Learning Horsemanship from a Brumby

Today we have an update from one of my Inner Circle students, Lynn Scott from Australia, about how her relationship is progressing with her wild brumby, Sakima. This is a testament to what gentle persistence can do.

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. Your help and advice has been fundamental in the journey. The big difference is I am doing it with my wild brumby Sakima, that has never accepted being handled by a person.

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 in the Waterhole Rituals with Sakima and coaching by Carolyn 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 Leading from Behind, so I just continued that and now he casually trots from his large paddock to the smaller yard after Sharing Territory and Saying Hullo and then starting Leading from Behind. No pressure, no huge energy I simply get up from my chair and start leading from behind and he does the rest. It does not give the instant results of other methods but the results are achieved with no stress and no flight response.

I still spend hours sharing territory and saying hullo. 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 sharing territory and saying hullo I can rub the halter over his heard 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 horse.

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.

Sakima is such a clever boy and knows the pecking order of apples and carrots. When he has done something that I think is super hard for him he gets apples and the rest of the time it is carrots. Apples are his all time favourite and his tongue literally smothers my hand as he gets his apple. His success in allowing me to hold his front feet has earnt him many apples. Next week the bare foot trimmer is coming so there will be a bag of apples after he has his feet trimmed.

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. Carolyn, your method as well as the latest DVD have been my constant companion on this special journey with Sakima. The DVD “A Meditation with Horses in Nature” gave me the inspiration and confidence to keep doing the Waterhole Rituals when others had faster, more immediate ways to start Sakima. I played “A Meditation with Horses in Nature” each time before going to be with Sakima.

This DVD is, I think your greatest gift to horse people. The subtlety of your method and messages are bought to life as I watched you communicate with the herds on the DVD. It was the privilege of being able to watch the members of each herd communication and interacting that makes this a unique horse experience. It was so important for Sakima and me. Each time I could see something more unique in the way that horses spend time together interacting. It gave me a window into Sakima’s world and helped me communicate with him the way that he would understand what I was asking and wanting. A wonderful DVD to watch and ponder about the beauty and complexity of horse society and fundamental in starting Sakima to accept the halter, lead, pick up his feet and tie. Thank you Carolyn!

One more thing before I go, at long last we will shortly be releasing the DVD version of my 'Liberty Training' video that I made some 20 years or so ago. Many people used it to train their horses and even though my Method has developed since then, I think it's still a very good training tool as the essence of what I teach hasn't changed. Anyway, more news on that week, enjoy your week.

Speak to you on Thursday