Posts Tagged ‘non-violent horse training’

 

How sensitive is your horse?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
Question:
My horse is very sensitive in the flank and the stifle area. When I am grooming her, she seems to get very angry. She puts her ears back and even acts as though she would kick me. When I brush or touch her in the area of the flank or the stifle, she moves her hips toward me and not away. If I push harder, she pushes much harder against me. She has pinned me up against the wall several times and it’s very frightening. What should I do, Mr. Roberts? My instructor says that I should not go into her stall without a whip. I don’t want to whip her, but I don’t want her to hurt me either. There must be a solution to this problem. Can you help me? Sincerely, “Extremely Frightened!”
  
Monty’s Answer:    
Thank you for your inquiry. This is actually a subject near and dear to my heart. This is the pattern of behavior that causes so much trouble with horses in the starting stalls in racing. There are rails inside the stalls which jut out toward the horse. They are there to protect the feet of the jockey but in my opinion, they cause more trouble than they save. The horse that is sensitive in the flanks and stifles will go ‘into pressure’ particularly if its applied to that area of their body. I have maintained for most of my adult life that horses are ‘into pressure’ animals. It is the same phenomenon as we see in the human baby as they bring in new teeth. 
 
The gums are irritated and the child gets comfort from pressing hard on them typically from a teething ring. The horse has survived, in part, because they have learned to go into the sharp pain of a dog biting in the region of the flank. If the horse should run away the dog would simply rip the flesh allowing the intestines to exit the body and the dog makes a successful kill. Survival of the fittest has caused horses to behave with an ‘into pressure’ pattern of dealing with sharp pain. One must use soft grooming brushes on this type of horse and be very careful about staying out of the kick zone. It is essential that we treat this area carefully.
 
You have probably trained your horse to move off pressure without even knowing it. While riding, you will put a leg against your horses side and when the horse moves off the leg, you remove the pressure. You have probably done this on both sides of your horse. Most likely, when your horse was ridden only a few times, there was a tendency to move into the rider’s leg and not away from it. Eventually however your horse learned it was better to move away from the leg. At this present time I have some experiments going on which may prove to be a help with the very problem that you have described. It is to see if we can teach the horse to move off pressure in the area of the flanks. 
 
In order to alter this behavior, I have asked that a soccer ball be attached to the end of a strong bamboo pole. I have asked that the pole be about 6 feet long (2 meters). The ball is actually taped onto the end of the stick, covered with sponge and more tape applied… any way to cause the bamboo stick to be safe when pushed against the horses flanks. I direct the handler to press the ball into the area of the flanks, and stay with it if the horse pushes back. After a few minutes of work, most horses will step away experimenting with how to get the pressure off the ball in the flank. With the slightest step away the handler will remove the ball immediately, releasing all pressure.
 
The reason for the large ball is so that the horse feels no sharp pain. After removing the ball the handler should proceed to the other side and repeat the process. When one can achieve behavior that is immediately off pressure instead of into pressure, you’re well on your way to a successful alteration of deeply imbedded behavioral patterns. Having accomplished this you will be safer to groom, open gates more easily and even have better flying lead changes than you could achieve prior to training your horse to move off pressure even when it’s in the flank area. It is still early in this experimentation, but I think I am the first person to set up this kind of trial. 

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.

 

Monty Roberts Corporate Training Events

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

MR_Corp_events_blog_logo

Preparing for More Effective Presentations Using…

Horse Training?  

By Dr. Susan Cain and Debbie Roberts-Loucks

We were lucky to be invited recently to a Huey Lewis concert, and then to go meet Mr. Lewis back stage prior to the show. We went to the show with Pat and Monty Roberts.

When we got to the concert venue, we were ushered backstage. There was quietness before the show-no sign of backstage jitters or stage fright by anyone about to go on stage. Someone asked Mr. Lewis what he did to prepare for his show. He looked around, adjusted his glasses and said simply, “Change my shirt.”

We liked that answer. It showed how lightly Mr. Lewis wore his fame, and reminded me that even high profile people have a choice in the way they prepare for an event or meeting. After that statement, Mr. Lewis took the stage and the audience readily responded to his low-key sincerity.

On another recent occasion, we spoke with a colleague, a fellow graduate school instructor. His words about how he prepared for each class struck us as useful. “I don’t worry about class time,” he related. ” I prepare for each class, then enjoy myself once in class,” he said. It struck us that Mr. Lewis had done just that-albeit with minimal last minute preparation.

Many of us have to prepare for what we perceive as high-pressure meetings. Our anxiety in the meeting can steer an otherwise good meeting toward a tense, pressurized encounter. We have an antidote to that scenario- a different way of putting anxiety into a more useful place. We suggest looking to horses for a solution.

For thousands of years of domestication, horses as flight animals have developed a keen sensitivity to human adrenalin levels. They know when anxiety levels are high in humans, and when they are low. According to New York Times Best Selling Author Monty Roberts, it is more useful for training (read, learning) when adrenalin and anxiety levels are lower. Mr. Roberts uses a process of training called Join-Up to establish a relationship with a horse that relies on trust to relax and enable the horse to learn. He mirrors the horse by using the horses’ own language of gestures-a language Mr. Roberts calls Equus.

“Adrenaline up, learning down, adrenalin down, learning up,” says Mr. Roberts about the usefulness of nerve-wracking learning encounters. How can this perspective inform your own preparation for presentations or training meetings? It’s simple, for your next presentation, try doing the following:

1. Prepare for your meeting or presentation to the point of complete comfort with the materials you will present.

2. Rehearse, role-play, practice. Know your material cold.

3. Once at your meeting, enjoy the company you are with and let your presentation roll out. Connect with your audience. Relax, breath normally, you know your stuff!

For your next presentation, try the above suggestion-use your nervous energy to drive meeting preparation and then relax once you are into the meeting. Enjoy. Your anxiety levels will be lower, and so will the anxiety levels of your audience.

Debbie Roberts-Loucks and Dr. Susan Cain design and facilitate unique corporate training events. Find out more about MPRI corporate training opportunities by visiting the corporate events page at www.montyroberts.com.

Obtain a copy of the workbook: Life Lessons from The Man Who Listens to Horses

 

How to Prepare Your Horse for the Farrier

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Question:

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.

arm

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.

 

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.

 

Monty Roberts’ Lessons from the Roundpen Part I

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

LESSONS FROM THE ROUNDPEN PART I
By Monty Roberts

We live in restless times. In almost every area of life people can feel that things are changing and indeed must change. But no one knows where the necessary changes will lead or what they will mean for those concerned.

What, you may be asking yourself, can Monty Roberts, a Californian horse trainer, contribute in such times of general insecu­rity? To find the answer, the best place to start is with horses, because for me too, that is where everything be­gan. I was born on a ranch in Salinas, California, and learned to ride as a small child. My father was a horse trainer but our relationship was strained, to say the least. I could never come to terms with the violent methods with which he would quite literally break the will of young horses until they obeyed him out of naked fear. By observing wild mustangs I later developed my own special way of communicating with horses that would ultimately lead to the creation of my Join-Up principles.

Very briefly, Join-Up is about causing the horse to want to be with you instead of away from you. This is achieved by using the same communications sys­tem that horses use among themselves. People are often amazed when I get a very shy or aggressive animal to want to be with me in a very short time. But for the trainer or owner, that is just the start of their own learning process. If you are going to use the equine communication system, you have to learn it. That means learning a language and it takes time. But the effect it has on horses is that they become a partner with people instead of an adversary.

When owners turn to me they are often frustrated be­cause they just cannot get what they want from their horse. Some of these big, strong, fast animals have be­come dangerous. Why? Because their trainers have tried to force them to do something with violent methods. Us­ing violence is the biggest mistake people can make in dealing with horses. Horses are flight animals; they want no violence in their lives at all. And that is my starting point. I try to create a calm atmosphere by convincing the horse that I am not going to attack it and it can trust me. In that kind of atmosphere the horse then will do what I want it to of its own free will.

End of Part I of three posts

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