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Elizabeth & Rosie: "One Giant Leap of Faith"

Sharing my life-long passion of one day owning my very own horse with my husband (Tom), and our concern for the plight of the Australian brumbies, lead to us sponsoring two brumbies from Save the Brumbies (STB) Inc. (Bellingen NSW) in 2007 and 2008 with the view of eventually adopting.

Having no prior experience with horses, except for the occasional trail ride, this was a big step into the unknown. As a result, we have taken riding lessons but still consider ourselves beginners. We visit our sponsored brumbies sporadically a few times a year and, although they are both well handled, we lacked the experience in handling them confidently. Rosie, my sponsored brumby, has been saddle started with only a handful of rides under her belt. I have ridden her a few times, but each time I’ve either started on a lunge or had an experienced rider jump on before hand. Even so, I was always nervous and this nervous energy transferred down to Rosie.

We heard that STB Inc. was hosting a Carlos Clinic at their Bellingen Sanctuary in October 2009. At the time, we didn’t know who Carlos was. However, a good friend (Sandy Radke), highly recommended Carlos, after being impressed by his demonstration at Equitana in 2008. After such a glowing reference, and seeing Carlos’ DVD, we jumped at the opportunity to partake in the clinic with our two sponsored brumbies.

The day of the Carlos clinic was one of the best days of my life. It was the fourth time I’d ridden Rosie and the first time I haven’t had to start on a lunging lead or have someone ride her before I jumped on. Having spent the good part of the day playing with Rosie during the ground skills session, and going through the de-sensitisation together, we both gained each others’ trust. Even though I was initially terrified to ride in a halter….with Carlos’ support and encouragement I worked up the courage to jump into the saddle. His gentle methods and his calm demeanour relaxed both Rosie and me,  and gave me the confidence to experience my first trot on Rosie in a Halter!!!

As they say, “Ignorance is bliss”…..when after the fact you discover…..a green rider on a relatively green horse both attempting their maiden ride in a halter in front of spectators!!....One giant leap of faith, all right!!!

Thanks to Carlos and his gentle methods. That day, Tom and I were both able to connect with our sponsored brumbies on a spiritual, emotional and physical level.

THANK YOU Carlos for introducing us to a better way of interacting with horses through Confident, Consistent and Kind Leadership.

Warmest regards,
Elizabeth & Rosie

Rosie and Elizabeth

Learning horsemanship from a brumby

Exhilaration is not enough to describe how I feel at the moment. I truly have achieved a relationship with my wild brumby, Sakima that we all dream of as young girls and never achieve.

When Sakima, as a wild horse took his chance for freedom several weeks ago and then decided to return to our farm and our mob of horses I knew that he trusted me and had bonded with me. Having him follow me down the mountain will always bring a lump in my throat.

His trust to come home gave me the confidence to decide that it was time to start Sakima. Wow, was I apprehensive, yes. Did I know what I was doing, no?  I had plenty of horse trainer friends who said they would come and start him. The horse world is full of experts.

I said no this is something Sakima and I will do together. We will learn what to do together. My work with Sakima and coaching by Lisa gave me the confidence that Sakima would show me when I made mistakes and when I got it right.

How right my thoughts proved to be. Sakima has been my best coach in this journey together. When I don’t do a request correctly he clearly tells me by leaving me or tensing up his muscles so much that I can’t help but observe his apprehension.

I have made mistakes and yes, listened to others when doubts creeped into my human brain. One said I should try Join Up to move him into the yard where we would work together. Well, I did but I stopped it immediately, too much pressure and energy. Sakima sent me a clear message, “I will do this but I don’t need you to do it this way”.

Sakima was far more comfortable with me just asking him to move from behind, so I just continued that and now he casually trots from his large paddock to the smaller yard. . No pressure, no huge energy I simply get up from my chair and start asking him to go into the smaller yard. 

I still spend hours sitting with him and putting no demands or pressure on him and saying hullo by stroking his forehead.. The other trainers were on time agendas, “we can give you four days and the basic job will be done”. Yes, but at what cost to Sakima was the nagging thought in my head.

I threw away my diary and forgot work and yes it has taken 10 days to start to achieve what others would have done in one or two days. But now the progress is so rapid I come back from each session with him amazed and so proud of what we are achieving  together.

Now, while sitting and just sharing time with by brumby I can rub the halter over his head and ask him to put his nose in the halter and he lets me tie it around his neck. Just doing this can take an hour but the exhilaration you feel when he drops his head into the halter and allows me to clip the lead rope proves time should not be considered when starting a brumby.

Sakima adores the mutual grooming that we do together. Not the rubbing of his withers but me untangling his mane. His entire mane was long dreadlocks. It takes 30 minutes to untangled each dreadlock. He stands head down and eyes drooped as his magnificent, long mane takes shape. Each day I brush what I have untangled to keep him looking the best horse in the paddock.

Today Sakima has given me the greatest trust a horse can give. I picked up his front feet, held them and picked them out with a hoof pick. No dramas, no kicking no fear. This is the ultimate statement of trust as a brumby has no life without his legs.

Then I asked my brumby to tie and to accept that he would be tied to a post and no choice to move. For 15 minutes he stood motionless with head calmly relaxed. No dramas, no pull back just complete trust that what I asked him to do he knew it would not hurt him or endanger him. I repeated the exercise again today thinking yesterday was just a fluke. No, it was the same again, a quiet brumby standing tied with me beside him.

Sakima leads with the halter on and turns and it is the softness that I have always heard about but never thought I would have a horse so soft and responsive. I just have to give the slightest gesture and he responds.

It is an amazing experience to be trained by a brumby and it is truly a sharing learning experience. I lead and decide the moves but he is refining my horse skills to a level I have never achieved before.

It is a partnership where we are both learning together. It is a privilege to adopt a brumby and then to join the brumby on the journey to domestication. Thankyou Save the Brumby Association.

Lynn & Sakima

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  Copyright 2009 – Whispering Acres. Last updated December 2009