Week 1 with VBA Fiora was purely about letting her settle in from her travels from halfway across Australia. She learned about her new hot environment, the farm animals, the noisy working dogs, the buzzing cars and all the other horses that wanted to see the ‘new kid’ on the block. She especially bonded with a couple of my NT Brumbies, it's like they were comforting her because they too used to be in her situation, her ‘support crew’ definitely eased the transition for her. Her pen is located in a position where she can see me 24/7 whether I’m feeding, training horses so forth, and in the first week the most I did apart from filling her water, giving her hay, hard feed, etc was talk to her softly, watch her from a distance as to not make her uncomfortable, and offer a closed hand for her to sniff if she worked up the courage. This fascinated her, that I was asking nothing of her although she saw me constantly, and on Wednesday I noticed how she began to contently watch me work with other horses in the arena. As if she was trying to figure me out. Her first official milestone, where she started to come out of her shell and not shut the outside world out.
It took some time to find hay and hard feed that she liked, and for the first couple of days she only nibbled everything I offered her. Thankfully, as she began to settle in, she quickly learned that she is a sucker for molasses and since then, she eats everything offered to her and a stable feeding routine has been produced.
Week 2 quickly creeped up onto us; the starting point where we would officially start working together. Still making sure to not ask too much of her, it was all about building up the knowledge we already had of each other. Quickly, she showed me that hundreds of years of natural flight instincts that kept her alive in the wild are still deeply engraved into her. It could be the slight change of breath, shifting my body too quickly, the moving of a gate, the flapping of a chickens wings, the sound of pouring water, so on, that sets her off. I watch her, wide eyes, flaring nostrils, stiff body, as she tries to come to terms with this new life and what is expected of her now. But I’ve also watched as the bravery in her tries to overcome these natural instincts. she regains herself, watches me, then slowly, hesitantly comes up to my back, her nostrils flaring on the back of my neck. Sometimes, this flare of bravery will give herself a fright and she’ll back off, processing the sudden boldness. Other times, she’s allowed me to carefully stroke her. It's so important to praise every little attempt in the right direction, and from that I’ve noticed her confidence slowly building in our relationship this week.
Thank you for following along,
JJ and Fiora
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Due to personal reasons, VBA Fiora's original trainer had to withdraw from the Challenge.
We are delighted however that JJ Bracey has offered to continue with VBA Fiora's training and show case their progress together throughout the remainder of the Challenge and at the finals at EQUITANA next year.
VBA Fiora has made the journey from Upper Caboolture to the Northern Territory to be with JJ .
We are looking forward to JJ's updates from next week.