Don't know how often I will update this, but Ill give it a go.
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How I found him
I purchased Bundy in September (?) last year (2008). We saw his ad up on the shed at State sporting at Gundagai, and went to have a look on the Monday morning. He was owned by a lady who lived a little way out of Gundagai on a property. My dad knew the area because his boss owns a property very nearby and dad always comes up to pick up hay. Very nice people, the lady was very into her own brand of natural horsemanship (gives lessons, etc.) which is not really my cup of tea, but hey. He was being called 'Fox' there. We went and caught him from the paddock. He was MASSIVELY overweight! I would say obese. Big fatty lumps on his belly. She spent about an hour and a half showing me all the groundwork she does EVERY time she rode him. (I would never get to ride if I spent an hour and a half before I rode doing groundwork!!) It was a lot of roundpenning. She then tacked him up and roundpenned some more. Eventually she got on and did some walking/small amount of trotting on the buckle of the reins in the arena. Apparently she had done a HEAP of ground work with him, but not much actual riding. I gathered that what she did do was with no rein contact and hardly any leg. He was lazy as anything! So my turn. I hopped on and rode him around the arena a bit. Boy was he lazy! I coaxed a few strides of canter out of him. I tried turning him around some barrels she had, and could feel some power there; like he had the ability to really get under himself and power out of turns, but couldn’t because of his weight and fitness level. He was a really smoochy boy, and the most beautiful shiny coat. He did bite, as she fed them buckets of carrots nightly. I decided to give him ago, I had felt some potential. We went and picked him up a week later.
Getting rid of the weight and seeing what was underneath!
I started him straight away on exercise and rations. He was not allowed ANY hand-fed treats to stop the biting. He had a few bad habit… Kicking when doing up leg straps on rugs, biting when the saddle went on, bucking when asked to canter, hopping into the trot. He had palm-sized white patches on either side of his wither from badly fitting saddles in the past. I soon learned that if the saddle was even an inch too far forward it sat on these pressure points, which he told you by walking around with his back humped like a camel. He was chiro’d, wormed, etc. As the weight started to come of he became a lot freer in his movement and simply a lot happier to be ridden. We had a lot of lessons about listening to my legs, with a lot of escalation of pressure if he didn’t listen (he got quite a few over-unders with the reins in the early days!)Eventually he learned to move of when asked and stay in that gait, to move off my leg, to have better ground manners. He had to learn how to work with contact again, as he thought that any contact meant stop. I nearly got pitched over the front a few times when I picked up my reins and got a beautiful ASH-worthy stop! He slowly learned to move forward into rein contact, and a progression from there, to give to rein contact and start to carry himself. This only came with the establishing of forward, which we finally achieved through lots of relaxed trail rides and cattle-chasing days. Nothing better than trails to tempt a lazy horse to move out, I say!
Starting to compete, and fixing more issues!
So, the time had come to start getting out there and seeing what he could do. We still had to adjust the saddle a few times at the start of rides to get it in his exact spot. Our first competition was our PC Gymkhana. Lovely! A nice familiar setting for his first ‘outing’. We hadn’t quite achieved forward into contact by this stage, so our rider class was punctuated by me hissing ‘get up!’ at him periodically around the circle to keep the canter. Keeping impulsion on a circle was something that came a while later! Needless to say we weren’t called in for our rider class :] We did ok, getting placings in the pairs and fours classes. We weren’t graded yet for SJ, so missed that out. We took it sure but steady in the sporting, sure that Sam and speedy little Pepper would sweep the sporting and get highpoint, but she made a few mistakes and voila! We had won highpoint at our first gymkhana. Was very happy with my boy. He had his first mounted games competition at Bungendore, where as a pair Sam and I had a run off for first in the intermediate div, we got second. His second comp was at Gunning, and he was a bit more hyper this time. We had a few interesting moments, and a bit of a meltdown when trying to standstill to get the ball in hi-lo, but overall not too bad. I was experimenting with bridleless with him, and had good results. I was able to ride him with a neck rope only, doing w/t/c, rollbacks, spins and stops. I decided to give this a break, as the stops without a bridle were letting him poke his nose out. Bad habit! I was working toward ASH shows and Campdrafting. We had our first Ash classes at Bungendore show, getting a second in the Station Hack class and a Second in the working class, as well as a second and a first in the time trials. Our second foray was Yass Show, where we weren’t called in in a very large ridden class (our still developing frame + forward was a factor) but worked out in the working class for a second. I was chuffed with his workout, and personally thought he deserved first, his stops were great, but judges call. We would have won the time trial too, but we had a cheeky stop at the hay bales, which of course he popped over no worries after the class!
During this time he kept coming up sore after long weekends. Especially bad after a long weekend at a Campdraft school. I got him chiro’d again, no help. I decided the time had come to get the handmade stock saddle I had always wanted, and get it custom fit to Bundy. I also ordered a Thinline Pad (A ground-breaking American product) to help disperse pressure and shock.
What are we doing now?
I’ve now got my new saddle and got my Thinline pad yesterday. He felt very comfortable in it for a 10 minute ride yesterday. It was also suggested to me that he was tying up, causing soreness over his kidneys, so we are in the middle of a diet change from a sweetfeed to a low NSC diet consisting of Speedi-Beet, Copra and white chaff.
Once he is truly sound I am excited to bring him back into full work. I am planning on doing many more ASH shows this season, as well as getting to as many Campdrafts as I can. At the moment I am just concentrating on bringing him back and building some muscle with trail rides and a small amount of circle work out in the paddocks.
Our first big show is the National Youth Ash show in Gundagai in October. From then on there are numerous branch shows and Campdrafts to head to. I’m entering the world of show presentation and preparation, which is daunting to say the least, especially without stables! But we will get there.
I originally bought Bundy as a horse to work up and sell on, and I have no doubt that with his talent I could get a hefty sum for him. However, with all his problems I am tossing around the notion of having him as a keeper, at least for a few more years, and have him to learn the ropes of Campdrafting and ASH showing on. Hopefully make open Campdraft status… We will see how we go. He really is a lovely boy, so friendly, and also very safe and considerate. Once his issues are fixed, I would not hesitate to put a small child on him and trust him as a babysitter wether it be sporting or trail riding or chasing cows. He is just very level-headed, and nowadays he isn’t lazy but isn’t goey, he is just right. I am planning on getting lessons with Steve Hart once I have some money again, which will be great for both of us :]