Mountain Creek Cartier’s first foal was a handsome buckskin colt that we named Challa Station Spinifex. From the day he was born, Spinner showed us he was special. Sensitive, intelligent and handsome, he had the makings of a superb horse and I had quite often thought I should keep him as my next riding horse. But when his sire returned from the breakers wowing me with his potential, I knew my next riding horse was already here. With a degree of reluctance I put Spinifex on the market and he was quickly snapped up by a lovely young horsewoman called Paige. The will make a perfect partnership, Paige adores him and Spin responds very well to her and I can live vicariously through them and enjoy their journey almost as much.
That’s the tough thing about breeding horses – having to sell them. I love breeding horses for the careful planning, selection of mares, foaling down, those first days and weeks of getting to know the foal. Seeing its potential and knowing that you have gifted the world with another carefully considered horse is immensely fulfilling. Training them, getting it perfect, giving them those all important foundation skills is a real art that the artist strives to perfect with every foal. That is what gives me the greatest satisfaction. I don’t breed horses because I like selling them. But when they go off to perfect homes then it eases the regret just a little.
Our latest foals, Sunshine and Rocksolid, are absolutely delightful. Sunshine, the princess of pretty, always sidles over to me for a chat in the morning. Rocksolid galloomphs over in a goofy sort of way, wishing I would play with him, but knowing I’m far too grumpy for his rough kind of play. They have both had some basic training and now spend most of their time playing, sleeping and eating. This is when living in a 10 000 acre natural bush paddock benefits them the most. There’s bushes and branches, rabbit holes and lake crossings, sandhills, samphire and rocks, and loads of desert to explore. They get used to encountering kangaroos, emus and cattle. They grow up just like a wild horse should. We think this gives them such a good start in life.
We have purchased the very beautiful Red Bluff Tequila and she will be joining the Challa herd after summer. Her bloodlines and conformation are an exciting addition to our herd and we hope that she will produce some quality foals for us, as well as enjoy some gentle riding from time to time. Tequila may miss the green grass of Victoria for a while but no doubt will come to find that the variety of food available in the western desert is just as satisfying, and not quite as fattening. Hopefully she will find her new home relaxing and her new paddock mates very friendly.
What a cracking young stallion Mountain Creek Cartier is turning out to be! Both of his 2020 foals are well conformed and healthy with a touch of colour, and he is now on the payroll as a working horse. It’s been incredibly busy here at Challa Station with mustering in full swing and foals being born. It wasn’t supposed to happen, but the COVID pandemic forced us to postpone out muster until September, which is also foaling time.
We usually muster in April and foal down after August and that works quite nicely for me. But this year I was working long days out in the dust on the minimal sleep I usually survive on while the mares are foaling. Once I knew we were mustering in September, I put out the call for help with my mares and foals. Very luckily for me Odette, one of my endurance friends and an ex-vet, was able to come across from Geraldton for a few days. I maintained twice daily udder watch, and once a foal was imminent, I called Odette. Odette came over just before Greenstone Dandaloo foaled her exceptionally pretty palomino filly that we call Challa Station Sunshine. Odette spent time with the filly during the day while I was out with the cattle. I’d return exhausted in the evening and little Sunshine would be happy to come up for a scratch because Odette had spent time befriending her.
Sunshine is a confident, extra pretty filly with a blaze and two white socks like her sire, Cartier. Every time we see her she brightens our day. She is lovely and friendly, thanks to Odette, and has that real Morgan look. Just after we finished mustering, Challa Station Captivate, (Molly) gave birth to her first foal, a big leggy buckskin colt that we have called Rocksolid. In no time, Rocksolid realised that humans are awesome, and I would walk into his paddock and he would run up on those wobbly long legs to say hello. He is a really nice colt and he loves testing those long legs of his. Both foals are absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait to see how they grow up.
Even though we have finished mustering, that’s not the end of the cattle work. Once all the sale cattle go, we are left with the weanling heifers, which we put through two weeks of training before settling them into their new paddock. This is where the working horses come in to the program. We quietly work the heifers through the yards before tailing them out for five days in their new home. That just means that we put them in a yard overnight, take them out to graze for a few hours in the day then put them back into the yards and do it all again the next day. Lenny and Willow usually do the cattle work. Lenny likes tailing out because once the cattle are settled and grazing, he gets to graze too. It’s usually a pretty low key affair- Lenny eats and a cow starts wandering off so he brings it back into the herd then continues eating. It’s easy work for Lenny and it is a wonderful opportunity for a young horse to get some education in a low stress working environment.
Young stallion, Cartier, has been away at his trainer Margi’s property getting some off-station experience, and she brought him back for tailing out. It’s the perfect opportunity to get Cartier working, keep him engaged, give him a job, and continue his education. Cartier worked the cattle in the yards on one day, came with us to the tailing yards the next day and was put on the cattle very shortly after. The mob of cattle had been very polite walking out of the yards and so we decided to put Cartier out in front with Lenny to steady the lead as they came out of the yards. This time, instead of politely walking out, the cattle decided to run. Let’s just take stock here; a green broke stallion, first real time on cattle and a hundred heifers are running towards him. This was real meltdown potential. Instead of going after the cattle, Lenny and I stayed close to Margi and Cartier to help him through what could have been a disastrous situation. Cartier didn’t seem to mind at all that cows and heifers were spilling past him. He stayed steady and just walked as the ocean of running bovines covered him in dust. Then he came with Lenny and we steadied the cattle and boldly got on with the job. The way this horse coped was in part, due to his nature, but also due to the quality of training he has received while away with Margi Weir. Good job, you two!
Cartier’s iridescent golden coat gleamed in the sun as he walked busily around the cattle. His energy level was significantly higher than Lenny’s and at one stage I asked Margi, “does he realise he’s here for a long time, not a good time?” After a couple of hours he started to settle and eat some grass but as soon as there was action, he was on the job. He gave Lenny a much easier day as we let the horse with all the energy do the work. It’s not hard riding, all he has to do is walk and occasionally trot to bring cows back that are starting to wander away. He has to watch where he places his feet because the ground is quite uneven and stony in places, so he has to concentrate and do what Margi says and not care what the cattle or Lenny are up to. He has to learn to stand still and quietly watch the cattle, a skill that he is still developing, but for a young horse on the job for the first time, he was exceptional.
Cartier’s second day of tailing out began really well. It was the final day for the cattle, and our job was simply to wander them a couple of kilometres up to the dam, hold them for a while then let them go. Cartier was much more relaxed, happy to stand and watch the cattle who behaved like angelic cherubs, grazing along towards the dam. We could see a few fresh cattle out near the dam so Margi took Cartier off to move them away because they could stir our mob up if they came too close. Once we arrived at the dam, the heifers realised they were finally free. They were so happy they started running around the wall of the dam, up and down the little hill of dirt and cavorting with the unbridled joy of freedom. Margi tried to keep Cartier away from the unexpected action, and she did a great job of helping him keep his cool in what was a situation that even a seasoned horse like Lenny found a bit confronting. The good training she had invested into him paid off in spades in this moment. Cartier maintained his composure under this extremely challenging situation. Once the cattle settled, Margi and I rode back to the yards, loaded them in the float and drove home along the dusty roads.
Cattlework is finished for the season and Cartier will have a break from riding and head back to the paddock for his stud duties. He will cover two mares for me at Challa and he will be collected in a couple of months so that his semen is available to outside mares.
I don’t need to explain to this audience how it almost feels like cheating when you train a Morgan, especially when you decide to teach them liberty.
As we know, there is no other breed of horse as personable as a Morgan and they love to be with their people. They understand the human-horse connection better than most other breeds, and this makes them such a pleasure to work with. This connection was really clear during the Holy Toledo liberty clinic at Challa Station in June.
We were extremely lucky to be able to host the clinic during this COVID crisis. A bunch of really nice women came together with their beautiful horses to this extra special venue to learn how to teach their horses liberty. One person, Jodie, arrived without a horse but with the intention of getting to know Challa Station Walkabout (Watching Royalty x Challa Station Willow) and to consider him as her prospective new horse. As Walkabout is only eighteen months old, I told Jodie that she could use his mother, Willow, as her second horse because a three-day clinic would be too much for a baby. Well, didn’t I underestimate Walkabout! Not only did he complete the entire clinic, but he was also tagged as the teacher’s pet. He loved joining in the activities at the clinic, he dealt with the other horses very well, and I think he had a huge advantage because he was a clean slate. He had nothing to unlearn, no funny old habits to overcome, no preconceptions or problems, just a lovely clean brain full of intelligence and an eagerness to learn. He and Jodie formed a close bond and of course, she took him home at the end of the clinic. I am so pleased with this partnership of horse and human and it was lovely to have the opportunity to watch them develop a really strong partnership over the three days of the clinic.
Willow at the Holy Toledo clinic
Since the liberty clinic, I have been practising regularly and finding a new joy in groundwork. I have always been an “in the saddle” horse person, doing a lot of my work from the top, but liberty has given me the chance to work from the ground in a totally different way. I love working with Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) and Willow from the ground. Lenny locks onto me like a heat-seeking missile during his liberty sessions, and I can literally feel his power in my heart. Willow is a little gentler but equally as wonderful. Now I look at my weanlings as potential liberty horses and I have already started the very basics of liberty with youngsters Challa Station Tarantella and Spinifex. I keep looking around at the other horses thinking I can do liberty with them too – the broodmares once they are free of their maternal responsibilities, and stallion Mountain Creek Cartier are all firmly in my sights.
Tarantella’s new owner, Amy, came to visit for a week to meet her new filly. Tarantella is still a foal and hadn’t been weaned when Amy visited, so we used her half-sister, Willow, to go for rides. Willow and Tarantella have very similar natures; soft, gentle, friendly and calm, so I figured Willow would give Amy a glimpse into what her filly might be like in the future. Beautiful Willow is so versatile that she could be a riding horse one day, liberty the next, then take Amy for her first ride in a cart. She is so trustworthy that if somebody wants to ride a horse they ride Willow. Only a couple of weeks before, Willow took 80-year-old Jann for a group trail ride to a nearby windmill. Jann is Jodie’s mum and had come to the liberty clinic. She wanted to go for a ride, and what better choice for her than Willow. Anyway, Amy loved Willow and is absolutely delighted with Tarantella. The plan is that Tarantella will stay here at Challa after she is weaned until she is ready to be started under saddle, and I am looking forward to being part of their journey in the future.
In other news, Mountain Creek Cartier has gone back to his trainer for a few weeks in preparation for going to the vet to be collected. His first foals, Spinifex and Tarantella have been weaned, and he has two more Challa foals due this year, one out of Greenstone Dandaloo and the other out of Challa Station Captivate. This breeding season year marks the tenth anniversary of the first Morgan born at Challa Station (Willow), and we are confident that we are moving forward with a solid breeding and training program that produces really top quality Morgans.
A magnificent young stallion, four glorious mares, three promising youngsters and a champion gelding – what more could we ask for out here on Challa Station? Generous summer rainfall means the feed will be carrying the horses through for quite a while. There’s still patches of green feed amongst the dry grass and a fresh pick on the cotton bush. So why, oh why, did Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) eat a prickle bush? It gets worse … it seems that whatever he ate really hurt as it made lots of little cuts halfway down his tongue. He must have gulped it down … and then he choked.
This was my first time dealing with a horse with choke, and I hope its my last. Lenny had to be rushed to the vet – and a rush to the vet takes five hours in this part of the world. He was treated and spent the night in hospital before we headed home the next day. As soon as he came off the float I could see he still wasn’t right, he was lethargic, and he had lost his appetite. I should have left him at the vet, and it was too much to ask him to travel all the way back once we were home. Its these times that I find particularly testing. I know that the horse could live or die by the decisions I make. I put Lenny in “intensive care” at home, worried about colic, checking him constantly and reported to the vet twice a day. I leaned on a couple of friends for support, drew on my decades of experience and did everything I could to help him. Fortunately, he steadily improved and is now almost back to normal. And although my fortitude was tested heavily this time, I managed to make it through as well.
Dealing with vet emergencies is definitely one of the downsides to living so far away from help. If Ashley isn’t home, there are not many people around who can help either. And victories are sometimes hard won and sometimes lost. This time we won, thank goodness. Lenny the Legend is a very special horse.
Apart from dealing with emergencies, I have been spending quite some time waiting for the Lost Herd to appear so I can handle the youngsters. We had float training week, a biannual occasion during which all horses are expected to pass a float training exam at the end. The foals have graduated float training 101, which means they will load onto the float and tolerate going for a short drive with their mums next to them. Two-year-old Walkabout has leapt ahead and is ready to graduate float training 301, which means he can self-load on the float and travel alone in a relaxed manner. The mares all have a refresher course, and then at the end of the course, Challa Station Captivate performs her free roaming float loading demonstration, which always gives the babies something to aspire to. As well as float training, the babies do courses in tying up, hoof handling and leading, all in preparation for weaning.
Walkabout is older and has been so much fun to work with that he has mastered quite a few skills, like leading off Lenny at the trot, working with dragging ropes, tolerating flapping shower screens over his stable door, and wearing a roller.
We are now preparing to host a three-day liberty clinic here at Challa. Louise Ratcliffe from Holy Toledo Horsemanship is coming up to build on my very small repertoire of liberty skills. We are really looking forward to having some visitors and enjoying the new challenges that liberty training will offer.
The company of a good horse offers some stability in these trying times, and so many people around the world are not as fortunate as we are. At least when you own a horse, it can be somewhat easier to self-isolate and still have a friend to hug.
The fact that the ANMS was cancelled just as things were starting to get real, was a good choice for WA. There was a 48 hour period when we were not sure which way it would go and we hoped it would still run. It was cancelled as Wendy Brown and her friend Jess were mid-flight across the Nullarbor, Wendy was on her way to ride Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) at the show. The cancellation of the ANMS was a minor disruption that we turned into a positive. Wendy and Jess made their way to Challa Station to visit us and have a look at how our horses live.
At the moment, the mares and foals are living as The Lost Herd of Challa. After brilliant summer rains, there is so much green grass around that they choose not to come in every day for breakfast and health checks. When Wendy and Jess arrived, the first thing we wanted to do was go out and see if we could find the horses in their 10 000-acre paddock. Luckily we found them, because when we did, Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) was exhibiting signs of mild colic. I left Wendy and Jess in the middle of nowhere with the horses while I rushed back for the flunixin. One IV injection later and Holly was fine. We kept the whole herd in overnight so we could keep an eye on Holly and play with the foals.
We used the cancellation of the ANMS to hold the Challa Station Morgans No Show. Wendy and I had a lot of fun riding Lenny and Challa Station Willow, sometimes trying to be serious but mostly doing things that you would never do at a show. We gave every horse a prize, some got lots of prizes. Jess was our unofficial no-show photographer so we got some great pics. It was a great opportunity for Wendy to try Lenny out without the pressure of the show. She also was able to see, firsthand, how well natured Willow is as a riding and driving mare.
The Photo Conformation Show brought some great prizes across to the Challa Station Morgans. Of note were Mountain Creek Cartier’s comments from Dr Deb Bennett. She said, “A very nice colt with “smooth” conformation. The neck, shoulder, and pelvis are lovely. This colt’s strongest feature is the “uphill” body balance.” Cartier placed second behind Eva’s Supreme Champion, Quietude Cezanne. Dr Bennett also loved Challa Station Spinifex and awarded him reserve champion foal/weanling/yearling.
Challa Station Spinifex
The Photo Show was a valuable opportunity for us to have our horses assessed by a real expert. Although it is just a photo assessment and can never compare to a real-life show, the fact that we had access to a world-leading conformation expert is something that would be difficult to have in a real-life show in WA. We take her comments on board in our constant endeavour to breed top quality horses. And even though it is damned hard to beat those South Australian Morgans, we know we have some good ones here at Challa, too. We hope that everybody stays safe, stays at home and keeps enjoying their Morgans. Social distancing is the new norm, and - take it from me, it doesn’t make you weird 😊
Summer is the time of rest and reflection at Challa Station, as the temperatures climb well above 40 on most days. Occasionally a brief respite allows for an hour in the saddle here and there, but never consistently. The horses spend their days standing in the shade and their nights feeding out in the huge paddocks.
Because it’s been very dry they are getting big bales of hay to help them along. We had some lovely rain a week or so ago and are waiting for the green to appear in their manure as the fresh grass gets high enough to eat.
The foals are growing. I’m extremely happy with the way they are developing. Their conformation is very correct, their temperaments are ideal, yet they are so different. However, they share a common love of annoying the pet calves. The pet calves are yearlings, so much bigger than the foals. Every morning when I open the gate after breakfast, the foals go up to the calves and either make them stand up if they have been sleeping, make them move somewhere else, or even chase them! The foals had been taught by their mothers that cows can be pushed around and it’s funny to watch the power play between Tarantella and the white calf if they ever try to share a feed bin. At the moment it ends in a truce, both very annoyed at having to share a feed, but neither willing to give ground. It won’t be long before Tarantella is big enough to send white calf away.
Their sire, Mountain Creek Cartier, has headed off to Geraldton to have some off the property training. One of the things I can’t do is to train a young horse to cope being off the property. Because I am so isolated, most of my youngsters’ first experience off the property is a baptism of fire, like Willow going to the extreme cowboy racing competition last year. I can get away with that with a quiet mare like Willow, but it wouldn’t be fair to do it to a young stallion. So Cartier is at the trainer’s, getting some preparation for going under saddle as well as being taken to different places so that he can learn to cope. His first few days were pretty exciting, but he has settled down now and can be seen at different quiet horse venues around Geraldton a very big, strong gelding as his minder. I haven’t committed to taking him to the ANMS in March. It is lovely to think about taking him there and letting everybody see him, but not fair to take him if he isn’t ready. That’s why we have extended the invitation to Morgan enthusiasts to visit Challa Station after the ANMS. There are a few horses at Challa, like the wet mares, that definitely won’t be going to the ANMS and you are welcome to come and see them and learn all about their natural lifestyle on the biggest Morgan stud in the world!
Mountain Creek Cartier being trained by Margi Weir
If everything goes according to plan, I will turn up at the ANMS with at least one fat, shiny horse. If you do come and watch, I hope we get to say hello. I am not a lover of showing horses and I am well out of my comfort zone in a show ring. I only bring horses 600km once every five years to a show because I love the breed and I know that the ANMS is an important opportunity to showcase them. I hope you can make it and I look forward to welcoming you to the magnificent Brookleigh venue.
Two beautiful foals are on the ground at Challa Station, the first foals by Mountain Creek Cartier. We have Spinifex, our buckskin colt who was foaled on Sep 30th out of Greenstone Dandaloo and the very beautiful chestnut filly, Challa Station Tarantella, out of Mt Tawonga Belinda, born on Oct 17th. Both foals are an absolute delight, both as friendly as puppies and very nicely put together. I have really enjoyed handling them and teaching them about wearing halters and carefully giving them very basic leading skills. When they are young, I also spend some time on hoof and leg handling. It is incredibly important to set a young horse up for life if you are going to breed them.
Tarantella and Spinifex
When Spinifex was about a week old, I put his dam, Dandaloo, back in with Cartier. I loved seeing the three of them running together as a little “family.” Cartier was so good with his foal and they were a picture of contentment. Challa Station Captivate (Molly) has also run with Cartier – my goodness, I’m looking forward to seeing the foal they produce! My guess is that both mares are in foal now. Because I live so far from a vet, I can’t have them scanned to confirm a pregnancy, so I get my information from what the mares are telling Cartier. Both of them are telling him to go away now, so it looks like his work is done. Do I worry about twins? A little, but no more than I worry about the other things that can go wrong in a horses’ life.
Challa Station Walkabout is heading to Perth with Lenny and I next week to be gelded. He is such a cheery young horse and so easy to work with. I had to remind him about the horse float in preparation for his big trip. He remembered the float lessons he had with his mother when he was a few months old, and walked straight back onto the float when I asked him. He had a little drive with Lenny and coped really well. Walkabout impresses me with his really friendly but not coltish nature. He is really ‘with me’ when I work with him, light on the lead and watching me for my next move. He’s had hardly any training, and that was a deliberate move on my behalf. Because his dam, Willow is so quiet, I ran a real risk of turning out a bossy little colt with Walkabout if I had handled him too much. My conservative handling has produced a very respectful horse who is gorgeous work with.
Lenny is coming to Perth with Walkabout to be his travel friend for his first long trip. Luckily for Lenny there are a few very interesting clinics on while we are there. We are going to do some classical dressage, extreme cowboy racing, working equitation and some liberty training. Luckily Lenny is your typical, versatile Morgan!
We wish everybody a very merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy new year!
We were very excited to welcome our first foal for the season on Sep 30th. Greenstone Dandaloo had a trouble-free birth and presented us with a lovely buckskin colt. This is the first foal by Mountain Creek Cartier and he’s a real beauty! He has a little star on his forehead, just to give that hint of bling, and his sire’s cute little ears. It wasn’t long before he was up and running – it's lovely when they are born correct and healthy. And I will admit, I was really hoping for a buckskin. Dandaloo gave birth in the yard at mid-morning, surrounded by the peanut gallery of horses and pet calves. Even the bowerbird was chiming in, mimicking horses snorting and squealing just to really confuse the onlookers. Her colt is strong, with good bone and what appears to be a really easy-going temperament. Mt Tawonga Belinda is looking longingly over the fence, and as I write this her udder is huge. She’s not far away from foaling so we look forward to seeing Cartier’s second foal shortly. The birth of foals always means that the ridden horses get some time off.
Spinifex 4 days old
Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) and Challa Station Willow have some work ahead of them though. It involves camels, carts and an old shanty town. Next week, Mount Magnet will transform into movie central as the film crew from “The Furnace” comes to town. “The Furnace” is a movie set in the WA gold rush in the 1890s. Lenny and Willow will be used as set dressing horses. I wasn’t going to let an inexperienced actor ride any of my horses, but I was happy for them to be tied up in the background or to wander along the main street looking fat and shiny. Willow may be pulling a cart for a short scene, providing she’s happy to do so. The exciting thing is that there will be camels on set too. Horses are, as a general rule, terrified of camels. Lenny and Willow will be having some pre-movie camel training sessions prior to filming so let’s hope they cope with all of the action, the non-horse people and the camels. “The Furnace” master of horses is coming to town with a team of riders, he has worked with the Mounted Police for years, so he’ll have some very good tips for me I think. He’s keen to meet the Challa Morgans I’m looking forward to doing some training with him, along with the 120 cast and crew. They are planning on having an actor boot camp here at Challa for a weekend, using our arena, to show the actors how to look like they can ride a horse.
The Visible Farmer series was launched on August 28th. Visible farmer is a series of short documentaries that showcase women farmers. I was lucky enough to be filmed for the series and even luckier to be the first episode. Lenny gets some really good coverage and I was able to show off my Morgan horses to the audience. If you haven’t seen the Challa Morgans on the Visible Farmer clip yet, please have a look. It’s now embedded into our website; www.challamorgans.com I’m sure that those of you who follow us on Facebook will stay informed about the next foal.
I wish all breeders a successful season and I really look forward to seeing the foals everybody else produces.
I now have clear proof that Morgans can read. Facing the tail end of an incredibly hot and dry summer with ten horses to worry about, I knew I have to rationalise my numbers. I mentally went through my list of horses and came up with a small number that I would be prepared to part with. Amongst that small number was Challa Station Willow, and the reason I decided that she could go is that she is so quiet to ride, she’s probably a bit too quiet for me. I thought that a person looking for a really steady horse to ride would be incredibly grateful for the opportunity to purchase a mare like Willow. So for a week her ad was live, and I had enquiries about her from all over Australia. There was so much interest, in fact, that I decided I should wean her colt and put her back into work.
It didn’t take much, but Eva Hornung talked me out of selling Willow shortly after I posted the ad. And I am so grateful that she did. I am quite convinced that Willow read the ad and listened to me telling people that she was just too quiet to ride. Since she came back into work, Willow has been a plucky little courageous mare, who is quiet but eager to ride. No longer the steady little mare who is too quiet for me, but forward enough and bright enough to be considered for the number two riding horse spot, after Lenny the Legend, (Tandarra Millennium).
Since she read the ad, Willow has helped with cattle work, taking charge of the heifers and maintaining her composure as a mob of 100 of them galloped past. She competed in and won her first ridden competition in, of all things, Extreme Cowboy Racing in an indoor arena! That’s a story for another time. Willow and I are going on some great trail rides and she moves forward eagerly with her ears pricked, knowing she has places to go and things to do. We are building a real partnership, consolidating what she learned before she went on maternity leave and advancing her training with a new, sharper outlook.
Debbie and Willow
I did end up selling three horses. Youngsters Challa Station Wildflower and Justified have found new homes, as has the beautiful Greenstone Giaginye. But I think Willow will be staying with me for life now. What a clever horse she is!
In other news, Challa Station Morgans will be hitting the social media pages soon as a result of our participation of the (In)Visible Farmer Project. The project serves to highlight the contribution of women in farming. You might recall they visited Challa last November and filmed my episode, it’s only seven minutes long but I was able to promote Morgan horses. There’s no way they could document my story without including Lenny the Legend! The series launches on August 28th and mine is the first episode, so look out for it.
Cattle work has to be one of the best ways to train a horse. The horse has a purpose, plenty to think about and can always learn something. We have just finished mustering and we have almost 100 weanling heifers in the yards being trained. We train the heifers for a couple of weeks before we let them back into their paddocks. This means that when they come in for mustering they won’t be wild and terrified and dangerous, rather they will have an idea about moving away from pressure and working with people and horses.
Young horses like Challa Station Captivate, are introduced gradually to the cattle. They are put in yards adjacent to the race when we are working the heifers and they experience the excitement of cattle rushing past them. They are ridden in the paddock with the cows but not pressured into doing too much. They just need to cope with simple facts such as cows that are lying down get up when the horse comes, and if the horse moves closer, the cows move away.
The next step is for the horse to cope with a bit of action without getting too excited. Challa Station Willow had only been in work for a week when she got to experience more excitement than we had planned with the cattle, who were giving us a hard time as we were yarding them. Three times the cattle broke away from us. Horse trainer, Margi Weir, who was here to work with Mountain Creek Cartier was on Tandarra Millennium, (Lenny). As the cattle broke, Margi took off on Lenny and Willow stood beautifully amidst the chaos of four hundred and four galloping hooves passing her by and disappearing across the paddock. When I asked Willow to walk and then trot after the cows, she did so steadily and in complete control. I couldn’t have been happier with my lovely mare.
After the horse can cope with cattle action, they are trained to be able to move with balance and agility so that the cattle can be controlled easily. A good horse makes a massive difference, and sometimes all you need from that horse is a shift of weight and the cattle respond. Good lateral movements make the horse extremely useful because of the way the energy is projected to the cattle with the different movements. Individual beasts can be influenced, or the whole mob can be, depending on what you do with your horse. Lenny the Legend works the cattle beautifully and gives me far better lateral work on the mob than in the arena. He understands why we need to move in certain ways when the cows are involved.
Mountain Creek Cartier has not yet been introduced to the cattle. His trainer, Margi Weir, came and worked with him for a couple of days as a precursor to him going to her property for further training in August. I need to be able to get him off the property so that he can learn to behave himself when he travels off the property. Margi will take him to her place for a little while and if he copes he will get an outing or two around other horses before he comes home. The plan is that he will visit Margi from time to time as he learns to be a well-mannered young stallion.
Margi and Cartier
Challa Station Justified has been sold and is going to his new home on a farm south of Perth. I am sure he will be very happy there and I hope he doesn’t eat too much of that green grass! That just leaves one youngster to sell, Challa Station Walkabout.
Walkabout has just been weaned. I’d love to have him gelded but he hasn’t dropped both testicles yet so he’s still entire. My best option for paddocking him was to put him in with Cartier and the pregnant mares. He can’t go back in with him dam Willow, and Willow can’t run with Cartier yet, so my limited paddocking options meant that Cartier was going to get a real go at being a herd stallion by having a weanling coly put in with him. Luckily Walkabout and Cartier have settled in well together. Greenstone Dandaloo acts as Walkabout’s shield when he needs to get away from Cartier, and Cartier is a much better playmate than Dandaloo when Walkabout wants to have some fun. Grandma Mt Tawonga Belinda is in the mix as well and she provides some discipline to Walkabout as well as Cartier when they get too cheeky.
I am very lucky to be able to offer Cartier the chance to run in a herd. I appreciate the fact that many young stallions must live alone out of necessity. I hope that the herd environment contributes towards him becoming a well balanced and sensible stallion as he matures. And I hope that when his first foals are on the ground, they too can run in the ten thousand acre paddock with their extremely glamorous, very contented sire.