Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category


How to Prepare Your Horse for the Farrier

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013


My young horse, who is 10 months old, needs farrier attention yet it seems to me that he is too young for Join-Up. What steps should I take before bringing in my farrier? Kerry Milford

Monty’s Answer:

Thank you for your timely question. This week we have added a sixth farrier lesson to my Equus Online University. Students should ask their farriers to watch along with them as they learn from world renowned farrier Ada Gates showing us how she achieves a balanced foot and objective farriery. Farriers will appreciate that these owners are willing to prepare their horses for the farrier’s visit.


I remember, as a child, my father telling me that he had never been to a dentist and that he hated the thought of ever having to go. I remember my first visit vividly. I was totally unprepared, scared to death, and hated every minute of it. By the time our children made their first visit to the dentist, times had changed dramatically, and our family dentist was willing to take the time for a mock visit, where an assistant explained to the children the value of dentistry, and educated them about the great lengths taken to keep it pain free.

Consequently, our children have never feared the dentist, and our family has enjoyed a much improved dental environment than from my childhood. This is precisely the message that I believe to be applicable when preparing your horse to deal with the farrier. Let’s first address your question about Join-Up®.

Once your foal has been weaned and no longer calls out for his mother, he is ready for his Join-Up sessions. Accomplishing Join-Up is a great way for your foal to enter that period of his life when his mother is no longer a factor. Properly done, it will promote an understanding between weanling and human that will be beneficial lifelong. I recommend two or three Join-Up sessions on consecutive days. Be gentle and patient with foals as they are small and ultra-sensitive.

Doing too many Join-Up sessions at this stage is usually counterproductive. It is a little like often telling a child the same story; the foal will come to resent it and exhibit gestures of anger. Prudently accomplished, two or three Join-Up sessions will allow you to live by the concepts of Join-Up throughout the relationship with your horse.

The post Join-Up work with the Dually halter should proceed until you achieve strong signs of willingness and relaxation. Then, you can move on to accomplish other goals. The Dually is very effective for schooling a horse to stand for the farrier or the veterinarian. The Dually halter will also help a horse load into a trailer, walk into a starting gate (starting stalls), walk through water, stand for mounting or any other handling problems.

Any person preparing a horse to be trimmed or shod by the farrier should take this responsibility seriously. I have seen extremely wild and fractious horses that require a week or more to be prepared for the farrier’s visit. During this training period the sessions might take up to an hour a day. Half-hour sessions twice a day are not a bad idea.

In every country I have visited, I have found that some people believe that the farrier can educate the horse himself when it comes to standing and behaving while the footwork is done. This is an unacceptable mind-set. A farrier is a professional and should be treated as such. His expertise is to care for your horse’s feet, not to train him. While it is true that some farriers are also good horsemen and quite capable of doing the training, most horse owners do not plan to pay the farrier for training services.

The farrier often feels that he is being taken advantage of and should not be required to take the time necessary to train. This can result in short tempers, and horses dealt with in an inappropriate way. While farriers are generally physically fit, muscular and capable of administering harsh treatment, should something like this occur, the blame should rest with the people securing their services, and not the farrier. Starting to prepare your horse to meet the farrier should preferably be done just after weaning, but you might inherit an older horse that has not had this education.

The following procedure is for yearlings and older horses. I would suggest that your student be introduced to the round pen and go through one, two or three Join-Ups on successive days. Once Join-Up has been achieved and your horse is perfectly willing to follow you with his adrenaline down and volunteers to stay with you comfortably, I suggest that you put your student though two or three daily sessions with the Dually halter.

Once that has been accomplished, you are well on your way to having your horse stand comfortably while you pick up and deal with his feet. To begin the farrier-schooling process, you should first rub your horse over, or spray him, with insect repellent. He finds it disconcerting if he has to stand on three legs and can’t stomp one to remove an insect. Once the repellent is applied, you can begin to pick each foot up repeatedly.

If, at this juncture, your horse is perfectly willing to give you one foot at a time and stand on the other three while you tap on the lifted foot and run a rasp over it, you are probably ready to give your farrier a call. If your student is reluctant, offers to kick, or refuses to allow you to tap or rasp the lifted foot, I suggest that you fabricate an “artificial arm,” which I’ll discuss later.


At this point, the good horseman should reflect on why a horse might react in this fashion. Each of us should quickly remember that the flight animal relies upon his legs to carry him to flee for survival. We should immediately understand that acting out violently toward the horse does nothing but convince him that we are predators and out to cause him harm. Delivering pain to your student is absolutely inappropriate.

To make an artificial arm like the one I use to train horses that are difficult for the farrier, you will need the following items:

1. An old rake or broom handle, cut 3 feet (approx. 1 meter) long, or a hardwood cane with a straight-handle grip, not curved grip.

2. One heavy-duty work glove.

3. One sleeve of a discarded sweatshirt or heavy work shirt.

4. One roll of electrical, gaffer or duct tape.

Place the glove over one end of the pole and fill it with straw or shavings. Slide the sleeve into place so that the cuff can be taped at the wrist portion of the work glove. Fill the sleeve with sponge, straw or shavings, and tape the upper end of the sleeve to secure the material inside. You should have approximately one foot (30 cm) of uncovered pole for easy handling.

I’m finding it fun for me, at this stage in my life, that innovative students, encouraged to keep open minds, are making some very interesting discoveries. Kelly Marks is the director of the original Monty Roberts courses in England. She brought Ian Vandenberghe to be an instructor in my concepts. Ian came up with an idea that is very helpful, particularly for small, female trainers. He concluded that if the arm had a stiff thumb on it, the handler could, at the appropriate moment, slide the thumb down behind the rear leg, stopping at the pastern.

Using the padded thumb, the handler could actually lift the hind leg without placing her own arm in jeopardy. I was on tour in England when I received a very difficult horse, with a strong desire to kick. The English team brought me Ian’s improved arm and I found it very effective.

If your equine student wants to kick the artificial arm, do not discourage him. Return the arm to the position that bothered the horse until the horse accepts it anywhere you want to put it.

Begin using the arm by massaging the body, shoulders and hips of the horse before proceeding to his legs. You can even rub the belly, and up between the hind legs. Spend considerable time in the area of the flank, as it will be often touched by the farrier’s shoulder. Bad habits can get started if the horse is still sensitive in the flank area before the leg-lifting procedures begin. Use the arm to massage all four legs until the horse is perfectly happy dealing with the procedure.

If you are dealing with an extremely flighty or dangerous horse, you may consider using an assistant so that one person can control the head while the other uses the arm. Remember, if the horse acts out or pulls his leg away from you, drop the leg immediately and then school with the Dually halter. This will not be necessary with most horses that are raised domestically, but it could be an advantage with mustangs or horses raised with little human contact.

Be alert and watch for improvement, and when you get it, remove the arm from that position at once and go to the other side of the horse to continue working. Your student will regard this as reward for not kicking, and is likely to quickly improve. With your student cooperating fully when you pick up all four feet and tap and rasp, ask your farrier if he has an old pair of farrier’s chaps that he can lend you, if you don’t own a pair yourself.

You need your horse to allow you to work on all four legs while you are wearing loose-fitting chaps, which may frighten him and present a problem when the farrier visits. Most horses become accustomed to chaps within five to ten minutes without a much difficulty. On the day the farrier arrives, your student should have the person who has been working with him present for his first farrier procedure.

You should choose a place for this work that the horse is familiar with and one where you have accomplished a large part of your schooling. It should be a safe enclosure with good lighting so that the farrier can see the feet clearly. Good footing should be provided, and a firm, level surface should be available so that the farrier can judge the action of the feet as the horse walks away from, and back toward, the farrier.

You should have the Dually halter on your student, and move through the procedure slowly so that he accepts the activity while staying calm and relaxed. Advise your farrier that you believe it is a good idea to pick the feet up and put them down a few times before working on the foot just to accustom the horse to the activity. It is also a good idea if the farrier picks up the foreleg briefly just before picking up the rear leg on that same side, to help prepare the horse for work on the hind foot.

If you find that you have done insufficient work to prepare your horse for the farrier, then stop the procedure at once and allow additional time for further schooling before reintroducing him to the farrier. Following these procedures, your farrier is likely to be a much happier member of your team than if he would be if required to deal with an unprepared horse. And just as important, your horse will be a much happier individual, likely to enjoy a lifetime of comfort with the farrier.

Anyone who owns a horse should read material written by notable farriers to better understand the importance of foot care. The old saying “No foot, no horse” is certainly valid. An owner should take the responsibility of being as informed as possible when it comes to this critical part of the horse’s anatomy. The informed owner will judge the farrier’s work by the angle, shape and health of the foot he helps to create, and not by the amount of material he removes.

Good luck with your foal’s training and let us know how it goes with all his new experiences.


Force-Free Dressage…Is It Possible?

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
I’m a 23 year old Dutch student and I have been riding since I was 5 years old. I have always followed the conventional methods of the German and Dutch dressage school but since I became familiar with your methods about 7 years ago when visiting a Monty Roberts demonstration, I’ve gone in and out of a kind of existential crisis. I believe firmly in your methods and beliefs, but thinking of them I find it difficult to integrate the Join-Up principles in the dressage school. This has led me to consider a totally different approach to my horse and to abandon dressage in favor of a more natural way of enjoying my mare. But my question to you would be; is my understanding correct? Is it really true that dressage has very little to do with your beliefs? Or could there be a way to combine them both? Since dressage is really all about forcing a horse to assume a posture that isn’t natural and making them do ‘tricks’ and exercises supposedly to train them into assuming a posture that would lead to benefits for the horse. How does Monty see this issue?
Monty’s Answer [Part I of two parts due to the completeness of Monty’s answer]: 
A question has come through to me that is very interesting and quite appropriate at this moment in time in the world of horsemanship. The question is ‘can dressage, and the training of dressage horses, be accomplished while staying within the guidelines of your non-violent methods?’ It is my opinion that the one word answer is ‘YES’.
Not for one moment do I want any horseman to believe that the one word answer is actually sufficient. Nothing that we do with horses is so perfect that it requires no revision to make it better for these wonderful animals. Meeting their needs while helping them to become educated to the ways of the human, is absolutely essential.
One should remind oneself that the elements of dressage were born out of pre-historic wars. Each movement can trace its inception to a time when officers rode large athletic horses along with the foot troops on the battle fields of Asia and Europe. All accounts of the training of these horses would suggest high levels of violence.
Carvings in the rocks and later drawings and even the written word would suggest that horses were literally beaten into submission to accomplish elements of dressage that we still see today. These demands are made in riding schools, on bridle paths and most of all in the competition show rings of the world. This is simply not acceptable.
My upbringing was in the western part of the United States. I saw my first dressage horses in the late 1940’s. We had a Hollywood actor, Arthur Godfrey, who went off to Germany, fell in love with dressage and brought two high-level competition horses back to California with him. I was amazed by what these horses could do and observed them intensely.
Later, while studying my behavioral sciences I was able to see several motion picture accounts of the training of these horses. What I saw was appalling. I suppose I immediately checked dressage off my list of acceptable disciplines. It stayed off my list for about five decades. It was then that I met a wonderful Australian lady called Janice Usherwood.
Ms. Usherwood challenged me to observe her techniques for accomplishing world-class pirouettes, piaffe and passage. I have always been one to advise horsemen to keep their minds open and watch for the good things; not dwelling on the bad. Ms. Usherwood called my attention to the fact that I had been operating with a closed mind.
Later I would meet and work with Charlotte Bredahl. She went on to win the bronze medal in dressage at the Barcelona Olympics. Charlotte is a kind lady who loves her horses and would never think of acting out in violence with them. I have come to know her much better in recent years and she has taught me much.
[Part II coming up on Wednesday November 21]


The Advantage of Going Bare

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The Advantage of Going Bare
– By Monty Roberts

All my life I have marveled at the wild horses of the Western United States. One of the most intriguing facets of their existence is how in the world can they survive on rocky, high deserts with no foot care of any kind? Sure, it is amazing that they don’t die of colic any more often than they do and just as surprising is that they don’t succumb on mass to diseases that the domestic horse is vaccinated against. Drinking from any source of water available to them insures that they have every opportunity to harbor internal parasites in lethal numbers. These are tough horses that any knowing horseman should be in awe of.

Since the late 1940’s, I have observed ranchers, who wanted to improve the wild horses, release domestic stallions in an effort to upgrade the genetic pool. Most of these horses die in a relatively short period of time and the number one cause of death is the demise of their feet. If the domestic horse is not gradually allowed to go bare and toughen his feet while he is fed and watered regularly, he will probably die within three to four weeks. He will become so sore of his feet that he simply cannot travel far enough on a daily basis to acquire the food necessary to sustain life. Sore feet will kill a horse in the wild quicker than any disease. A sore-footed horse is easy prey for the mountain lion or the bear in the Western United States.

I have attended many conferences on equine foot care. I have heard so-called experts give speeches on what angle the feet should be, the best methods of trimming and the proper use of metal shoes. Isn’t it interesting that the best feet in the world of horses are those that have none of these advantages. Nature will dictate the angle that is appropriate for the leg conformation that it compliments. The surface of the earth will do a better job of trimming than any trained farrier could ever do. The absence of shoes will tease and condition the foot to grow and produce the strongest possible tissues so as to sustain soundness.

Recently I had an opportunity to put these theories to the test with six American mustangs. I was asked by the Rose Parade Festival to produce a tribute to the American mustang. I agreed to place in training six wild horses captured on the high deserts of the Western United States. Three of them were from the Bureau of Land Management, the Federal Agency that is in charge of the wild horses on public lands. One of those was Shy Boy whom I adopted in 1997. Three were captured on Indian reservations and provided to me by the New Mexican Horse Project.

I had twenty-four feet that had never seen a shoe. Not one nail had been driven into any foot that was involved in this project. Five of the six had to be prepared for this monumental challenge with but six months to accomplish it. This means that many miles were required to assure the riders and the Parade Committee that they would be safe in an environment more challenging that any other that I can imagine. Students of mine trained these horses as I was traveling virtually the entire time of their preparation.

Not one horse missed a day of training because of illness, injury or a sore foot. No violence entered into the training program whatsoever and every horse went through a significant “bomb proofing” program. Musical instruments, plastic tarpaulins, firecrackers and every sort of spooky object was utilized in an effort to simulate what they would see in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2003.

As you might well image, some of these horses had higher energy levels than others. And admittedly, Shy Boy was already “bomb proof” at the beginning of the training program. Shy Boy became a role model for the five who were in the early stages of training. Navajo, the horse I rode, took more work than any of the other mustangs. For the last thirty days or so, he was cantered more than a mile and one half per day.

Throughout this project, I was adamant upon keeping their feet shoeless. This meant that I had to get special permission from the Parade Committee, as they are quite insistent upon specially designed shoes for the parade horses. Some of these shoes are covered with rubber and others equipped with borium, a non-skid metal. I was convinced that the safest way to ride on the tarmac was “bare.” The Committee agreed to give me an opportunity to prove my theory.

We rode five horses in the Rose Bowl Parade and led the sixth. Shy Boy was my wife Pat’s mount and she depicted a Western lady rider of about seventy-five years ago. Wayne Robison, an eighteen-year-old who works as a rider for us, rode Cherokee. They were equipped with all Hispanic gear as the mustang came from Spain. Hondo was ridden by Koelle Simpson, a twenty-two year old who works on our Flag Is Up Farms. Koelle rode as a young Spanish female in sidesaddle and flowing skirt. Jason Davis, who portrayed a Buffalo Hunter, rode Yellow Bird. He was in an all leather outfit, with a rifle on his back and leading Chamisa, his packhorse. The pack was covered with a buffalo hide. I rode Navajo and dressed as a gentleman rancher would have in the early 1900’s.

As we took our instructions from the various segments of the Parade Administrators, we were constantly warned of the potential for slipping on the pavement. We were told that part of the parade was on an unlevel surface and that many horses had slipped in the past. We were made aware of many instances where thrown shoes created the necessity for horses to be extracted from the parade itself. We were advised of four exit points in the five-mile trip where horses could be retired from the event.

I can report that we did not have one horse slip one inch during the entire five miles. No horse took a lame step or appeared to be in any discomfort during the entire trip. I have examined each foot subsequent to the parade and found no ill effects from the effort. At the conclusion of the parade, officials present were astonished by the marvelous condition of these six horses.

Pat and I took pictures of each horse and individual feet from the horse in order to give you an idea of their condition. We used an angle calibrator to determine the angle degree of each of the horse’s four feet.

I am absolutely amazed by the accomplishments both physical and psychological of these incredible animals and I want to share their story of achievement with the rest of the world. As horsemen, we would do well to listen intently to Mother Nature. I am not saying that there is no need for shoes under any condition. That would be silly. There is, however, the need to be aware of how nature intended this wonderful part of the equine anatomy to work.

It should be noted that this six-month test began and concluded with six mustangs that had never been shod. They had the toughest and most natural feet a horse can possess.

It should be further noted that these animals were ridden on a friendly, stone-free surface throughout the six-month test. Their feet were cleaned daily and Cherokee was treated with iodine for four days for a slight thrush condition. Please note that each horse concluded the six-month trial without a sore step and there were no significant cracks, chips or otherwise damaged areas to any of the twenty-four feet in question.

This test was not intended to minimize the need for foot care, nor was it conducted to show that there is no necessity for shoeing under any conditions. I believe at the conclusion of this test that the training and competition involved in racing, eventing, show jumping, reining, cutting and many other disciplines would require the use of shoes to accomplish these disciplines.

I conclude from this test that horsemen should become more aware of the value of allowing horses periods of time to “go bare” to allow the feet a chance to seek a natural condition. Typically, most shod horses will migrate to an angle that is far shallower than this test produced. The six horses on test ranged between 50 and 56 degrees at the conclusion. This must be what nature intended for these feet.

As I view the thickness of the walls of these six horses, compared to domestic animals often shod, the difference is dramatic. Each of these horses received good quality hay of two types throughout the six months. No concentrate feed or any substance meant to enhance foot health and growth was given them.

This test was conducted on Flag Is Up Farms by our staff. It was not connected to any academic institution, nor was it conducted under any scientific rules. I simply suspected that we could accomplish our goals and conducted the tests so as to bring the horse world information about natural feet.


Biting flanks can be a sign of pain

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

There are times when biting is a behavioral sign of hindgut sensitivity caused by ulcers in the colon. Ulcers can lead to colic, so it is critical to get a complete vet check on horses showing these signs. Please take time to review this explanation from John Hall, the President of Freedom Health, in view of studies recently conducted on horses and hindgut sensitity leading to colic.

Communication from John Hall, President of Freedom Health:

In reference to the blog post on the young lady that wrote about her horse “starting to bite when asked to canter”,  it is worth asking if there have been changes in the way this horse is fed and managed. Cantering requires more collection, which puts pressure from the hind legs on the abdomen, plus the horse appears not to like having any lower leg pressure from the rider. These are signals of hindgut sensitivity.

Usually, the horse will somehow put up with some discomfort, then finally rebel (which is totally against its instincts) as conditions worsen. When it does rebel, someone has to find out what is causing this, rather than assume it is simply a newly learned “bad behavior”.

Monty mentions spurs as a possible cause. We would suggest that, while we totally concur, it’s less likely if this hasn’t occurred previously (unless the young lady has just started with spurs). By far the most prevalent issue is colonic ulceration. Based on our most recent study, 88% of 262 horses had colonic ulcers.

Please study our White Paper on “Colic & Colonic Ulcers”. Most colics are “idiopathic”, the term used by vets to describe that they have no idea of what caused the colic. This covers virtually 19 of every 20 incidences. Tasha’s horse appears to be exhibiting some of the early signals of hind gut dysfunction: the paper is worth reading. Click here to view it as a PDF. Read more about Freedom Health and Succeed here:


I hope this helps, and that Tasha stays in touch.

John Hall
Freedom Health LLC
65 Aurora Industrial Pkwy
Aurora, OH 44202-8088


Monty Roberts’ Centaur Method

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

After closely observing the horse industry for more than 70 years now, I have been able to establish any changes that might have occurred when dealing with headshy horses. Many recent events would clearly indicate to the horse world that the concepts of schooling the headshy horse have remained essentially the same for the past 70 years and possibly much further back than that.

This video represents the first full disclosure of the entirely new concept that I have discovered, which we will call the Monty Roberts Centaur Method. This is the act of riding a quiet, cooperative horse while building on the platform established through Join-Up, Follow-Up and the use of the Dually Halter to work with the headshy horse from a different position than handling from the ground.

The importance of the centaur training method of is not likely to be fully appreciated until tens of thousands of horsepeople see it. It is desperately needed on a global basis because it sets the pattern for nonviolent training. It clearly illustrates how effective it is to communicate in the absence of violence, force or intimidation.

It is my opinion that the discovery I have made, that I will call ‘centaur’, will eventually change the world of dealing with headshy horses. It is my hope that from there is will go on to significantly reduce the number of headshy horses that are created by individuals who know no other way but force.

– Monty Roberts

What are the benefits of Monty Roberts’ Centaur Training Method?
Safe approach to touching sensitive areas of headshy horses
Effective in dealing with even the most phobic headshy horses
Successful in building trust between trainer and headshy horse
Fast method to help headshy horses overcome their fears

Why does it work?
– It provides the fearful horse with a calm companion horse
– It initially reshapes the human and presents the fearful stimulus (touching the head) into a new form (trainer + horse = centaur) that the phobic horse does not immediately mistrust


It Runs in the Family: The Legacy of Lomitas

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

lomitas and monty roberts

In 2004 I wrote a book called The Horses in My Life. In it was a chapter titled Lomitas and the German Dynasty. Recently several events occurred that have proven my last paragraph regarding my all-time favorite racehorse has come true in the most electryfying way. The paragraph stated Lomitas’s second life at stud may prove even more important than his first life as a racehorse. He was a champion racehorse and a champion sire, and at the time of publishing in 2004 Lomitas’s offsppring had won nearly $8,000,000. At this writing I have no idea how many millions have been added to that amount.

On October 1 the Gr. I Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe race at Longchamps France was run and the name Danedream will be forever in the history books as winning by one of the longest margins in the history of this prestigious race. The newspress described the efforts of Danedream as one of the  outstanding all time performances by a race horse. Not only was she a filly, but she had  to compete with the colts. To me the most exciting thing was that she was sired by Lomitas. Little did I know how prophetic my statement about Lomitas becoming an outstanding sire would be proven beyond a doubt in the year 2011, seven years later.

Since that time Lomitas has produced many champion racehorses and champion stallions who are too numerous to list.  In that same week that Danedream won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a horse by the name Silvaner won the Gr.3 Baden-Wurttemberg-Trophy in Germany and was also sired by Lomitas. This three-year-old comes from the same crop as Danedream, and in winning this race she had to battle fiercely with two other outstanding racehorses, one of which was also sired by Lomitas. Silvaner was bred by Gestut Fahrhof, as was Lomitas.

Lomitas’s dynasty lives on and it makes my heart warm to know that this gorgeous, intelligent Thoroughbred stallion was able to prove his greatness not only on the track but also in the stud barn.


Monty Roberts: Put the needs of the horse first

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

If a person is going to be successful in the horse world, you have got to decide what you want for yourself. The needs of the horse come before wanting to win championships; wanting to make money; wanting to be successful internally. It is a partnership. Your horse is critical. His needs must be met first, and if his needs are not met, your performance will pay a price.

We need to know what that horse considers to be a reward. As predators, we know food as a reward. There is, in our DNA [deoxyribonucleic acid], a factor for considering food a reward, but no blade of grass has ever run from a horse. No horse felt the need to stalk down a blade of grass and kill it, and then eat it. Food is just there, for them.

So what does a horse consider as a reward? Often times it is just the ceasing of work. Just stopping. Giving them a rub. Getting off their backs, if we’re on them. Walking them around. Walking away from them is a reward, that tells them that you are not predatorial. Think of innovative ways to reward your horse in HIS language. Which is to say, “I like you, and I’m not going to hurt you.”

Horses are very generous animals. They are ambitious. They have a lot of energy. So they don’t want to just stand around, they want to do things but be careful. Monitor them. Observe them. When they’ve had enough, ease up. Reward them. Stop. Get off. Give them a rub and walk away.

Your chances for success will fall right off the table if the needs of the horse are not met. When you meet his needs, then your chances go sky-rocketing. One can’t simply be conceited about it, or arrogant, when the horse meets your needs. The reason that you can not do that, is that you will start to overwhelm your horse, with your own requirements.

Study. Learn what he needs. Provide those needs and your chances for success will sky-rocket.

– Monty Roberts

Editor’s note: Find Monty’s principles illustrated and discussed in his Equus Online University:

Join-Up with Monty on Facebook

Tweet Monty Roberts

Check out the Monty Roberts YouTube Channel

Learn the language of horses on Monty’s EQUUS ONLINE UNI


Richard Winters tests Monty’s Theories

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Richard Winters tests Monty Roberts’ theory about the natural approach to rollbacks. The informative video lesson is available to members of Equus Online University. What can a horse learn from a guinea hen? Richard Winters finds out in this video lesson on Monty’s Equus Online University at


Disenfranchisement of a Phobia by John Calder

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Disenfranchisement of a Phobia

by John Calder

Having spent the last three and a half hours and 198 miles driving on rain-sodden motorways back from Keysoe, Lou and I have had plenty time to reflect on a remarkable show and demo. Everyone was on sparkling form, from all the helpers to the core team, but above all, the performers, Kelly, Rosie , Copy and, of course, the maestro himself Monty.

But the final demo was really exceptional. Initially starting from the ground, the horse’s issues were quickly established and visible to all. Monty then opened our eyes to a new and breathtaking concept that he has only just developed and one that those lucky enough to be there will store as a cherished moment. Monty climbed aboard Copy and proceeded with some quite remarkable work from the saddle to work on boundaries with our head-shy friend quickly gaining the horse’s trust and respect.

A form of mounted Join-Up. It was not long before Monty was leading the horse in a calm, peaceful and gentle way. Copy had switched to his working horse roots assuming a low energy role becoming the master horseman’s perfect partner – ice cool, calm, willing and oh so honest. Monty then went to work demonstrating to a captivated audience the use of his concepts (usually demonstrated from the ground) but now in the saddle.

We all watched spellbound as the head-shy horse started to change and understand before our very eyes. It was a privilege to be there and to see this great horseman displaying his skills not only in the saddle but also demonstrating his mastery in working with and understanding behavioural problems. Monty asked Rosie to work with Tilly on the ground whilst he was still on copy and to touch and rub Tilly at the same time as Monty and then completely on her own – it was really something seeing Tilly happily accept what before the demo was totally unacceptable.
This was really a demo not to be missed and to be at Keysoe and to see the phenomenal way Monty brought about a disenfranchisement of a phobia and the clear transformation of our head-shy friend was something to be remembered forever.


Join-Up in the Classroom

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Whose Classroom Is It?
by Stephen Taylor with Commentary by Monty Roberts

When one discovers something by accident or a number of meaningful events seem to happen by coincidence, I am never quite sure whether the right word to use is serendipity or synchronicity. However, I prefer to think of it as Joseph Jaworski describes in the preface to his book ‘Synchronicity, The Inner Path of Leadership.’ Jaworski refers to these moments as if we are being helped by hidden hands, and for him there appears to be a mysterious quality about them. With seemingly hard to explain events, requests and meetings with remarkable people coming out of the blue, almost from the very moment I made my commitment to help and support Monty Roberts, I too have had course to share Jaworski’s mysterious feelings and feel those hidden helping hands at work.

Helping hands were at work on the morning I rushed to the photocopier before class. Sitting there on top of the copying machine was a set of school classroom rules. Not unusual in a school, however, these rules did not belong to our school. I searched the immediate area for the possible owner, but strangely enough on this day and at a time that is usually bristling with frantic last minute activity, the copying room and surrounding area were quieter than the Mary Celeste. Resistance was futile, curiosity got the better of me and I started to read the ten rules and two reminders, all of which were neatly laid out with key instructions and directions picked out in bold blocked capitals. Each rule was written in a distinct tone, which to my ears sounded aggressive and confrontational. I couldn’t believe what I was reading; surely this was part of an early 20th century history of education project?

The Rules Read:

Quietly ENTER the classroom ONLY when your teacher tells you to.

Go to the desk given to you by your teacher: it is not your job to decide where to sit unless you teacher tells you so.

Take your coat off immediately and sit down when requested.

LISTEN properly and FOLLOW the INSTRUCTIONS your teacher gives you straight away.

At the end of the lesson PACK equipment AWAY and put your COAT on ONLY when the teacher tells you.

Push your CHAIR under the desk and LEAVE the room quietly but ONLY when the teacher tells you to do so.

REMEMBER: The classroom belongs to your teacher, you only visit it a few times a week: s/he decides what happens in that room and not you.


These rules pose a whole host of questions and observations which I would now like to explore…

As an outsider, these rules would indicate to me that the school was having or had had  issues with student behaviour. The school’s answer being, metaphorically speaking, to rein in the students and take a tighter grip of those reins. In other words management has decided to take a top down, ‘you will,’ controlling approach, the term ‘zero tolerance often being associated with such approaches. However, as riders can testify trying to hold a horse constantly on a tight rein, to hold back its energies and enthusiasm is exhausting for the rider and certainly not the answer, the long term consequences being of no benefit to either party. In an attempt to limit the disruptions and focus on the teaching and learning, schools that take such action are getting themselves wrapped up in the punishment business and wasting hours of valuable pupil time. This contributes to an us and them culture and staffroom banter that sounds more like a briefing from an episode of Hill Street Blues with comments of ‘hey let’s be careful out there’ and ‘get them before they get you.’ Unfortunately, it would appear that this is the direction hundreds of our schools appear to travel in the absence of any alternative approaches.

Monty’s Principles would indeed take schools in a totally different direction and certainly out of the punishment business. Schools need to work in partnership with their pupils, as Monty states JOIN-UP®, student and teacher, as his theories would suggest for horse and rider. Keeping calm, being patient, listening, negotiating, positive and negative consequences for ones actions, giving ownership and with that ownership responsibility.  In my experience, children and young people are only too willing to seize upon and be involved in the issues that directly affect them. They bring such energy and enthusiasm to these issues, which, if channelled correctly result in tremendous benefits to all.

One key element of JOIN-UP® in the classroom and in schools in general, is the creation of negotiated contracts at whole school, class and individual level. One thing I have learnt is that students will be much harder on themselves than any teacher, and rather than weakening the processes that run the school, students who have input will actually strengthen the school’s experiences. Students who are allowed to have a voice in the running of THEIR schools, classrooms and environments will be learning vitally important life skills [CITIZENSHIP] of cooperation, give and take, responsibility to themselves and others and consequences associated with choice, ‘the learning being in the doing.’

I would suggest that the zero tolerance approaches have actually been introduced because of the consistently disruptive behaviour of a minority of students. We often hear of the term peer pressure being used in a negative sense. It is time this was reversed and the majority of students were given the opportunity to apply peer pressure [non-violent] upon the disruptive minority and reclaim their stolen education. This can be achieved through a progressive and serious commitment to valued student contributions in the form of class meetings, school councils, representation on school governing bodies right through to area and district education committees.

Schools that operate ‘zero tolerance’ approaches will believe they are doing the right thing. However, in my opinion they are operating from fear and under this fear students lose out through lost opportunities! Let me explain; schools are generally judged against other schools by things that can be measured, namely exam results. For many schools this is the number one criteria, failure to continually improve performance is met with public humiliation, branding and all associated negative consequences. These anxieties are met by tightening the control/ rein in order to keep pushing the students and staff to improve their performance, attempting to force more and more information into students rather than allowing it to be wilfully drawn in. And all this takes place in atmospheres of coercion and classroom cultures that neuro-scientists can now prove are not conducive to the brain working at its best.

At one time, I would have suggested that a leap of faith was required by schools, education leaders and districts before taking on Monty’s principles. However, they only need to look at the success of companies in corporate America such as Volkswagen North America who have come to realise that trust based approaches are the best performance enhancers. To quote Clive Warrilow [CEO Volkswagen North America] in his 1998 speech to the graduating class of the Business School of Oakland University, on the subject of Monty’s techniques and philosophy he said ‘ it is a metaphor for a style of management that says people will be better employees if you treat them with dignity, respect and honesty. Trust goes a lot further toward winning people over then ordering them around.’  Unfortunately, still very few education leaders are prepared to take that leap whether through fear of failing and ridicule or just not knowing how to. However, in the meantime our children continue to suffer lost learning opportunities to become self-disciplined and responsible young adults who are equipped to make our world a better place.

To return to those earlier rules that mysteriously appeared and inspired this article and which are clearly the antithesis of Monty’s Principles. I find it very interesting that there is no mention of responsibility, no mention of consequences, no mention of choice and no mention of the school and staff’s commitment to quality lessons and respecting students’ efforts in order to earn mutual respect.

Taking the tough no nonsense approach is not helping these youngsters or our future communities. It is not offering them anything new but only mirroring the social difficulties of fear, aggression and threats that already exist for many from very difficult family backgrounds. If you want tough approaches, these youngsters could well teach the staff a thing or two.

On discovering these rules my immediate concerns were for the very same children who years earlier I had had the privilege to teach in an atmosphere of mutual respect, in a shared and negotiated classroom and who now found themselves in a top down oppressive, aggressive and controlling environment.

To answer a question often asked by the media. Yes, it is upsetting to think of children I have previously taught having to endure a regime that is not only unnecessary but also inadequate. However, I have to believe that the previously good experiences will linger longer in their memories and that it will be these they take into adulthood and not those of fear, aggression and threat. As Amy, a past pupil once shared with her class, ‘JOIN-UP IS LOVE.’

So, I ask again……………..WHOSE CLASSROOM IS IT?

~ Stephen Taylor

Monty’s thoughts after reading Stephen’s article:
Children are intelligent little creatures, often underestimated by adults even if they are well educated and hold teachers’ credentials. Young people learn even when we are not paying that much attention. It is not whether they can learn, but it’s a matter of what they are learning. If through the actions of adults youngsters are learning that force and intimidation works, then they will strongly anticipate the day when they too can control their environment in that fashion.
Any newscast you choose will prove to the inquiring adult that our society is growing accustomed to using forceful techniques. Violent acts are being celebrated by our society at an unprecedented rate. The Internet is loaded with mindless acts of aggression between one human and another. To the victor go the accolades; we tend to be saying that if you’re big enough, strong enough and draw enough blood, you’re the hero.
The most recent atrocities include girl-on-girl physical violence, which steals from our species one of the last tenets of respect for one another. Cage fighting has become incredibly popular. No participant can leave the ring, and there are virtually no rules. Hitting a man when he’s down, kicking his teeth out and choking to submission are ordinary acts to determine the champion.
Where does this mindset begin? Is it in the homes where violence is often the vehicle used by family members to control the environment? Is it in the schools where rules such as Stephen has identified are regularly employed? Is it on the playgrounds where this mentality takes over to celebrate the actions of a bully who controls his subjects? Is it in the entertainment elements in the lives of our children? TV, motion pictures, video games, and the Internet provide incredible educational opportunities for those who want to become proficient in the principles of a fear-based culture. Is it the actions of certain military elements and even religious extremists?
There seems no doubt that it is a certain measure of all of these elements. There is no question that there is an ample supply of each of them no matter where we look. When our very educational system begins the academic life of a child by saying that it’s OK to demand rather than request, it is my opinion that we are headed down the wrong path. When our school systems agree that it’s OK to control the educational environment using the same techniques that a schoolyard bully would use, I believe we are educating but in the wrong direction.
Most elementary school teachers are bigger, stronger and more frightened than their students. If that is the criteria by which we gain control, then what happens when the natural process of growing up finds the student stronger and more physically capable than the teachers? I’ll tell you what happens: We get exactly what we are seeing in our violent modern culture.
Many of my readers can remember the story that I have told so often of the lady who is walking with two children. One is about ten years of age and the other about six. We watch as the lady stops, spins round and in a loud voice says, “Johnny, you stop hitting your little brother or I’m going to hit you.” What sort of message is this? I submit that it is certainly effective, at least until Johnny is as big as his mother. After that point, she is likely to experience her lesson in reverse, and that’s what we are experiencing in our culture today.
~ Monty