Monday, 4 July 2011

Now I’ve done it. My credentials are being questioned. Some one said, What makes you think that you can break in a horse? Well, actually I never really thought about it since I’d been riding horses from the age three, as far as I was concerned, there’s no breaking in required. Just a getting on.

I was galloping around the paddock at age three. Well allright maybe it wasn’t me but the horse I was on. And maybe the 19 hh Clydesdale xx police horse wasn’t quite galloping around the paddock with me on it’s back, but he sure made me look and feel competent.

He made all the right moves and taught me how to be a accomplished rider long before my feet ever reached any stirrups. Of course I’m still a work in progress and always will be but my first equine friend Alex taught me much.

Apart from the incident where he gobbled down Mum’s David Jones summer sale straw hat, all rides with Alex were flawless and cemented my friendship with all things equine.

After we moved to acreage my days were filled with building my own version of Hogsmeade and incorporating my herd of wild friends in this village. In turn my friends welcomed me into the herd as one of theirs and I didn’t realise for a long time that most people use saddles and bridles to ride their horses. We had a lot of fun.

After a few incidents (not all horse related), I decided on a sabbatical from riding which is the best thing I’ve ever done. Because enjoyable as riding a horse is, it doesn’t necessarily teach us much about horsemanship or equine behaviour. Riding a horse is all about how you control your horse’s movements. It’s hanging out with horses which teaches me every day how much I still have to learn and how little I know about equine behaviour. It is very humbling.

As a child it all came naturally and now it’s about putting into practice what came natural early on in life. I discovered a few things in the process of learning alongside Brandy and one is that I’m not as elastic as I used to be as a child. The second thing I learned is that brumbies are not all the same as domestic horses. This child which was playing with and riding unbroken horses which were bred in captivity is light years removed from the person I am today who is attempting to break in a brumby by spending a few moments with her every now and then. Even though my childhood years are only a decade and a bit in the past, my behaviour and time management doesn’t compare.

As a child I breathed horses day and night. Now between all my commitments if, apart from feeding times, I manage to spend a few moments with Brandy every few weeks it’s a lot.

Brandy is eager and willing and I’ve been just, well you know, busy. I haven’t prioritised my time with her, expecting to slot into that ‘natural mode’ of my childhood years. Which of course would happen if I were to spend the time, but a few moments here and there are never going to cut it.

As a child some of my best buddies were equine champs who were bought up by Arabs after their wins. In my teens I galloped alongside an ex cop as we scaled the hills around Belli Park area. I exercised horses for an endurance rider and a riders western competition horses and fell in love with Friesians and Gypsy Vanners. I had the good fortune to be taught by wonderful teachers on the Sunshine Coast. On the Fraser Coast I was trained as a coach for disabled riders. The beaming faces and large grins during riding lessons is the best return for all the time put in with my four legged friends.

So am I qualified to break in a horse? If you were to ask my old friends they’d probably say, Breaking, what breaking? We were just horsing around. 

With Brandy however .. I’ve let her down big time. How to redeem myself?