After taking the week off and going to Sydney to attend Equitana, the Brumbies were not that keen on having their freedom restricted today!
I began with having to get them into a smaller enclosure as my round pen is very large and I don't want them tearing about injuring or exhausting themselves. To do this I set up an open race - just six panels on the inside of the pen for them to go through as they were trotting around the pen. Once they were doing this calmly, I closed one end, they trotted in and I then closed the other.
Ah, two Brumbies in a smaller area - now to remove one....
TJ it seemed was almost as nervous as he was on day 1 and I think that this was probably at least in part due to the fact that Dunkan was happy to move with him. Dunkan-Doo seemed to recall everything he had been taught and was happy to be caught.
Now, with Dunkan attached to the lead rope, my problem was manoeuvring him out of the area and into a separate area without upsetting TJ (who can have a bit of a habit of inciting panic!). Dunkan led beautifully with the lunge whip (the only thing I could reach) behind his hocks while I kept a close eye on his big red friend.
All went well.
Dunkan-Doo then had a 40 minute groom/massage session which he appeared to enjoy enormously.
I then got on with TJ.
Up until now I haven't wanted to rope him (mostly because I can't rope the plastic bull I have even when it is next to me) because I have not been confident that I could get up to him to loosen it off when I needed to. Today we worked on that first.
Once I could get up to him happily and stroke him around the jaw, ears, upper neck and mane, I gently looped the rope over his neck. He didn't move as I had done this before with the lead rope.
From here I made a loop in the lariat and put it over his nose. I did this for two reasons; firstly, to let him feel the rope and me on each side of his face and secondly, to allow me to move his face towards me should he decide to turn away. I didn't pull on the rope and it didn't tighten around his neck at all. A couple of times he had a bit of a panic and went charging off but he only knows to turn and face me so both times it ended quickly and we began again.
When he had settled sufficiently I introduced the halter. By this stage he had already felt it and seen it briefly so he wasn't concerned about it. I got him used to having both my hands around his face which is something we take for granted but I have found the other Brumbies I have worked find this a big step. I need both hands to do the buckles up so I spent 10 minutes or so getting him comfortable with that.
Doing the head piece up was quite straight forward although he was initially surprised that it stayed with him when my had left! Fastening the nose piece is always more difficult and today was no exception. I actually think it would have been easy if it wasn't for pilot error! I somehow managed to get it over and under the lariat which meant taking the whole thing off and starting again (good training but possibly not what I wanted to do right then).
The lesson was less than an hour but TJ was mentally tired and not able to absorb much more.
Today's helpers - Prelly and Peg, the stable's cats.
I had the pleasure of meeting the gentleman that has the two other stallions that were trapped with TJ. He was telling me how terribly nervous he found them compared to other Brumbies he has worked. I am really hoping that today's lesson will be a great breakthrough for TJ.