by, with having to work 87.5 hr weeks once a fortnight, this challenge has been slow, progress for me and Rose. This week was all about the hair shedding, each time i would brush a clump of hair off when we started if the hair fell to the ground and touched her legs or she seen it, she would want to run away, but as time has progressed she is no longer afraid and quite enjoys it. We have done nearly everything at liberty, in the yards, so i thought we would work in the paddock to see if it carries on, often if the yard pen hasn’t been enjoyable doing work in the paddock will not be the same.. but it was better. Exciting! Rose hadn’t been a mare curious of any human world stuff, all was in her mind was run for the hills, but I am happy to say she has begun to be brave, with me and on her own.. she has been quite a stressy mare so we have been treating her gut health for ulcers, and low stress training has been necessary. As she is a wise herd protector mare, Waiting for her consent and for her to be ok with what we are doing is a must. She wont tolerate anything less. I have Nicked named this mare Rosa after Theodore Roosevelt quote The Critic, cause I’m quick to judge my Horsemanship based on the time frame verse progress made, this mare progress is so slow, and my time split and limited, it keeps me humble. Reminds me to silence my inner critic, and enjoy the journey.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Keep an eye on this mare, she will be a late bloomer..
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This week more rain and windy days, but Rose and I got some quality time in. This week was all about the body as this is how we can read and release pain and fear from the past and tension still held in the present. Each time I work with a horse, I ask the question, “What is in it for them? Why would brumby Rose choose to go against 100s of years of engrained instinct, which has helped them survive in the Australian bush, to trust people, especially after being removed from their homes and families. See I was taught in Horsemanship that horses are born followers and if you become a good leader then the horse will trust you. And you can do this by controlling their movement through the use of pressure and release.. Well it works on most horses to some extent but not on the traumatised or high instinct horses, and definitely not on a Bogong, proud matriarch lead mare like Rose, she will wait you out, or do what you ask then be wild again next day and she is too smart for that and she won’t work or do things for treats or food either, that’s not of value to her. So the only thing I can offer her is to help feel relaxed and confident in a new human world. Going back to the body the way a horse moves tell the story of where they are sore, and where they are sore tells a story of where they hold fear. (Even right down to what is their go to survival instinct can be read by the way their muscles and movement has developed.) I noticed in the circles with Rose that she prefers me on the offside, her circles are slow she is level etc and when I approach she puts me on that eye now (which has changed from the start.) On the near side eye she would rush, and hold her head up higher.. a sign for me of fear there. We spent most of our sessions this week just doing muscle release on her near side because to have her uneven affects every aspect of ground work and riding. The results were amazing, after each spot released Rose would go into sleepy process mode, her lips would start twitching and she would lick and chew a few times over and then seek me out for more.. Her curve through her circle came back What’s of benefit to Rose? (The same as all of us really) being out of pain, by feeling safe and relaxed. Just loving this journey with her.
We have changed her diet considerably, but gradually over the past week, trying to find a combination that both helps her be centred/calm and maintains her weight. This is helping her too..
This month seems to be the most rain we have had down in NSW since the last challenge 2yrs ago, which is a welcome change but makes it difficult working with Brumbies with only an outdoor arena.
Rose is progressing well with the bond building work, she is a very smart mare, tries hard, but has had trouble adjusting to a domesticated world. Each time we work together I can see her fighting an internal battle of one to trust her wild instinct, by holding her guard not trust people, (which I completely understand) to her if she does she won’t survive. Then she has moments of complete relaxation, where she seeks me out, where she looks intently at me and I'm sure says ok I’m ready what’s next? Those moments melt my heart. There have been many cute changes she has made she nickers to me each time I come out to her yards, she actually is thinking before just running when things change or scare her, and she watches me now not with fear but with interest, with curiosity..
Rose has won my heart.. we might not make it as far along as I first envisioned by the time the competition comes around, but that’s totally ok, is her watch not mine.
Week 5 & 6 VBA Rose
Week 5 was consumed by work and rain but got a little bit of sessions in she was coming over, being curious enough to touch me and having true let downs consistently. Each day with any horse, I see where they are at and how much they have retained from last time, if they are remembering were we finished and we can build on, they have been actively learning, if I have to start again, usually means the horse was to tense to learn last time. You see it like the first day on a new job, when we are anxious we go through the motions, may even do everything right, but the next day we realise we can’t recall the detail of all the stuff we did or people we met the first day. That’s all due to the stress hormones our body produces to protect us, we were functioning in a state of flight, fight or freeze. Our survival instincts. Then the next day people need to show us the same tasks again. Whatever we are trying to learn only sets solid when we can relax enough to process what we are learning. Horses are the same. 3yrs ago I use to call that type of horse a “50 first dates horse” after the movie, because I didn't know the depths of emotions the horse was going through. I just knew I had to start at the start every day, gaining their trust, reintroducing myself, running through yesterday session again. Then I met a fair few traumatised horses and one special brumby who were stuck at the not letting their guard down to trust ppl each day. They taught me the importance of reading a true let down, not just a lick and chew, cause high instinct horses can do that and not be relaxed, it can just mean they learned a new way how to survive. The wild ones taught me the importance of little bits often to much they can be overwhelmed quick,(the higher the fear the shorter the time frame) and go into shutdown, where it looks like you are getting it all done and tomorrow you come out and they remember nothing. Very frustrating for us with a trainer cap on a time line. But kinda sad when looking at it with empathy and understanding, putting your self in her shoes of how they feel, its survival for them. No one wants to learn in a state of anxiety or in fear.
Bit by bit getting this mare to become relaxed, calm and confident means a lot, as Rose is no different to the above mentioned horses, it is a balancing act, of helping her be brave, making sure she is present and knowing when she has learned enough for the session.
Week 6 I had Rose coming up within about 5mins of me being in the pen, consistently, she has been trusting me enough to rub her head and her neck, and we have started the learning to lead process! Big moves forward for her. Thursday, I started a new shift, so we are seeing each other in the dark. Under lights is a whole different concept, for Rose not one she can relax with yet.
Today we have the start of a rain even that’ set to last over the weekend , so will be interesting to see how much Rose has remembered after the break.
The photo above is my favourite!!
This is the first week I have had good time with Rose and progress was made but all at Rose's pace.
There are things we take for granted with domestic horses that Brumbies make you aware in their world is life or death..
We lit a fire we lit down the paddock sent them looking to get out, loud noises, cats, tractors with hay bales clanging of panels or gates, ppl in the yard approaching to touch, wheel barrows, ect. Are all life threatening.
This week in connection was the first time Rose made contact to investigate on her own drop into true relaxation and yawn and snooze. Very important part as I need to get this mare learning whilst in her parasympathic nervous system. As she has had digestion issues with runny poos, looking quite uncomfortable in her hind, due to being stuck on alert the cortisol has caused muscles underdevelopment. Horses like this with high instinct are prone to ulcers and has started treatment. Her poos have firmed up and mad a dramatic difference.
This week has been quite uneventful with 3 days of rain and 5 days at work. Only seeing her in the dark, feeding, watering and mucking out getting done around Rose, she enjoyed some time hanging in paddock and settling in.
Being that it is only her second week here, getting to know me, I haven’t had expectations on her to get haltered. In the 2 days we had making a connection was important. Slow and steady is the only way as Rose is a flighty horse and knows herself. She is confident in her abilities, instinct filled and is ok to stand alone, so getting her curious enough to connected is a slow process. After all she does not know she is in a competition and it would be unfair to push beyond her personal space boundaries just because of a time limit that doesn’t exist in the wild.
There is one thing that stood out to me that I have never had before with mare that is not quite ready to be touched, she has become comfortable enough to allow me to watch out for her when she lays down and rests, doing this while I’m in her pen with her now. Exciting progress in relaxation.
Some of the best friendships are forged over time. This definitely will be one of those.
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Due to COVID restrictions we couldn’t travel down on pick up last weekend, so Rose arrived 11:11pm with Petersons transport company on Saturday the 4th. Rose and My sons Brumby unloaded well, and tucked into their hay net. On Sunday, I could have my first look at her in the day light, what a beautiful mare. She is quite flighty as to be expected coming out of wild and in new surroundings. I just fed and watered and observed from outside the pen it was obvious she needed settling in time. Sunday was a day of rest.
Monday, we did first connection session, she was alert and on edge if I was in the pen and able to let down and relax more if I gave her more space. So, it started outside the pen we did little bits, and continued to fence and hang around her area so she could just get used to me being round. She was introduced to a bit of chaff with salt to keep her water intake up...
Tuesday, Rose seemed like she had become more settled in. This connection session she was relaxed with me in the pen and towards the end she became brave enough to eat her meal beside me.
Wednesday, she was brave enough to hang, and reach out to sniff and no longer gets tense when I enter the pen and muck out ect.
Thursday, Friday I worked so days to settle in more for Rose
Whilst doesn’t seem like much, the way we start our relationship will determine what level of trust she has with me when we ride. I tend to think of getting to know a new horse, is the same as meeting a new person. Sometimes it takes a bit of time before you trust each other, and friendship can’t be hurried or forced.
Looking forward to next week this mare has a sweet nature I want to learn more about.
Follow along and see videos of Rose on
Due to the COVID restrictions Emma's Brumby VBA Rose needed to make the journey to Emma via horse transport.
VBA Rose was loaded on Saturday along with our other Brumbies that were headed off to warmer weather in NSW and Qld.
Whenever we need to transport unhandled Brumbies, we always work with the team at M&J Peterson Horse Handling and Breaking Horse Transport.
These guys are calm, empathetic and they are just wonderful with our wild ones!
Thankyou so much to Matt and Logan who headed off on the long trip up to Upper Caboolture Via NSW with our precious cargo!
We are looking forward to Emma's updates from next week.