Ask Monty, November 2004

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11/26/04: What can you tell me about the use of kicking rings?

11/19/04: Why do you dislike single-line lunging?

11/12/04: I’ve tried to start my horse in 30 minutes or less like Monty does at his demonstrations, but I don’t get the same results. What should I do?

11/5/04: How do you cure a barn sour horse?

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Question: What can you tell me about the use of kicking rings?

Answer: The kicking ring is a device commonly used to inhibit and preferably stop a horse from the annoying and potentially dangerous habits of kicking and/or pawing. These habits can inflict injury not only to the animal itself but to other animals, people, and equipment in the nearby vicinity.

The actual ring is simply a 5/8 inch smooth round steel bar bent into a “bracelet.” You or your farrier easily can create a set ~ just be extremely observant that all rough edges have been smoothed off to prevent any undue chaffing.

Construct the ring at an appropriate size to slip on the horse’s upper pastern area. It will be held in place as it slides down to the wider area above the coronary band. This device does not inflict pain, only minor discomfort which distracts the horse from whatever it is that makes him think he wants to kick.

The side benefit is that the massaging of the coronary band as the horse walks around stimulates healthy hoof growth!

~ Monty

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Question: Why do you dislike single-line lunging?

Answer: I consider single line lunging the second worst piece of horsemanship there is. Just think about it and it’s obvious.

A secretary working with a telephone propped to her ear, balanced off her shoulder for any amount of time generally gets a crick in her neck and a backache. Hang the weight of even a light long line on one side of y our horse’s head for any amount of time and it will affect how the horse carries its head, which in turn will affect hot its body travels as well – out of balance.

Double line lunging (also called ground driving) incorporates a long line of each side of the horse’s body allowing it to move in a natural and balanced manner. This is what we desire. The horse will be more comfortable and able to concentrate on his lesson and the messages your are transmitting through long lines.

Don’t forget that you can continue to incorporate your body language in the driving or blocking positions as additional communication aids. On double long lines you can teach and the horse can learn contact. On a single long line, you can non-abusively only teach voice commands while your horse is circling – constantly out of balance.

~ Monty

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Question: I’ve tried to start my horse in 30 minutes or less like Monty does at his demonstrations, but I don’t get the same results. What should I do?

Answer: Join-Up® will save you so much time that you will be well ahead even if you take several days before your horse willingly accepts saddle, bridle, and first rider. What is important is the quality of the work, not how fast you accomplish it. By quality, I mean the level of acceptance and understanding the horse shows regarding the Join-Up® goals. We all want well-behaved, happy and willing horses. It is on this that you will be judged, not the amount of time it took.

~ Monty

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Question: How do you cure a barn sour horse?

Answer: With patience and consistency.

Basically you have trained your horse to be what we call “barn sour” and it will take  a lot of work on your part to re-school your horse’s thoughts about returning to the barn.

You insist you didn’t train your horse to be totally unruly whenever you turn back toward the barn but consider from the horse’s perspective: upon returning to the barn, work is finished, the cinch is loosened, the saddle removed, feed is put in the box, a bath or a good brushing is administered, after which your are turned out with your buddies to rest and relax – left alone to do what horses do.

From now on, don’t ride back to the barn to do all these activities. Stop before you get to the barn, dismount, loosen the saddle and walk – leading your horse to the barn. Better yet – ride past the barn, stop, dismount, scratch your horse’s neck under the mane, talk and enjoy a few quiet moments… then turn and walk to the barn. Let the horse stand for a while to cool off before removing the saddle and blanket, before receiving any feed, before being turned loose. Make the “end of the day” reward occur somewhere other than at the barn.

Vary the routine to keep it from becoming boring or something the horse may begin to anticipate like he used to anticipate “charging” back to the barn before. Make it fun for you both.

~ Monty

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