Watch Zane’s first Join-Up and first saddle with Monty:
Watch Zane’s first Join-Up and first saddle with Monty:
Watch Zebra work on the flat in both Western as well as English tack:
Zebra at the beach at Hollister Ranch!
Watch Dox ridden under saddle in both Western and English tack:
Watch King under saddle in both English and Western tack:
Watch Gladiator Join-Up with Monty:
Watch Sugardaddy perform Western dry work and over challenging obstacles:
Watch Sugardaddy being ridden English, and being trained to pull a cart:
After making sure that your horse has no physical ailments, the next step is to desensitize that area. As a point of interest, people who imprint their foals and have aspirations to train them to be performance horses, do not desensitize this area. They leave this area naturally sensitive so that cues can be given by the rider.
Is there significance to defecation when training horses in an enclosed area, i.e. Is it nerviness or release?
Question: Do you think with age come limitations in being able to become a better rider/ handler? I ask this because I am 46 years old and up until I bought Honey 5 years ago I hadn’t ridden or handled a horse in more than 20 years. I always think there is so much more to learn about horses but I wonder if I have left it all too late. I came to see Monty at a demo recently and it made me realize that it has taken him a lifetime to get where he is today and you too have had a wealth of experience.
Monty’s Answer: Thank you for sending through this question inquiring as to the potential for becoming a good horse person at the age of 46. Given recent experiences I’ve had, I’m very pleased to answer this question, as I believe that it has the potential to help many ladies and gentlemen too. To give you my feelings on this subject I would like to eliminate myself, as much as possible, from the scenario.
My life on a horse’s back began well before I could speak and it has been seven decades now of intense riding and the studying of horsemanship and equine behavior involving many disciplines and virtually all breeds. It is my students and acquaintances that I would like to report on. First let me say that I appreciate your concern and I hear within your question an attention to safety and what you can physically expect to accomplish.
This is a good attitude and we should always respect the potential for moving forward only when we’re as safe as possible and as comfortable as we can be with the activity that we’re pursuing. Having said that, let me state categorically that I consider 46 to be a child. It is important that if there are years of reduced physical activity then it is a good idea to get one’s body in the best shape possible.
Pilates and other forms of core stability fitness can be a tremendous advantage in the area of safety and even enjoyment. Getting fit is great for one to enjoy their middle years and riding horses is simply a bonus in terms of increasing the potential for pleasure in those years. Do not lose sight of the fact that the choice of a safe horse is critical. Furthermore, the assistance of knowledgeable coaching is a major factor.
The right coach will see to it that you are equipped appropriately which is another factor that definitely needs to be attended to if you are to enjoy your activity and remain safe while conducting it. One should do strong diligence on the individual chosen to assist in this effort and they should have significant experience with horses and the coaching of riders as well. If you desire to take up riding again, then with the above-mentioned factors in place, you should charge into the project with great excitement. It can be a wonderful experience, as I will point out using two of my acquaintances as examples.
Charlotte Bredahl was born in Denmark, rode as a child and came to the United States in 1979. She had been studying dressage and was considered a potential for high-level performance in her chosen discipline. Charlotte went to work in her 20s and made the US Olympic Team. She was the recipient of the bronze medal in dressage in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. After returning to the US, Charlotte put riding on the back burner.
As a realtor, Charlotte placed business at the peak of her interest and while she rode it was not her primary activity. Charlotte lives near our property in California and I watched in the past two years as she moved back into the area of serious horsemanship. Charlotte is now well over 50 and I watched her riding high-level dressage today. She is now riding five top class dressage prospects each day and having a lot of fun with it.
Charlotte emphasized the fact that she worked hard at getting fit again and I can attest to the fact that she is in fantastic shape now, feels well and is having the time of her life with her favorite past time. It is a pleasure to watch Charlotte ride. The second example that I am choosing to bring to you is an acquaintance that, to me, demonstrates amazingly well the answer to your question. The subject lady is 76 years of age at this writing.
She rode occasionally through her teens and then took up, principally, Western pleasure riding in her 20s. She rode occasionally until 1970. At the age of 34 she launched a successful career as an artist. Our subject remained a popular artist and is to this day. In 2009 at the age of 73, she decided not only to ride again, but also to ride in Western competition.
She did get herself in good physical condition and acquired a horse that was appropriate for her. She enlisted top notch coaching as well. This past year with three years completed in her reentry into riding our subject vintage lady won a year-end championship in the Western division of nonprofessional “Working Cow Horse.” This means that she was working cattle at top speed and under conditions that would be considered challenging for anyone including riders in their 20s.
She stated to me that she feels she is riding better now than she ever did in those early years of her horsemanship. She told me that she was now able to actually think things through more clearly and learn at a greater pace than she ever could in those early years. She respects her need for safety and has competed without negative incident.
It is important for me to state that these are two extreme examples. I am not suggesting that anyone, man or woman, needs to include competition with their riding, whether it is the beginning of their career or, as in this case, a reentry later in life. One may choose to ride strictly for pleasure or enter into activities that are slightly competitive, or, in fact, full on competition and as long as it is safe and enjoyable, I am all for it. In England, one of the slightly competitive activities is BHS Trek. There are many more fun elements of horsemanship, which are only slightly competitive. Probably the most often activity chosen is to simply ride with friends for the fun of it.
At 77 I can say that I feel myself still learning and I still ride. It is my opinion that while I can’t physically do many of the things that I did in my early professional career, I can understand the mental processes of learning better now than I ever could. Someone coined the phrase, “Use it or lose it” and I think that this is a fair statement to make. Your question gives me the chance to advise many individuals in that mid-life range that horses and riding can be a part of extending life and causing our vintage years to be more enjoyable if we choose to treat it with respect. I gave you two examples but believe me there are thousands out there, “Go for it, girl.”
Question: I have purchased a 14-year-old bombproof mare but she comes from an area without trains. I live in a rural area but I cannot go very far without crossing train tracks. What is the best way to introduce a horse to a train? On this road there is about 5 other horse owners, but none take their horses near the trains. Though some own driving horses, these people go on wagon train rides and are careful to avoid the trains. The trains are an infrequent, but daily occurrence. I intend to let Black become accustomed to the train rather than avoid the train altogether. I live in coal country and there are at least 3 spots where I can expose her to trains without interfering with traffic. However, I would like to drive her to the post office, etc. and there is 1 train crossing with bells and poles that come down.
The State of MD is spraying trees to eradicate some bug. I am in the center of a forest. The helicopter flew over my property and directly over Blackie and made about 4 passes within 50′ of Blackie. The spray was quite visible and the helicopter was only about 50′ above the ground. When I got outside she was looking up at the helicopter and watched as my goats either slammed into fences or jumped them to get to me. The geese and turkeys were also quite frightened. By the third pass of the helicopter, Blackie seemed more interested in the hay in front of her than helicopter. My goats would not leave my side the rest of the day but Blackie did not seem to need me at all.
I did not see the helicopter & Blackie at the moment of the first pass, but when I went out to check she was about 30′ away from her hay. I went out as soon as I heard the helicopter and missed seeing Blackie’s reaction by about 10 seconds. I assume she “spooked” and ran 30′ but when I got to the outside she was looking up at it the helicopter not running. She went back to her breakfast. Looked up for subsequent passes but did not stop munching. Can I assume a similar reaction to the train?
Monty’s Answer: Thank you for the time that you took to explain Blackie’s fears. As is the case with so many interested horse people out there, you have answered your own question. There is a test for you. You might ask “Where did I answer my own question?” You did so with the following words “But she comes from an area without trains”. You are telling me that if she came from an area where there were trains that she would be just fine with trains and you are absolutely right.
Don’t worry. We’re going to get through this because I do realize that this simply does not give you enough information. Remember that I often say to my audiences and write in my books. Every horse on the face of the earth is frightened of pigs, unless they are raised on a pig farm. If so, they are perfectly fine with pigs. Most pig farm raised horses love pigs and considers them good friends. There is a lesson to be learned from this phenomenon.
Horses are frightened of anything that they are not familiar with. Their DNA has set them up this way and they simply would not have lived as a species for 50 million years if they failed to think that way. As a child I traveled, with horses, to many horse shows on a train. My horses hadn’t been raised around trains so I had to work out how best to let them know that the train wasn’t going to kill them. I remember exactly how we did it.
Salinas, California has a train track and a depot. It is an agricultural area and there is a lot of freight train loading of vegetables destined for all parts of the United States. Just west of Salinas along the tracks there are some cattle and horse farms. The tracks are laid down in multiples and they are called switching tracks. This means that there are switch engines that move along 2 or 3 cars at a time and park them on the side to be loaded.
After the loading is complete the cars are switched on to the main track hooked to the larger freight train and off they go. We found a dairy farm near the tracks, right in the area of switching. There was high activity on those tracks. We made a deal with the dairy farmer to allow for some horses to be put in the field next to the tracks. After 2-3 days and nights the horses would graze right along the fence and never even look up when the train went by.
Remember that when this was going on we still had steam engines (choo choos). They were awesome, noisy and huge. The trains of today sound like a Rolls Royce compared to the trains of my childhood. Remember also that switch tracks have signals going almost constantly. The signals of my day were called WigWags which was a very large stop sign-like hunk of metal which wagged back and forth on a long metal arm like a giant pendulum on an antique clock.
If you are innovative I think you can come up with someone who has property along the tracks who can assist you. It is well to remember that there are many items at home that can aid you in your efforts. One can start with something as small as an electric toothbrush and work your way all the way up to a leaf blower. Quads can help a lot. They are like a four wheeled motor cycle and very noisy. There are kids in your community that would love to help.
For $5 they will have races up and down in front of your horses stable for a half hour or so. Remember that it is essential to train to these frightening sights and sounds in different locations and at different times of the day. In order to get the job done properly one must do it while on the ground and while in the saddle. Remember to take care and be extremely incremental. Start with the easiest challenge and work your way upward being very cautious not to over match your horse.