Archive for June, 2016

 

Monty tells his life story

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Carte Blanche catches up with Monty Roberts. Watch this short (9 minute) video interview where Monty tells his story and shares his goals. Can subtle behavioral language used by horses to communicate with each other be used by humans too?

Watch the interview here: http://carteblanche.dstv.com/player/1059094/

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Unusual animal encounters

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Dear Monty.

I am 63 yrs old this year, I was raised around horses from birth. My Dad loved them and started his own cross-breed that made for a beautiful animal. He gave me a wonderful little bay gelding when I was 10.

Unfortunately, at the time I seemed to have more interest in conveyances of the motorized type and didn’t pay enough attention to Teddy. So, guess-what? Dad sold Teddy!

It took me a long time to really come to my senses, but I have regretted for many years the outcome of my lack-of-interest. There is still one descendant of Dad’s herd here on the farm as well as two of my daughter’s horses; her daughter’s mini and two more, belonging to my son. I don’t do much with them other than to make sure they have feed and aren’t injured and help the granddaughter with her mini when she visits. It seems there’s always too many other, more-important things to occupy my mind.

Just a few days ago I had the most amazing encounter with a wild/feral horse. Anyhow, I was driving around out in the bush west of my home, here in central Alberta when I came across a lone horse, about 100 yards distant, grazing in a recently-logged-off and scarified area.

I stopped the truck, took a picture and watched the horse for a few minutes and spoke to him once. He looked-up at me for a minute then carried on grazing. I then decided, what-the-heck, I’m going to see how close I can get to this fellow. So I started slowly walking his way. Each time that he lifted his head and appeared about to take flight, I would retreat a couple steps, turn my body at about 45 degrees to him and cast my eyes downward till he settled into grazing again. (Incidentally, I have read some of your work and was enrolled in your online university for one year).

Now this is where things got really interesting! I was now about 20 feet from the horse and he seemed fairly calm, having only flared his nostrils and blown softly a couple times. I could now see that he was an intact stallion and terribly scarred-up all over both sides of his back. The scarring and the fact he was alone, leads me to think he’d recently got run out of his herd. He was a nicely set-up little guy maybe 14-1/2 hands and if I had to guess, about 4 or 5 yrs old. Short-coupled; head and feet just-a-bit big for his body, with I believe, a touch of draft in him (he had a bit of long hair on his fetlocks). Predominately Dark Bay running into a Liver-Chestnut splash over the rump. All-in-all a nice-looking little fellow.

So at this point I had come to a large poplar log between us, so decided to just, set-a-spell. The horse then proceeded to circle around so that he was down-wind of me, alternately grazing and nonchalantly studying me. All the while, I too, tried not to stare at him too intently, just casually glancing up, then back down to his front legs.

After a couple minutes he started coming in the last 15 ft to me, till he got to where it looked like he would like to make one more step, but that would have required him to step over a small log and a gouge in the ground, which had been left by the scarifyer. This would have brought him in about two steps and I believe he was not comfortable with that idea. (I still chuckle to myself as I recall watching him ponder this)!

I thought I’d help him out, so slowly began to reach my hand out to him. He too reached out, to within about 8 inches of my hand, just briefly, then after a few seconds, quickly turned and trotted off about 20 feet and turned at about 45 degrees to me and stood casually looking at me for a bit.

I stayed seated on the log with my eyes mostly downcast but glancing up now and again. Suddenly he turned to face my way, from 20 feet out, square-on and let out the most powerful snort I have ever heard from any horse! I mean, like he put every ounce he had, into it I’m sure. Funny thing is, by this time I was so deep into this amazing encounter I didn’t even flinch, in spite of this sudden and powerful out-burst.

After standing looking right at me a bit with eyes wide and flared nostrils , he calmed down then quartered away, alternately cropping grass, glancing back and moving away till he disappeared over a hill some three hundred yards off. Finally Monty, I have come to my question! Did I miss my cue there? When he turned and moved away after sniffing my hand. Was it my turn to move towards him and I didn’t realize it?

Twenty-twenty hind-sight tells me he was enjoying this little game just as much as I was, and that, that was his invite for Join-Up? Also, what was that resounding snort? (Remember this came after the hand sniffing and retreat.) Was that perhaps a scare tactic, to see if I would take flight? Or, was he just (ha ha) voicing his disgust, at my lack of knowledge, of the rules-of-the-game!

A little background on the horse. He was in an area frequented by people on quads, dirt bikes and such, and so, used to seeing humans regularly, although never me, nor me him. Whether he had ever had contact with humans I do not know.

In closing I want to thank you Monty for sharing with the entire world, your vast knowledge of equine behavior and showing people how they can better interact with horses and other creatures, even humans. I have done some partially successful Join-Ups with some of our horses except for one docile little mutt who refuses to go into flight mode! So I want to study more of your lessons and put them into practice, therefor I intend to re-enroll, as soon as funds allow.

I apologize for such a lengthy story but, I was so fascinated, by this chance encounter, I just had to share, in hopes that other readers may find it interesting. I want to point out that the terrain we were in allowed me to keep some sort of obstacle; a tree, a stump, a fallen log, etc. between us, (just in case) at all times.
Although my Buddy showed no sign of aggression I thought it best to be careful. Thank you, and I do hope you will be able to find the time to respond. Sorry, I know you are a very busy man.

Sincerely,
Gerald Hoszouski, Alberta

Monty’s Answer

Dear Gerald,

Thank you for sharing the details of your encounter. You probably already know that my life has been filled with similar episodes. I have been able to write regarding about 10 percent of similar encounters. My life has been blessed with so many opportunities to communicate with the wild animals inhabiting this earth of ours.

There are so many educated people that have a hard enough time believing what I’ve been through as it is, I have never told the story about the dove on the fence of Flag Is Up Farms. I drove by in my pickup several times and realized that she just kept sitting there. I stopped, got out of my pickup, went to her and put my hand out.

I held my hand about six inches from her and watched as she elevated her wings and then just made a hop to sit on my finger. I had an employee in the pickup who was astonished by what he saw. Something had told me that this bird was ready to have a meeting with a human being. Nobody has to believe this but it’s true.

You had your encounter, nobody has to believe you either. Hold your memories as they belong simply to the two of you. I certainly can believe you, because I’ve had so many similar occasions. I will paraphrase how I see your episode taking shape and coming to a conclusion.

Let me suggest that there is a strong possibility that this horse was 11 or 12 years old and had been kicked out of his harem by a younger stallion. Let me say that it’s possible he was looking for some sort of meeting with another animal he thought he could trust. He wasn’t going to test the difficult terrain for that last few

inches, but as you suggest, he moved to a downwind position, this is not uncommon.

As the scent of your humanity drifted on the wind, let’s predict that it loaded up his olfactory plate. Let’s suggest that his mind was so preoccupied with you he suddenly realized he could no longer smell you. It was then that he blasted a huge volume of air across the plate to clear off the accumulated smells. He once again could identify odors with clarity, it was then that he probably decided not to take a chance on you.

Recently I had a similar letter from a man who took walks in the woods. This time it was a deer with the same sort of experience that you had with the horse. I suppose it’s fair to say that the closer I can bring people to the acceptable body positions the more of these kinds of experiences we will hear about. I would suggest traveling to the area as much as possible. You may even find another horse if your body positions are right.

Thank you so much for your inquiry. Savor this moment for the balance of your days. This horse will undoubtedly remember you. Remember, horses never forget anything, and I am sure this was a special moment in his life.
Sincerely,
Monty

 

At the Royal Windsor Horse Show

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
monty-pat-windsor

Her Majesty, the Queen of England invited Mr. and Mrs. Monty Roberts to attend the Royal Windsor Horse Show http://www.rwhs.co.uk/ to participate in the celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. The Royal Windsor Horse Show, host to International Jumping, Driving and Endurance, and National Showing and Dressage was held May 11-16,  2016, and hosted no fewer than five Olympic gold medalists, competing in the international show jumping classes.

Jeroen Dubbeldam, reigning World and European Champion, from Nederland, headed the list of competitors, while fellow Olympic individual gold medallist Rodrigo Pessoa (Brazil) challenged Peter Charles (Great Britain), Beezie Madden (USA) and Laura Kraut (USA), all part of  Olympic teams. Kent Farrington (USA) is currently ranked number six in the world and will be representing a strong USA presence, including three of the top 30 riders in the world.

Roberts was asked to be in the pageant at the Royal Windsor Horse Show to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90 birthday. Roberts and his wife Pat stayed at Windsor as guests of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Monty Roberts advises Her Majesty with phone calls and frequent trips to Polhampton and Sandringham where he works with Her Majesty’s Thoroughbred horses. Monty’s success, he states, is from the Queen’s endorsement.

“She was the only reason I was able to go global,” he says. “If it wasn’t for her, I’d still be ploughing around in central California, trying to get cowboys to agree that being rough with horses doesn’t make sense.”

Years before The Horse Whisperer movie was made, the Queen had read about him in horse magazines, and sent the Crown Equerry, Sir John Miller, to investigate.“He came utterly skeptical, but in the end, he said, ‘Her Majesty is going to want to see this’” Roberts recalls. “I was invited to Windsor in April 1989. The Queen provided me with several young horses of her own and a training pen was set up at Windsor. I had saddles and bridles on them all in five days,” says Roberts. “She put me on the road in her car and away I went to 21 cities. I did 98 horses on the trip, all the while reporting back to her. She gave me another life. She wouldn’t agree with it, but it’s true – she’s so understated,” he says.

It was the Queen who encouraged Roberts to write a best-selling autobiography in the early 1990s.

“I never depart from calling her ‘Your Majesty’, but I see this real side to her that is just overwhelming. Once when called in on short notice I mentioned I was in work clothes. She said to me, ‘I don’t give two hoots what you wear.’ How many people know that the Queen would say that?”

“I can’t emphasize enough the Queen’s ability as a student,” says Roberts. “She doesn’t forget anything and she is intensely interested. She has given me the opportunity to teach my concepts all over the world and opened many doors for improving the lives of animals. For this I call her an ‘Influence for Good’ and I believe she is the leading monarch in the world for advocating a better life for animals.”

This story, while remarkable, is merely representative of an ever increasing body of work as Monty Roberts continues to be an agent of change throughout the world.  This mission was very much influenced by Her Majesty as she encouraged Monty on to bring this ever important message of nonviolence to the global community.

 

The International Society of Equitation and Monty Roberts’ Join-Up®

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

A comparison between the Monty Roberts technique and the conventional UK technique for initial training of riding horses 

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Solvang, CA – The scientific paper authored by Drs. Veronica Fowler, Mark Kennedy and David Marlin entitled ‘A comparison between the Monty Roberts technique and a conventional UK technique for initial training of riding horses’ was accepted for and published in Anthrozoös. Anthrozoös is a quarterly, peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal reporting the interactions of people and animals, a journal which has enjoyed a distinguished history as a pioneer in the field since its launch in 1987. Prior to appearing in print in Anthrozoös the study was presented at the International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) having been accepted by the scientific committee and also presented at the Centre for Animal Welfare & Anthrozoology, Department of Veterinary Medicine University of Cambridge both. 

Comment from Dr. Veronica Fowler on the results of the study:

“This study describes a comparison of the efficacy of the Monty Roberts horsemanship technique in comparison to a UK conventional training technique for the initial training of horses. Initial training of young horses, in particular the first time a horse is saddled and ridden has been recently reported in the scientific literature as a significant stressor in terms of the impact on the welfare of the horse. It is therefore vital that we fully evaluate the techniques which are practiced around the world to identify those which have the potential to cause compromised welfare and suffering during foundation training of horses.  

Our study reports that horses trained using Monty Roberts’ methods had significantly lower maximum heart rates (bpm) during both first saddle and first rider when compared to a UK conventional training method. Monty Roberts trained horses did have significantly lower heart rates during first saddle and first rider backing process (i.e. heart rate reduced between first saddle and first rider), a finding which has never previously been reported in the scientific literature. Thus the heart rates observed from Monty Roberts trained horses during first saddle and first rider are currently the lowest reported for any training regime reported in the literature to date.

The use of the round pen and in particular the technique of Join-up have been frequently criticized and reported in the literature to be another significant stressor due to the perceived opinion that this environment and method overtly activates the flight response. Our study could find no evidence that the use of the round pen or, indeed the technique of Join-up, was fear inducing and thus a significant stressor to the horse based on heart rate alone. In fact, we found that the heart rate of horses during this technique were considerably below the maximum heart rate for horses of this age and breed. 

Following 20 days of training (30 minutes/horse/day) the study horses undertook a standardized ridden obstacle and flatwork test and a ridden freestyle test. Heart rates recorded during these tests for both training regimes were not significantly different; however Monty Robert’s trained horses scored significantly higher in all three tests as determined by a panel of judges who were unaware of the study or the trainers involved in the study.  

Our manuscript therefore provides peer reviewed scientific substance to indicate that that the Monty Roberts training technique is highly efficacious in terms of the effect on the welfare and performance of the horse undergoing foundation training.”

Recently, a student under the supervision of Professor P. McGreevy of the University of Sydney, Australia, set out to discredit round pen techniques, specifically Monty Roberts’ Join-Up® methods. This video demonstrates the explicit reasons behind the student’s paper in her own words, specifically mentioning Her Majesty The Queen of England. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/science-takes-on-the-man-who-listens-to-horses-20120713-2219x.html  An abstract of that paper was presented at the International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) conference in Edinburgh, Scotland during their conference. 

Mr. Roberts responded that his Join-Up® method uses both positive and negative reinforcement, and negative reinforcement could be a ”good thing.”

”How do you get a horse to move off your leg? You lay your leg against the horse with pressure and then when the horse steps away you remove the pressure – that’s negative reinforcement,” said Mr. Roberts, who advocates non-violence and uses choice without pain or force in the training of horses in front of live audiences worldwide.

”Everybody that ever works with a horse stresses a horse. You will stress a horse when you bring him out of a meadow,” said Mr. Roberts. “They have to go through a certain amount of stress in order to accept they are going to live with humans,” he said. 

Compare this student’s paper making the news in equestrian circles worldwide with a controlled Science Trial and published in a legitimate Science Journal Anthrozoös referenced by Fowler V. Kennedy M. and Marlin D. (2012) A Comparison of the Monty Roberts Technique with a Conventional UK technique for initial training of riding horses. Anthrozoös. Vol. 25 (3).