Part 3″ Mirrabooka” horseman of the southern cross.

Sydney Showground was the Holy Grail for many horse enthusiasts of the time. To compete at Sydney Royal is what some of them lived for, and I mean lived for. Some travelled the countryside, sleeping rough at country shows in order to qualify for “The Royal”. For cattle and sheep folk on the land, showing their stock meant that they could increase their income as well as their prestige amongst their various communities. For some, winning at Sydney Royal would be the highlight of their lives.

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Horse people are no different, but there is something about horses that drive people to extremes. I have seen people who could not rub two coins together, struggling to feed their kids and keep a roof over their heads but with the most beautiful horses in immaculate condition. For some, it’s the love of their lives – no sacrifice is too great.

Others, loaded with money, have horses come and go, are always looking for the next champion and are happy to pay for it. If the battler, on occasion beats the toff, and this is rare, for the toffs have all the connections, you can be certain that next year the toff will appear with the battler’s horse, and the battler will have a new horse float and still be loaded up with hungry kids.

High stepping hackney ponies plough around the perimeter of the showground pulling immaculately polished carts, each with a very important looking gentleman with a long stick aboard, most wearing bowler hats, their legs in the boiling Australian sun, covered carefully with little blankets.

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Posh looking women overly impressed with their own importance, sit sidesaddle aboard immaculately groomed show hacks. They file past Franz Mairinger, who is not accustomed to shows such as this in his native Austria, and he raises an eyebrow as they bounce clumsily by.

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Show jumping competitors are walking a course that they are obviously in awe of. Some, show trepidation at the impressive array of huge broad oxers, steep unforgiving uprights and the dreaded triple combination. Some of the competitors have never seen anything like this before and the feeling of nakedness in the centre of the Sydney Showground adds to their nervousness.

Mairinger is standing on a podium and as Horden joins him, he puts his hand on his friend’s shoulder stating proudly “Impressive course hey Franz?”

Mairinger surveying the course carefully replies “Sufficient, Mr Horden, but a far cry from what they will encounter at the Olympics.”

“It’s more of a course than anyone has ever seen in this country.” replies Horden.

In the warm up area, horses are intermittently jumping a flimsy looking vertical jump and just as Horden walks past, a horse smashes through the fence breaking one of the poles.

“Get another pole.” orders Horden.

I skinny pimple faced kid who has been flat out rebuilding the warm-up jumps as they are destroyed, runs off and returns with another rail.

“Gentleman could I have your attention for a moment please?” calls Horden in a load voice.

The competitors gather around him, some mounted and some on foot as Horden addresses the group.

“I think gentlemen, you are all aware, that up for grabs today are positions in the first Australian Olympic Equestrian Team. The man who will coach that team, Franz Mairinger, will judge you. It is our concern that some of you and your mounts may not have the fitness to compete in a serious
3 Day Event. Obviously those who have been training with Mr Mairinger have an understanding of the gruelling workload that will be imposed. Those that have not, consider what riding you have been doing lately, consider the level of fitness and age of both yourself and your horse and if you don’t think you are up to it, do us all a favour and retire now so we can focus on the young men who are better suited.”

Two of the competitors standing and listening are considerably older than the rest of the group and look to be in their 40s, whilst the others were mostly in their 20s. The older men were Bill Roycroft and Laurie Morgan. It was apparent that the age remarks had been aimed at these two; for there were no others in the competition conspicuous for their years.

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                                                      Laurie Morgan and Bill Roycroft

Roycroft and his mate Morgan had been competing all over their native Victoria, beating all comers at shows week after week. They had no doubt that they would be in the reckoning by the end of the day.

Roycroft was share farming with his young family and gained his riding fitness by catching and breaking brumbies, his toughness and ability are not deminished  by his years.

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A rush of greenery, the thunder of hooves, panning back, a herd of wild horses, brumbies galloping down a bush track, behind a single rider barreling along swinging and cracking a stockwhip. Flanking him on both sides were two other riders ducking branches and jumping logs at breakneck speed whilst keeping the mob together, stopping them from wheeling off in either direction.

Ahead is a set of stockyards made up of a large central yard with several smaller yards on either side of the main gate. The riders have done their jobs well and the wild horses file through the gate and into the main yard followed by the central rider close behind, whilst one of the wingmen moves in quickly to secure the gate. The group of around 15 horses fit easily into the large yard with the following rider keeping them together skillfully and with his cracking stockwhip, the horses’ wheel their way around the yard until they are controlled close to the gate through which they originally entered. Just as one terrified horse braves the stockwhip and ducks under the lash, Bill Roycroft notices the gate at the other end of the holding yard is not secured. The rebel horse bolts for the gate and the other horses emboldened by his action, follow; the gate and freedom beckoning.

As the crow flies, the most direct route to the far gate is through the smaller holding yards on the side of the main yard. Roycroft gallops his horse directly at the 5 foot fence and his horse jumps it without a thought, one stride another fence, another stride another fence, a short dash and Roycroft reaches the gate before the panicking horses do.

Secured in the holding yards, the horses mingle around, a water trough is filled and Roycroft throws several bales of hay into the enclosure. The three men stand on the bottom rail of the yards leaning over the fence with the lead rider viewing the bunch with a knowledgeable eye.

“Not a bad bunch aye.” states Bill.
The wingman agrees, “Yeah, coupla goodies there, any ya fancy as jumpers Bill?”
Roycroft is always on the lookout for his next competition horse, “Could be mate, but we’ll have to wait to find out, I’m off to Sydney tomorrow for the Olympic trials.” Roycroft’s mates were always ribbing him about his age and the way he is able to keep up with the young fellas, “Bit long in the tooth for that aren’t you Bill?” replies his friend with a wry smile. “Don’t you start!” smiles Bill.

Whilst Horden had given his previous speech in the warm up area at the show, the man standing next to Roycroft was Laurie Morgan. Morgan, also in his 40s is an awesome all round athlete, supremely fit and would easily handle men half his age. He had been a serious boxer and a top level Australian Rules footballer, however his love was horses and he came with Bill fully intent on making this team. Morgan has a work ethic second to none bordering on obsessive, he expects no more from the people around him than he does from himself and that is perfection, nothing less. He is super-competitive and does not cope particularly well with defeat. Morgan can be a little prickly, but he is a leader, the kind who always takes the ball up and leads by example. Few who knew him would doubt his ability to make this team.

The football season had recently finished and Morgan had been mustering cattle in North Queensland in order to raise funds for his equestrian pursuits. The stark reds and greens of tropical North Queensland were the backdrop for a herd of Brahman cattle meandering along, stirring up clouds of red dust amongst the tropical greenery which was still flourishing despite the rains finishing some weeks earlier. An assortment of Aboriginal and white stockmen rode lazily amongst the slow moving cattle, pushing them steadily toward a narrow river crossing. Steep banks on either side of the well-worn track funneled the cattle into a narrow formation. As the first cattle approached the river, the water suddenly erupted as a huge saltwater crocodile lunged forward, narrowly missing the cattle closest to the water’s edge.

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The lead cattle shied and ran backward into those following behind as does one of the stockmen’s horses, and the rider is lucky to keep his seat. The herd scattered away from the river crossing.

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Morgan, who is employed as the head stockman, witnesses the incident. “Ugly big bastard, hold it there fellas, don’t push ’em, the bloody crocks back.”
An Aboriginal stockman rides up beside Morgan, “We won’t be crossin here boss, he’s gonna protect his hole and he looks hungry. He’s bigger every year.”

Morgan is agitated, “I have to get back to the homestead Jimmy. I leave for Sydney tonight, for trials.”
Jimmy knows Morgan’s intensity and never-say-die attitude, “How you gonna manage that boss?”
“Listen Jimmy, you take charge, work your way down to the east with the mob to the next crossing but I have to get back today.”

Morgan rides up onto a raised section of the bank and looks off in both directions. Another stockman rides up beside Jimmy, “What he looking for?”
“Watch.” replies Jimmy.
Morgan had apparently seen what he was looking for and he galloped off to the west where the river narrowed to about 20 feet. He rode away from the river to give his horse time to gather momentum, he then turned and headed directly for the narrowest span of water.

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Without breaking his stride, the horse leapt over the river, just landing on the water’s edge on the far side. With an almighty splash, the water exploded as the crock rushed toward the commotion, but Morgan and his horse were up and out of the water before there was any real danger. Scrambling out onto the dry ground on the other side, they continued at a gallop off into the distance.

Jimmy calls behind, “Good luck boss, ya crazy bastard!”

Part 8 re training the ex racehorse

As the horse is moving around you in leg yield ask him to halt at the time he is closest and parallelto a fence or wall. This needs to be solidly established, utilising both voice command and a physical halt aid initiated and support by inside flexion. By breaking the alignment of the horses spine with inside flexion and bend and a slight leg yield we reduce the horses ability to resist and with well timed reward will promote submission leading to to soft and obedient halts and eventually transitions in general . Eventually you will be able to move along the wall periodically flexing to a halt combined with voice command. Utilising the whip and voice commands ask the horse to walk forward and then halt repeatedly until it becomes
conditioned reflex.

Horses From Courses
by Scott Brodie

Available for purchase on Apple iBooks, Google Books, Amazon Kindle, Kobo and other online ebook vendors.

Every year thousands of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses, often referred to as OTTB, (off-the-track thoroughbreds) retire from the racing industry, their future uncertain. Many well-meaning horse enthusiasts seek to take these horses and retrain them for sport and recreational purposes.

This book takes the accumulated experience and knowledge of horse trainer Scott Brodie—Manager of the NSW Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust and re trainer of hundreds of ex-racehorses—and allows the novice trainer to tap into this valuable source of information previously unattainable for the average horse enthusiast.

Scott Brodie author of Horses From Courses is Manager of the RacingNSW Thoroughbred Retraining Program. A NSW Mounted Police horse trainer and classically trained rider, Scott has a has a generously empathetic philosophy to handling horses and a unique spin on the retraining of retired racehorses. Utilising a surprisingly smooth synergy of natural horsemanship and the practical application of classical dressage, Scott’s systematic approach to this often difficult and dangerous endeavour ensures the smoothest and fairest transition for the horse from racing machine to a pleasurable riding partner.

Part 2 “Mirrabooka” Horseman of the southern cross.

Some hours later, the Anzac Day march is complete, the mounted police are now escorting the Light Horse troops through the city on their way back to the Sydney Showground at Moore Park, which has been used as a marshalling point for the returned service personnel on horseback.

Each trooper has been assigned a mounted officer and they ride back two abreast.
Constable Brodie has been assigned to a man called Neal Lavis. Now Neal is a lovely quiet bloke, with the air of a horseman. There is a quietness that comes with true horsemen, particularly when they are riding or are around horses. It is a respect for the animal, for the horse is most at ease when things are calm and consistent. The horse wants to be relaxed in a field of lush green grass, rhythmically swatting away a few flies with his tail, or having them swatted by his mate’s tail as they stand top to tail, warm summer days with a slight breeze acting as an early warning system should a strange smell arise, high on a hill where they can see for miles. So safe that they can happily lay on the soft green bed confident that their herd mates will watch for danger and signal to them with plenty of time to spare. This is all a horse can want; every step closer to this makes a horse happier. This is how a horseman feels, he sets the horse at ease, offers no confusing signals and allows the horse to relax at every opportunity; a horseman is like a green field in spring. Neil had this vibe and Constable Brodie recognised it as they rode together.

“What do you do with your horses?” asked Neil.
“I event,” said Brodie “but I love dressage and have a great instructor, Tina Womelsdorf”
“I know Tina, she trained with my instructor Franz Mairinger.”
“Franz Mairinger? Tina talks about him all the time, I have read his book, I feel like I know him.”
“I knew him well.”
“Did you ride dressage?”
“No eventing.”
“What level did you ride to?”
“I won a gold medal at the Rome Olympics trained by Franz.”
“Oh my God, sorry mate, I had no idea! I would love to hear about it and learn more about Franz. I think someone should write a book on his life.”
“Once we get these horses put away let’s go and have a beer and I’ll tell you all about it.”

That evening the two men met up to talk horses. Neil Lavis was an unassuming quiet man, thoughtful and confident in his 70’s with a fantastic memory. He had been in his late teens and early twenties at the time of the incidents he would now impart; but as he spoke it could have been yesterday. The Olympic gold medalist began to tell an amazing story, a story, which truly rivals that of the great Don Bradman, a story that all Australians should be aware of. It would be the first of many versions of this story that Constable Brodie would hear over the next few years on his quest to bring to light this amazing journey.

The year was 1952, and Australia was still recovering from the Second World War, times had been tough. As is known now, but were not so then, men that returned from war often returned with issues. Today many would be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and treated medically, though one could argue that even more could be done today. In those days, it wasn’t spoken of, some turned to drink, some turned to crime, most found something to keep them busy. Some of Australia’s, and in fact the world’s, greatest sportsmen were born out of this era. Men had obsessions that were somehow therapeutic, and if nothing else, kept them sane and out of trouble.

Horses are a great distraction, and a young, enthusiastic equestrian movement was developing in Australia. Australia has had a long and intimate relationship with the horse. In a huge country with sparse roads, once out of the main towns horses were still often the main form of transport. At that time, Australia is said to have ridden on the sheep’s back, referring to the importance of the wool industry but stockmen, cattlemen, shepherds and farmers of all types still relied heavily on horses in their day to day life. Most country children had been raised on the backs of horses riding to school, riding on the farm, competing at pony club and local shows. Unfortunately, to an extent, the classical riding skills and techniques of European origins had been bastardised into something that “just got the job done” plenty of grit and determination but not much style and grace.

There were plenty of horses too. The racing industry in Australia was strong and it had held the country together through the depression where the great Pharlap thrilled the struggling masses, creating at least something to cheer about in times of not much cheer.

The Australian thoroughbred is hardy and tough and most riding horses in Australia had a healthy splash of thoroughbred blood, all except the heavier draft breeds who had forged roads, plowed fields and pulled trees for the building of the country. I specifically refer to the “Australian thoroughbred” because though most all-purpose horses had some thoroughbred background, so too, did the Australian thoroughbred have some mongrel blood. The thoroughbred racing fraternity would not entertain the idea that the thoroughbred breed had been tainted by impure blood, but the facts were that at this time many racehorses were registered from an unknown station mare or unknown stallion. This splash of mongrel led to a tougher, hardier type than the European thoroughbred; a hybrid vigour if you like. These horses made an easy transition when ridden by gutsy tough riders from the racing world into the world of equestrianism. Most had very good jumping blood having originated in Ireland, where to this day, there is more jump racing than flat racing. Most people in the equestrian world fail to recognise the dynasty of the Thoroughbred as a jumping horse.

From the time racing began, there have been jumps races; point to point, steeple chase and hurdles. No other breed has been bred for as long for this purpose. In Europe where equestrianism has a heritage unbroken back to the time of Xenophon
2500 years ago, purpose bred horses had been developed for hundreds, if not thousands of years for the purpose of carrying men into battle, they needed to be strong, fast and nimble or their riders would have their heads removed. These horses had a balance of these qualities but not the endurance, speed and athleticism of the thoroughbred, who had been specifically developed for exactly these attributes.

On this particular day, a group of such Australian men and horses were gathered in
Sydney’s Centennial Park, something was afoot, a race was about to be run, a gathering of semi professional looking jocks on horses of the thoroughbred type were bustling about, generally trotting out, half out of control, struggling not to crash into each other. Occasionally, expletives could be heard yelled loudly as close calls occurred and crashes just averted.

Sitting on a well-mannered but similarly conformed horse was a young ex-solider dressed in polo apparel, he was watching the goings on with great interest. Eventually he rode up to the organiser of the race.
“Can I get a start?”
The organiser looked up, “In that get up?” referring to the polo apparel as opposed to the racing apparel worn by most of the other riders.
“Just for fun.” replied the rider.

His name was Brian Crago. Crago was a bit of a rogue, loved a bet, loved a joke and loved horses. His cheeky bravado hid a love and real respect for his equine partners, he had been raised as a rider, and as riders go, he was a good one. His father had been a horseman and had taught him more gentle compassionate ways of training a horse at a time when breaking-in meant what it sounded like; breaking a horse’s spirit until he gave up and submitted to the will of tough, hard men who saw them as tools of the trade. Crago recognised that by getting a horse to work with you, rather than simply working him, gave you a better result. Crago had done his service and returned to Australia where he had taken some interest in polo, flat racing, point to point racing and anything on which a bet could be laid. He was at his happiest when he could combine his two great loves, betting and horses in the one place.

Crago paid his entry fee, and headed straight to a bookmaker giving odds on the race soon to start.
“What odds can I get?” asked Crago
“On a polo pony?” returned the bookie “30 to 1.”
“I’ll have 20 pounds.” Crago immediately fired back.
“Done.” said the bookmaker, easy money as far as he was concerned. There were some serious ex-racehorses here that would definitely outrun this little polo pony regardless of his breeding or how well he was ridden.

At this point a vehicle pulled up close by. The driver turned to his passenger, “I think you might appreciate this Mr Mairinger.” The two men alighted to watch the goings on. The driver was Anthony Horden, a well-known man about town and a very successful businessman. He had been an outstanding sportsman in has day, it seemed he excelled in anything he put his mind to. Horden had a love of equestrianism and lamented the fact that Australia had never had a team compete at the Olympic Games. He recognised the potential of the Australian riders and horses but also recognised that without the right mentor, a trainer with the finesse of the great European riders, Australia may never reach the heights it had in just about every other Olympic event.
Enter Franz Mairinger. Franz was a good-looking man with the familiar air of a horseman. Quietly unassuming and missing nothing through his dark rimmed glasses, he had the look of a professor or artist and he certainly stood out amongst the crowd.

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                                                                            Franz Maringer

It is widely know that at the conclusion of the Second World War, many of the great classical art works of Europe were stolen or otherwise acquired and distributed around the world. Less recognised is the distribution of great artists who left Europe to find new homes across the globe. They have enriched society and changed the world in many ways. One classical artist who made his way to Australia was the great Franz Mairinger.

Franz was not an artist in the sense that he painted or sculpted, nonetheless, he was one of the finest artists in the world at that time, for Franz was a head rider at the infamous magnificent Spanish Riding School in Vienna, 500 years in the pursuit of equestrian perfection underpinned his classical training. Franz was selected from amongst the best riders of the Austrian cavalry to be accepted into the school. He rose through the ranks to become a head rider.

During the war, the Spanish Riding School came under the control of the Nazi party and was forced to perform under the shadow of the swastika. At the end of the war, when the Russian army was flooding down from the north devouring everything in its path, it was not easy to feed an army. The Lipizzaner mares, the breeding stock of the School, were at the School’s farm in Lipaza in the former Yugoslavia, their fate, should no action be taken, was certain, and the ancient breed was at risk of being lost. Franz, along with other members of the school, performed for General MacArthur of the U.S. Army to convince him that an operation should be mounted to rescue the mares. MacArthur was so impressed, that such an operation was undertaken and the mares were brought out of harms way.

At the conclusion of the war, Franz decided that he would leave Europe to find a better life for his family. He eventually arrived in Australia and gradually his prowess as a rider and trainer became known. Horden saw what he needed and he approached Mairinger to become coach of the first ever Australian equestrian team. Mairinger, who had been working in factories in South Australia, jumped at the chance to get back to his first true love.

So here they were; the reason there were so many horses and riders in town was the upcoming Sydney Royal Show. Horden and Mairinger had invited all comers to attend and demonstrate their abilities. It would be the major selection opportunity for those interested in trying to make the Australian Olympic Team. Mairinger and Horden, delighted at the prospect of seeing some horse competition, walked closer to where the starter was taking up his position to address the racers.

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“Alright, alright hold those horses.” called the starter as he stood on a stump by the top rail of a white fence that ran off into the distance. He called out to the men waiting for his instructions, “Ok, its very simple, race starts on my left, the course runs down the length of this fence.” The fence was of the typical post and rail construction standing about six feet tall and painted white, it was used of a morning for the local racehorses in training as a running rail.

“Exactly half a mile down there, you turn through the gate come back and finish on my right. First to cross the line is the winner, start on my left, finish on my right, other than that there are no rules.” The announcement of no rules was met with a boisterous cheer from the riders and the crowd. It alluded to what could be a physical encounter and the turn at the other end could be particularly dangerous with so many horses going from full gallop in one direction to full gallop in the other.

 

Horden turned to Mairinger “A little friendly competition before the show tomorrow.”
Mairinger smiled, he had had his rough and tumble days on horseback whilst a member of the Austrian cavalry, “A fine selection of horses.”

The starter boomed “Okay, bring me up to the line. Go!!!”

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They were off, thundering down the dirt riding track which was on the left hand side of the fence, there was much whooping and hollering, some, caught by the quickness of the start were still facing the wrong direction and they spun and followed the throng, there would be ample chance for a brave rider to make up ground with a good turn. As they raced off into the distance, one combination is left at the start; it is Crago on his polo pony. The pony is agitated at the sudden exit of the other horses; Crago sits deep and quiet, legs draped calmly around the horse’s girth.

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                            there is more than one way to skin a cat

This fellow is not racing?” enquired Mairinger.
“Seems not.” replied Horden.
“Looks like you wasted your cash!” laughed the bookmaker with his acquaintances.
The racing horses started to slow in order to make the sharp and dangerous u turn so as to return on the other side of the fence, several riders are unable to pull their mounts up, such is the excitement and in some cases lack of education of the horses they are riding.

As the first of the group turn to head for home with half a mile to run, Crago turns his horse who is now working in a highly collected canter almost on the spot, away from the fence, he rides out for 10 yards or so. Mairinger’s interest is turned to Crago and his little polo pony not more than 15 hands, but looking every bit as majestic as any of the classical equine statues sprinkled about Europe. Franz though that he would not have looked out of place at the Spanish Riding School.

As the horses are approaching the finish line, not more than 100 yards to run, Crago allows his horse to go forward, with two powerful strides he launches himself over the white fence dividing the finish line, the horse lands, spins right and canters calmly across the finish line before the other racers arrive flat out under the whip.

The bookmakers and punters cry out angrily and approach the starter, they are filthy. How could this be right? He didn’t run the race! By this time the horses and jockeys are arriving back at the finish line after pulling their horses up. “Protest, protest!” comes the call. No one is happy and confusion rules the day.

The starter is unsure of what to make of it, no one had considered this outcome.
Noticing Horden and Mairinger standing interested at the goings-on, the starter calls to the well-known Mr Horden.
“Mr Horden what do you make of this?”
Horden looked to Mairinger “What do you think Franz?”
Mairinger replied, “He did say, ‘start on the left, finish on the right, other than that, no rules’”.
Horden nodded “Indeed he did.” In a loud voice he repeated Mairinger’s statement.
The starter points to Crago an announces “The winner!”
The announcement is met with boos and discontent. Mairinger calls to the starter “Perhaps you should give the other riders the opportunity to ride the same route?”
“Good idea, you heard! Any takers?”
No one came forward.

“Bazaconi” part 15 racehorse, ridinghorse,therapist.

It looked like Bazaconi had found a new calling. He was going to teach people to get in touch with horses and themselves. I’m no therapist, but if what I do with horses can help people, I’m pretty happy.

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Baz is featuring in my journey as a facilitator of equine assisted experiential therapy. I wish there was a softer word than therapy; the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder soldiers had been therapied out of their minds. After the first day at the camp, the participants were blazing around the campfire. Happy smiles with talk developing of new friendships. Friends who knew how you felt and shared in your excitement. It had been a long time since some of these guys had enjoyed this camaraderie.

It is inspiring and Baz had played a big part of it, the soldiers’ knew Bazaconi’s story as well as you do. They related to his torrid life and could see that he had triumphed and become an inspiration to people in their positions.
The retreat at Kangaroo Valley was an absolute success, largely on Bazaconi’s back but with the help of several other beautiful equine therapists. Six out of the seven participants have continued with their equine journey by volunteering at the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Trust. The change in some of them from the time we met is astonishing.

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Bazaconi is going from strength to strength as a teacher, with me using him to educate our volunteers and staff. He is proving to be a hit at Cana Farm where we deal with disassociated people. Those dealing with addiction, homelessness, refugees, people with mental health issues, ex-prison inmates and others. Cana can see the benefit of horses working with people and Bazaconi is becoming the poster child. It is interesting how people who have dealt with adversity and come out the other side, often become the best mentors for those following similar journeys.

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It seems Baz was just another, putting back into the system that took him in and helped him through. Baz has continued to develop as a riding horse, he is now teaching other riders to sit quietly and consider their reactions. I will continue Bazaconi ‘s education as a riding horse. This year I will take him out to some competitions and I have no doubt that he will do the best he can for me as will I for him. I said I would never let him down and I won’t.

As Bazaconi’s journey continues, I will keep you informed of his progress, thank you for enjoying his story to this point. Your interest is another positive which can be attributed to Bazaconi, raising the awareness of what we do for these magnificent creatures.

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“Bazaconi” part 14 finding his calling.

We had set up a portable round yard very similar to the one at home and I had seen Bazaconi

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gallop around in there a hundred times, so I knew he would put on a spectacular display when we put him in and let him go. After reassurance to some of the participants that I wouldn’t over face them, and that no-one had to do anything they weren’t comfortable with, we got hands on.

I did a little demonstration using Baz. By this time, with me, our join up sessions were not all that exciting. If I didn’t chase him away he would stick to me like glue. I gave the soldiers a rundown on how it worked. I sent Bazaconi out by creating some energy, in this case I used a lunge whip, but what you use to create energy is irrelevant, throw your arms around, chase them, use a Parelli carrot stick or even a dressage whip with a plastic bag tied to the end.

Keep the energy levels up until the horse believes you are pushing him, not him just running away from you, there is a huge difference.

Bazaconi was great, not too crazy and still having a nice canter, he had one ear on me at all times waiting for a command, pretty good in a strange environment. There is a school of physiology called “gestalt” put forward by a guy called, you guessed it, Gestalt. It revolves loosely around how all creatures are affected by our environment and in part, it concluded that we are instinctively relaxed in our most familiar environment with constant cues and surroundings. With Bazaconi, I had become his gestalt, it didn’t matter where we went as long as I was there giving the well worn cues and constant aids, he could relax, he was safe. This is how you need your horse to be if you want to have him with you when you go out to competitions and such. For instance, this is super important for a police horse. So as soon as I stopped applying pressure, Baz came running to me. As I walked around the arena giving my description on how things worked, he was constantly within touching distance. I watched an awesome example of this once with horses in the paddock and I wish I had videoed it.

I have a big Warmblood gelding named Snippy, posh name, Millfield Samurai. He is
17.3 hands and 700kg. Snippy is very dominant and is often in the paddock with the thoroughbreds and does a good job of teaching them manners. Most have no idea of paddock etiquette. When they come of the track, most have never been on their own with an adult horse in a herd situation since they left their mothers, maybe as long as 10 years. Snippy is a very good teacher as he does a lot of biting around feed time. No-one questions him but they all want to be with him – normal herd behaviour.

On this one occasion, I put a pretty little mare in the herd and she wanted nothing to do with the geldings, turning and kicking and squealing every time they came near. She did it to Snippy once, and then he went to work, giving her a hard bight on the rump when she presented to kick. She kicked again, he bit harder and off she went with Snippy giving chase. Now with Snippy’s size chasing a nimble little thoroughbred filly around a two acre paddock is bloody hard work, she must have been a real good sort. Every time she kicked, he raised his head to avoid getting hit and bit her bum at every opportunity. He chased her for about five minutes flat out, eventually she started to get sick of it, but Snippy persisted in making her run. It’s about this time that most horse owners panic “quick get her out, he is going to kill her” two more bursts of chase and then Snippy let her stop. The mare walked briskly up to Snippy putting her nose into his shoulder, and she was never more than touching distance
away from Snip for the next two months. A perfect join up, she was distraught every time I took him to work.

So that’s how it worked with Baz and I. Bazaconi would be suspicious of the soldiers when
they came into the yard and if they didn’t take control of the situation, he wouldn’t respect them. Too passive no result, too aggressive no result. I stood with the first girl when she came in so I could talk quietly to her and direct her. With two of us in the yard, Baz’s gestalt was broken and I got my student to cut him off and make him change direction in order to regain his attention.  Initially when she went toward the side of the round yard to cut him off, she didn’t allow enough time to get in front of him and he rushed past even faster. He, felt like he was running away from her, it was imperative that he believed she could direct him. In a small round yard with Baz cantering pretty fast, she needed be looking at Baz, turn at least 180 degrees and head quickly to the far side of the arena. Don’t worry that you feel like you are moving away from the horse, he will very quickly be there. Create energy in front of his eyeline and send him back in the other direction, she couldn’t believe how much influence she could have on such a powerful wild looking creature. A few more quick changes of direction and then the tell tale sign of Bazaconi’s inside ear came to her – he was listening, concentrating. He started to anticipate her changes of direction, she now only needed to threaten to move to the side of the arena and he responded. Her energy and anxiety levels were able to drop and as she was becoming constant with her communication, Baz focused more. Now, by relieving the pressure by turning away, lowering body height, relaxing shoulders, and talking in a calming tone, she could show Baz that she was no longer making him run, Bazaconi stopped and faced her. She was relieved and a little exhausted. Baz was switched on, focused with both eyes and both ears. She sent him off again, stopped him again and Baz came to her. You have never seen such a smile; she looked like she would burst with pride.

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I was proud of Bazaconi, he followed her around like a puppy dog. She gave him a good old pat, first lesson complete. Bazaconi’s increasing intelligence and focus made him a great teacher and he responded immediately to every minor cue either correct or incorrect.

One soldier down, six more to go. I decided I would use Bazaconi for all of them. Yes he knew the game better and better with each soldier, and he penalised them if they got it wrong, but he rewarded them generously if they got it right. Just like a good horse trainer, Bazaconi had learnt well how to train his humans. Every one of the soldiers got a good join up by the end of the session and Baz seemed to love it at the end of each job as he got real love from someone who felt they had made a real connection with another creature. Some soldiers had not had this connection since they had returned from their armed service. Wow, they were all beaming. What a great start to the week. Baz was a star.

End part 14

part 1 “Mirrabooka” Horseman of the Southern Cross

A few years ago myself and a mate Dean Corke, decided to write a screen play based on stories I had been told by my instructor Tina womelsdorf. The stories revolved around her instructor the great Franz Maringer, his arrival in Australia and subsequent success as a coach of Australian equestrian sport. The more we dug, the more incredible information we discovered, if we had made the stories up we were hearing, people would have said they were too far fetched, too Disney. We presented the story to iconic Australian actor Bryan Brown. Bryan agreed that this story had to be told. With Bryan We put some effort into trying to get someone to pick up the story and run with it. There was plenty of interest, However it seemed the cost was prohibitive, the story was put on the shelf untold. I have decided to take what we had written as a screen play and just tell the story, it has to be told, so here it comes.

Over the coming weeks I will relay the story as it was told to me by many of the people involved in personal interviews, conversations and writings as well as some poetic license _one can’t let the truth get in the way of a good yarn. Described as” a Bradman-esque  Australian story that must be told” by Bryan brown. Personally, I would describe it as  “The man from snowy river meets rocky”.

I hope you enjoy this portrayal as much as I did as it was passed on to me by those who were part of the story , they include Olympians Bunty Thompson, Neal Lavis, Bill Roycroft and his sons, Irna Maringar wife of Franz . Tina womelsdorf one of Franz ‘s students and others who had insight into the story. The version I have put together is based on all the versions told to me plus my romantic spin, however in general, the most outrageous incidents depicted are those that are most accurate .

It is widely know that at the conclusion of the 2nd world war many of the great classical art works of Europe were stollen or otherwise acquired and distributed around the world. Less recognised, is the distribution of great artists who left Europe, to find new homes across the globe, they have enriched society and changed the world in many ways. One classical artist who made his way to Australia was the great Franz Maringer.

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Franz was not an artist in the sense that he painted or sculpted, none the less he was one of the finest artists in the world at that time.
Franz was a head rider at the magnificent Spanish riding school in Vienna, 500 years of the pursuit of equestrian perfection underpinned his classical training.
Franz was selected from amongst the best riders of the Austrian cavalry to be accepted into the school. He rose through the ranks to become a head rider.
During the war, the Spanish riding school came under the control of the Germans and was forced to perform under the shadow of the the swastika.

At the end of the war when the Russian army was flooding down from the north, literally devouring everything in its path, it not easy to feed an army, the Lipizzaner mares, the breeding stock of the school were at the schools farm in the former Yugoslavia, there fate, should no action be taken was certain and the ancient breed was at risk of being lost.

Franz, along with other members of the school performed for general MacArthur of the U.S. Army to convince him that an operation should be mounted to rescue the mares. MacArthur was so impressed, that such an operation was mounted and the mares were brought out of harms way.
A movie was made about this operation.
At the conclusion of the war, Franz decided that he would leave Vienna.
He eventually arrived in Australia.
At the time Australia had a burgeoning equestrian community, loaded with Australian thoroughbred horses and keen, brave and resourceful horseman. Some had returned from armed service and we’re looking for some focus to give meaning to there lives.
The combination of one of the greatest horseman of our time, the Australian thoroughbred horse and riders hungry for competition were about to merge to create an Olympic equestrian dynasty still influenced by all of these factors to this very day.

“Mirrabooka” Horseman of the southern cross

It is Anzac Day, in central Sydney. A full troop of NSW police mounted police stand silently by the side of the road dressed in full ceremonial uniform. The streets are deserted, the ground is wet following light showers the previous evening. The city is a strange place at this hour, most of the drunks from the night before have jumped into taxis or stumbled their way of into the suburban distance.
You might find one asleep in a door way, you can tell they’ve only been there for a few hours, they’re dressed differently to the regulars, the homeless folk who camp out in the quite city every night, they’re the ones with the plastic bags full of God only know what, they wear 5 layers of clothing. The one night standers are cold, shivering, curled up or sprawled with their mouths open maybe a small puddle of sputum close by.

The garbage trucks haven’t arrived yet, there is this short period of real quiet.
The silence is Broken this morning by a distant Echo, it gradually becomes recognisable as the clattering of horses hooves on the pavement, a second troop of horses appear from a side street and heads toward the mounted police troop. The commanding police officer brings the mounted troop to attention. ” troop! ateeeention!” .

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The second troop have a relaxed Blasé vibe, no one sits to attention, their lances are not held upright at a consistent angle, as are those of the mounted police, there is a less polished, less practiced air about them but also a calm confidence, the two units move off as one. At closer Inspection, it can be seen that the second troop of horseman are all older men some in their 80s, maybe older, they are the remnants of light horse and cavalry troops, those that fought in wars since the turn of the century through until the 2nd world War. It is a little known fact, that Australian mounted infantry patrolled the top end of the massive continent of Australia. Who knows what they were to have done in case of an invasion, but should planes have been seen heading south across the the outback toward the major cities, the alarm would have been raised. They were there with their pack horses and swags, hi tech! Long since, and thankfully, replaced by radar systems.

The now Swollen troop of horses wound their way through the city, the echo of hooves off the sides of the skyscrapers is a strange but some how comforting sound it feels right for some weird reason.
The residence of inner Sydney always comment as to how safe they feel when they hear the Mounties clattering by in the quiet of the night. As the horses approach Martin place, the rallying point for the march the rumbling of a crowd begins to become apparent, interspersed with the sound of musical instruments being tuned and tried as in an orchestra pit before the arrival of the conductor. Gradually the crowd takes some loose order, hardly military precision but somehow organised, similar to that of the mounted soldiers. Hundreds of men and women are now formed into units ready for the start of the annual Anzac Day March, commemorating the efforts of Australian and New Zealand troops in all modern theatres of war, ANZAC, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

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Crowds of tens of thousands now line the streets. On command the mounted police troop form up, their precision is practiced and polished their horses and tack are immaculate, they take up position at the front of the procession, the light horse fall in behind.

On command, a young female mounted officer breaks way from the troop, she looks barely old enough to be out of school, it is a stark contrast to the elderly men sitting quietly on their mounts. You can tell when you are getting old,  the police look younger and younger, the constable makes her way to the light horse troop where she positions herself next to the oldest rider. Though nearly 90, Cec McDonald is a proud and somehow bright eyed individual, he has a confident but relaxed demeanour and the look of a fellow who would have been handsome in his day, had the constable been here 70 years ago he would have turned on the charm and no doubt had her blushing astride her immaculate police horse . Cec is also the oldest surviving mounted trooper in Australia, 2 new hips, 1 knee and a Triple bypass but still he is here, he wouldn’t miss this for quids. He is sitting aboard a wiry stock horse. Cecil’s horse is dwarfed by the handsome police mount now positioned beside him. The stock horse looks as though he was probably pulled out of the paddock this morning, healthy and happy, but with the look of grooming that can only be attribute to a man, one, which respects his mount enough to groom him for comfort and health, but not necessarily to show standard.
The little horse is agitated at the atmosphere,  the old man sits unfazed, his legs draped down the horses narrow rib cage, the stirrups appear to be only an afterthought, they are holding no weight, he is balanced within himself, appearing to sit into, rather than onto the horse. He appears to almost melt into the saddle, he holds the reins slightly looped in one hand raised in readiness, just above the Pommel of his stock saddle, his other arm hangs relaxed by his side.

The female constable approaches Cecil, a little nervously but totally respectful of the old horseman. “I’ll be riding with you in today’s march Sir.”
“You mean babysitting me don’t you darling? ” comes the response, tongue in cheek, from Cecil.

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A pipe band strikes up, drums begin to pound, echoing and signalling loudly to all and sundry, the march has begun . The sudden thumping of the drums and the whining of the bag pipes are more than Cecil’s stock horse can cope with, without warning he attempts to spin, the old man with no obvious visual cues, gathers him under his seat, the horse though on the toe, remains obedient to Cecil’s invisible aids, the horse moves forward, neck arched, hind quarters lowered, hocks engaged, Setting a picture like something out of a baroque art work, seemingly about to explode, yet totally at the behest of Cecil’s masterly co ordination.
Cecil’s relaxed confidence is now joined by a quite pride, bubbling  below the surface of his calm exterior. There is no conscious thought in what he is doing to control the horse, conditioned reflex takes over, Cecil has the ability to influence the horse in this situation without consideration for what is required, leg, seat, weight, hands work in unison, truly, he is riding by the seat of his pants, there is more to this saying than meets the eye, those who have not ridden regularly could never begin to understand.

Cecil’s escort is in awe at the standard of horsemanship she has just witnessed, if only he were 70 years younger she thinks. What an honour to be in the presence of such a horseman.

Television cameras and roving media are all over the March. All over Australia people, relaxed in their pyjamas are eating toast with Vegemite or weetbix, drinking the first coffee of the day. After half an hour of time filling and recollection of famous battles, comments from the public and general time wasting, the announcers commence their commentary as they have done for the last 50 years, bouncing off each other as the March progresses.

“And the annual Anzac Day memorial march, as always led by the NSW Mounted Police.”
“And as always Bob, turned out immaculately”.
“Talking of turned out Gary, in what appears to be their final march on horseback, the remaining members of the Australian Lighthorse units, don’t they look fantastic”?
“Yes Bob, a controversial decision by the R.S.L. to end the traditional annual ride of these fine Australian horsemen, apparently for insurance reasons. “.
“That’s correct Gary, yes unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and I must say, in support of the R.S.L., for safety reasons, it’s probably for the best. ”

The first group of spectators passed by the parade are the war widows, for the participants in the March, this is an emotional moment, many of these women have spent their entire lives without the man they married, sometimes only days before they left to fight. Many have raised families on their own, there is a strange pride and admiration amongst the marchers for the sacrifice of these women, the thought sends a chill up the spine of the the constable escorting Cecil, a lump forms in her throat.

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Directly beyond the war widows, a small group of anti war protestors have secretly taken up position at the front of the crowd. Now as the mounted police pass by, they take their chance to disrupt proceedings, they produce a banner which they quickly unfurl . At the same time a hissing noise is audible, even over the following bands, as a bunch of firecrackers are lit and thrown at the feet of the parading horses.
The female constable can hardly contain her anger at this disrespectful act right next to the war widows, the fireworks have landed at the feet of her horse, they begin to explode in quick succession, sounding like a machine gun. With her emotions momentarily distracted her horse responds instinctively, he spins and begins to back up, his hind quarters are aimed at and heading straight for the war widows, most sitting in fold up chairs at the front of the crowd, they will never be able to get out of the way. The constable while trying to establish her proximity to the crowd momentarily looses control of her horse.
In a split second, Cecil, on his now dancing stock horse, reaches forward with his freehand, he takes the reins of the police horse and firmly but calmly encourages it forward, a disaster is everted, the panic on the face of the constable is replaced by relief. Unfazed, Cecil drops his arm calmly by his side once more, to the cheers of the watching throng he rides on as foot police arrested the protestors. The mounted constable, now regathered, tips her pith helmet to Cecil and trots forward to rejoin the troop of police horses, leaving the old man un escorted, he won’t be needing any help.

“Bazaconi” part 13 a devil in paradise ?

I arrived at “The Cedars” at kangaroo valley with Bazaconi and young lucky. Seriously you have to see this place to believe it.
It’s like a landscape out of Jurassic park, emerald green fields, lush sub tropical rain forest all framed on both sides buy an incredible stone escarpment, cliffs hundreds of meters high, the valley is so deep the sun rises there hours after the rest of the world. Wildlife abounds, if you ever had to take a tourist anywhere to show them Australia this is it. Kangaroos wallabies, echidna, wombats, platypus and the most incredible array of bird life, in the morning the kookaburras are deafening, latter in the day it’s the shrill of the bell birds and at night I have sat and identified 10 different frog calls with millions of them calling at once. It’s somewhere most Australians won’t get the chance to see.

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To top it off they breed prehistoric looking shire horses up t0 19 hands and 1000kg, absolutely magnificent. If you ever get the chance to check it out do so, in fact I might run a horsemanship weekend down there at some stage. Seriously, any interest ?

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So. nice place!.
The soldiers i would be working with had fought in various theatres of war, they had a variety of issues, they had all been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and where at different places in dealing with their issues. These guys and girls go off to war after being trained to firstly keep themselves alive and secondly kill when required. They are brainwashed to be good at what they do, they need to be, its life and death. One of them described the stress of being in Afghanistan when things were at the worst he said ” if you sleep, you wake up stressed, everything you do throughout the day is stressful, if you leave the base you are constantly on guard, if you are in the base you are constantly on guard” now we all have stressful days but try and deal with that for 6 months, every minute of your waking day stressed to the max, not one minute where you think I can finally relax.
In my opinion, anyone who goes to an active war zone is effected, as are cops, fireys and rescue personnel it’s just a matter of how much.
The soldiers, when they return, are constantly on guard, the instinct to be watching all the time, assessing, never leaves some of them. Everyone is a potential threat as is every circumstance in our, day to day boring lives, your nerves can only deal with this for so long, many withdraw, we have had guys that haven’t left there houses in 3 years, alcohol and drugs become a crutch, marriage breakdown is standard, I in 10 homeless people are ex service personnel.
Their issues effect at least an entire generation after them. My dads dad came back from Borneo at he end of the Second World War in a hospital ship suffering battle fatigue, he had been following the Japanese army as they retreated and was often the first to come in contact with the atrocities they had committed on Dutch settlers in that region, he saw stuff we aren’t meant to see. He spent two years having shock treatment, he never came back to dads mum, he went off married again, to wives at once, was a terrible womanise,r alcoholic and brutal to his children his children suffered, I think my dad was lucky he left, his children’s children had issues and his children’s children had issues, one was one of the most difficult juvenile offenders in the state. So,four generations effected, most of us are effected in some way by the Second World War, imagine places where they have constantly been at war for hundreds of years? What a mess.

Most of the guys had never dealt with horses before, when they saw Bazaconi and his mate galloping around like wild crazy things, I’m sure their stress levels went through the roof. I hoped I hadn’t bitten of more than I could chew bringing Baz, these guys needed to finish up feeling good about themselves not come away worse then when they arrived.

We talked through general horse and herd behaviour and spent the night at he camp fire getting to know each other. I recited a little banjo Patterson, we had a lovely dinner, they were starting to relax, this was all out of their comforter zones, as I said, just being out of there homes was a big deal for some. Pills to go to bed, pills to wake up, and god knows what other pills, most of our first night revolved around discussion about the best pain killers you can get.

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Tomorrow would be the beginning of the rest of their lives for as many of these guys as I could get hooked on horses, hopefully Bazaconi was going to help not hinder. The mental health of these good people was relying on us.

end part 13

“Bazaconi” part 12, a new direction

When I got bazaconi Home we went back to work.
It was like he hadn’t left. I was considering prepairing him for a dressage competition, I had decided that if I couldn’t tie down a future for him immediately, I would start to compete him. It would be good for the the TRT, it would bring further credibility to the program and improve Baz’s chances of finding another home.
I continued to consolidate his work, the period of light work with the failed new home had been good for him, his back had relaxed, it would be in better physical condition to move on with his education. I started to work on more accurate two track movements, I began to encourage some extension in his trot. He still needed to be ridden proactively at the canter but as long as he felt he was being ridden forward he was pretty good. Eventually his back got strong enough to cope with some longer periods of sitting trot.

At about this time I was due to hold a week long course for ex service personnel suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, it was to be held at the glorious “Cedars at kangaroo valley” I run these courses from time to time it’s considered experiential therapy and helps these guys and girls dramatically, it is quite inspirational. Horses are great teachers

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Bazaconi’s new students, ex service personnel from the “the Cedars equine experience ” kangaroo valley. With facilitators Scott Brodie and Barry digger on the beautiful shire horse, bred at the stud on the property. The equine assisted therapy sessions at the cedars are creating new hope for service personnel suffering the depilitating effects of PTSD. 

How can horses help soldier with PTSD ?
The horse is a social animal existing in extended family groups with complex friendships and relationships. In many ways equine society mimics primitive human society though, unaffected by our modern emotions, 1st world problems and preconceived moral and community boundaries.
Many of our raw natural instincts are still present, bubbling below the surface of the superficial day to day issues of modern life.
Instinct never ceases to exist unless there is a reason for it to do so.
For instance body language which we still use extensively, sometimes subconsciously, is still exhibited and deciphered every day of our lives. Our fight or flight response which is rarely called upon in our daily existence is still strong, under pressure it will rise to the surface.
Horses exhibit and survive by these instincts which for 50 million years have served them well.
There is ample opportunity for humans, when placed in a position where they have to communicate with these majestic, and on the surface completely different beings to get in touch with their primitive, but incredibly similar and influential instinctive responses.
When communicating with horses, humans are forced to get in touch with there ability to read subtle, but once recognised, obvious body language, they need to understand the effects of applying and relieving pressure with a prey animal, who has existed for millennia constantly under the threat of attack by predators, their senses adapted to detect the slightest change in environment or attitude.
The social hierarchy and order in the equine world is complex, for humans to interact successfully we need to slot ourselves into that hierarchy, portray ourselves as leaders and partners rather than threats and danger.
The rules are complex, horses thrive on leadership, contrary to common belief herds are lead by dominant mares they make the decisions and demand the most respect, this respect is often obtained in what we will perceive as extremely violent and aggressive fashion. Strangely this assertive behaviour draws horses to it, earning a strange but powerful reverence.
Working with horses, and recognising the strengths and weaknesses we live with on a day to day basis, helps us to unravel who we are, how we tick and how things that have effected our past lives influence and effect our here and now. Empathy, confidence, communication, assertiveness, respect and friendship are all things taught well by horses with their unaffected way of being, a portal to our long forgotten past which lies just below the surface of our modern un perceptive existence.

I would take a couple of ex racehorses with me to use on the course. The soldiers relate to the issues of the former race horse, both have been trained for a specific purpose only to find at the end of their careers that the training done in the past is negative to their ongoing lives.
I guess you could say Bazaconi suffered from a form of post traumatic stress, certain situation triggered negative reactions which he had no control over,I’m no therapist but I could see the similarities, I knew the soldiers would. Bazaconi would be a great candidate for the course he would be difficult for the soldiers to work with but they need to see some contrast, I decided to take another young horse who was super quite and very easy to handle, this would allow the soldiers to get a win and feel like they had achieved a result. Bazaconi, though difficult, would invoke empathy one of our goals in the course, even if most of them would fail to join up with him they would defiantly recognise and empathise with his issue.

end part 12

“Bazaconi” part 11, false start

 

 

After Bazaconi left, I went back to working some our other less chalanging horses, the lessons I had learnt from Baz would help every horse I trained from this day forward.
12 months had passed and I always say “no news is good news” wrong !
I got as message from Baz’s new owner saying she was having some issues.  ASAP I went out to see if I could help. I always make myself as available as possible to new owners, I am happy to ride the horse in the new home for the first time, I am happy help out with a tune up from time to time at the beginning of the new partnership, I am always available to answer questions and give direction.
When Baz had arrived at his new home he had been in work for 6 weeks and was jumping out of his skin. I advised that he should be let down for a few weeks. I always give fit horses coming out of the stable at least a two week break. In the first week they gallop around like maniacs and just get fitter, in the second week they start to relax, they get rid of any training soreness, their heads get a break from the mental work of training and they always come back better for the rest.
Baz had his two weeks break, coming back into work in the new environment needed to be done carefully, work in hand, lunging, systematically bringing him back to where he had been when he left me.
He would then need to be ridden calmly in the marketharborough. Any way!  the new owner had the support of the high level eventing instructors, they would help her get things on track she had all the information and I had told her so many times to take things slowly.
Issue number 1 the instructors had fallen through.
Issue number 2 marketharborough’s aren’t always readily available and everyone ” who knows” , will tell you “they do the same thing as rings/martingale”, wrong wrong wrong, the marketharborour used correctly on a horse trained for its use is way more effective than a martingale and works very differently.

So, no instructor, plus no marekharborour, plus no support = trouble for Bazaconi. Without instruction, the new owner had lunged Baz for couple of weeks, solid start, apparently he had been “up” in the new environment, expected. She hadn’t been able to get his attention on the lunge as he needed, correct answer, “call Scott” incorrect answer,  “just get on with it as he is.”

After two weeks of bringing  Baz back to full fitness rushing around on the lunge she got on, wrong!
If you don’t have their attention from the ground what makes you think you will get it on their back.
Anyway as you would expect, head in the air, no steering or breaks, now first you have to stay calm, Could you ? No. Off she came, broken arm and broken confidence.” Better call Scott”, No.
To her credit she battled on, got him working at the trot and walk but her nerves were shot.

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Baz with his new owner, if things had gone more smoothly at the start I believe she could have gotten the job done, I’m convinced my original opinion was correct regarding her suitability.

So she worked on for some time with out support. It was a big effort but doomed to failure without help. Eventually she moved Baz to an equestrian centre where she could get some assistance,  with the damage to both her and Baz’s confidence she was really behind the 8 ball.

Anyone who didn’t know the effort that had gone into Baz would think he was a hopeless case. And seeing the new owner with her confidence down would give anyone the impression this combination was not going to work, they would be right.
So 12 months after he had left, with a lot of water under the bridge, I turned up to see what I could do. I expected a mess. Bazaconi looked well, he had no doubt been looked after. This was his second or third home since he left me so he had never really had the chance to settle into a routine. Prior to my arrival he hadn’t been ridden for weeks.
I took him into the arena, it was out in the open in the bush, with horses in yards and paddocks all around, his next door neighbour was calling to him. Hardly the perfect environment to investigate, and or sort out issues. Bazaconi’s concentration was all over the place, I took the lead and gave it one quick firm tug, immediately he focused on me, both eyes and both ears fixed in my direction. We went to work, exactly what I had done with him the last time I had worked him. Straight back into it, he was focused, he obviously recognised me and I still had his respect. I was so pleasantly surprised, I had expected a handful of tangled fishing line, the work we had done had not been undone, what an intellect, but so sensitive to inconsistency, I think he was pretty happy to see me.
The owner of the equestrian centre seemed shocked at what he was capable of, reasonably so ,they had never seen him work as he could. The new owner was releaved that he had worked well, she conceded that she had bitten off more than she could chew, not only that, her circumstances had changed substantially from the day I decided she could make it work, she offered Baz back to me.

Baz was coming home and I would get to spend more time with him, I was now more certain he had a future.