Canter Home Flash is a 13.3hh chestnut brumby cross pony owned by Heidi Bliesner. Heidi and Flash live in North Queensland, and although I have seen this lovely combination out and about at clinics and competitions, we’ve never formally met. I recently had the chance to find out more about their journey together.
How did you find Flash and were you looking for a horse at the time?
I never really look for horses, they seem to find me and I certainly wasn’t looking for a pony! I remember seeing Flash amongst a friends herd of station bred horses and thinking he looked out of place due to his size. I thought he would make a good project and I mentioned to Andrew Dioth that if he had no use for him, I’d take him.
Flash had some fairly handy breeding on his Dams side including Docs Spinifex and Abbey but his Sire was a Brumby stallion – or as Andrews tells me “Outta the Hills by Hard riding”. I think Andrew was hoping he would grow a little taller but 12 months later we got a text with a photo asking “Do you still want that pony?”…We picked him up a couple of weeks later.
Where was Flash in his education when you got him?
Flash was unbroken but had some handling…the day we picked him up was his first time on a float. After we got him home, I started to work with him extensively on the ground; he wanted NOTHING to do with humans. Most days he had to be mustered into the yard to be caught, wouldn’t allow you to stand on his right side and believed strongly in ‘stranger danger’.
One day when I saddled him, he bucked clean out of my breaker saddle and smashed head first into the panels twice, opening his face down to the bone. This wasn’t the first time I had the saddle on him and there no warning of an impending explosion. I remember looking across at my husband who had also just witnessed Flash’s outburst and saying “I might have to dog this pony”. I am sure most equestrians have said the same thing at some point or another with their horses but mine was a pony and not even broken yet! Needless to say, I didn’t give in.
I think it is important to note that I have had some fantastic guidance and support along the way including my two fantastic coaches Pamela Kingwill and Steffie Stevens. I honestly believe that one of the best investments an equestrian can make is lessons with a suitably qualified and/or experienced coach.
What has working with Flash taught you?
Patience. Confidence. Gratitude. It took a long time for him to ‘let me in’ but I was determined not to give in and the journey has been so rewarding and is one that I am truly grateful for. Some of the best lessons for me, have been learnt from horses (and ponies) that weren’t always easy.
Describe Flash’s personality?
Despite his past shortcomings, Flash is a model citizen these days; he still has moments of uncertainty but takes most things in his stride. He can however, be a little lazy and will sometimes ‘squeal’ when asked to do something with a little more enthusiasm. He has become incredibly reliable at competitions, like an old pro – I’ve never come home from a competition disappointed in his behaviour. The more I’ve got to know him, he really is a smoocher and loves having his photo taken.
From your journey so far with Flash, what has been your proudest moment?
Gosh where do I start? His first year of unofficial competition and the following two years of official competition were so much fun; he is such a pleasure to work with and every day he makes me proud. I would have to say Qld State Pony Championships was certainly a highlight. I have never competed at state level and Flash was the perfect first experience for me. Two days of travel from Townsville to Gatton, 5 days of bootcamp with Steffi Stevens, two days competing and then two days travel home. Not once did he put a foot wrong and his achievements were a cherry on top!
Also a noteworthy mention was being a finalist in the Dressage Queensland Sommerlyn Lisa Memorial Newcomer Pony of the year 2016 and the Grand Champion Dressage Pony award we received from Australian Sports Pony Registry for outscoring horses at a competition was pretty unique.
What are your goals with Flash in the future?
I was hoping to make a child’s pony out of Flash, however the only one he was suitable for was my inner child. Flash has brought me immense joy these past couple of years and has come such a long way from bush brumby to dressage pony; whether he makes it to grand prix, or becomes a retired paddock mate for Winston, then he has earned that privilege because in my eyes he has nothing left to prove.
You can follow Flash and Heidi’s journey together on Instagram at @canter_home