Archive for June, 2013


How sensitive is your horse?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
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.


Why We Love Horses

Friday, June 14th, 2013

What I love most about working with horses is the incredible gratification I feel when the horse clearly demonstrates to me that they are in favor of my techniques. It is amazing for me to work with horses globally, watch them achieve and express a clear acceptance of my work and then listen to critics who have their opinions about why my concepts are not affective. Recently I completed a science trial which will soon be made public I worked with seven horses every day (30 minutes) for twenty two days. It was an iron clad purely scientific study.

The trial compared Join-Up® to UK conventional. Every aspect was kept equal and pure. I was over joyed at the conclusion and as the preliminary results are coming in I am literally ecstatic. It is absolutely true that if I began to describe for you all things that I love about working with horses there wouldn’t be enough pages in your magazine to accommodate my answers. In fact there probably wouldn’t be enough pages in a year’s worth of your magazine to accommodate my answers. I am truly a human being who is doing what he loves to do. Should horsemen choose to learn and utilize my techniques they too would experience this joy.

It is an overwhelming condition of the mind by which ones entire life changes. When the full extent of my concepts are understood and utilized an appreciation for life in general comes over one, your friends, family and work mates will all benefit and your animals will find a joyous existence.


Upcoming Monty Roberts Special Training Workshop

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Come and  discover what horses have to teach us about  building lowering stress, and  building trust at the Monty Roberts Special Training  to be held at Flag Is Up Farms, in Solvang, California, from August 5-9, 2013.

“This intensive five-day training is the perfect environment for connecting with peers who know that horses have a lot to teach us”, commented Monty’s daughter and staff member Debbie Roberts-Loucks. “You will learn how Monty Roberts keeps stress out of his life with horses, and how to develop the motivation and  resilience  to achieve your life’s goals”, she added.

Roberts, the famous New York Times bestselling author of The Man Who Listens to Horses will share his life story about overcoming barriers, motivating yourself and lowering your stress levels to achieve your goals.

At the workshop, Monty will work with a range of young and remedial horses. By observing this unique and gifted man, participants will gain first-hand knowledge during demonstrations, lectures, and discussions. This class is for the novice rider, the non-rider, as well as the advanced student who wants to observe a master at work.

Monty will also demonstrate how to communicate with horses in their natural language in various situations during this intensive 5-day class. “The workshop is formatted to provide you with the educational tools you need to address leadership issues, ground manners, teaching to tie, crossing water (and/or obstacles), loading, head-shyness, mounting, bucking, standing for the farrier, kicking, and biting”, Roberts-Loucks continued.
This exclusive training program helps you better understand problem solving using Monty is violence-free training methods. Come and spend time with like-minded people absorbing what non-violent communication can be. Enjoy the included lunch and lively discussions too with Monty and students from around the world.

For more information, contact Flag Is Up Farms at (805) 688-3483 or805-688-6288 or email


The Starting Gate for Sensitive Racehorses

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Thank you very much for your question and I must say that I have been in France having fun with two horses that seemed to go into the starting stalls without any problem. The issue was that each of them refused to leave the starting stall when the gates flew open and the race was on. That can cause any owner to choke on his mint julep or in France it might be champagne. Watching your horse give the field twelve or fourteen lengths before choosing to leave the starting stall is a death knell to the best of racehorses. One of the horses I worked with gave the field fourteen lengths and then actually won the race. That’s how talented this young horse is.

He was entered back against much tougher company after calling in an expert to deal with him. He gave the next group of opponents another fourteen lengths and finished third beaten by only two lengths. These were high level competitors and one would have to ask just how good is this horse? I worked with him for ten days and it is my hope that he will get adequate human assistance before his next start which is scheduled for early July. It is a mile and one half race with a purse well over a half million US dollars. When I left France he was flying out of the starting gates. I almost feel that he was too keen following ten sessions of my work with him.

The problem, as I see it, is that this young horse was ultra sensitive to the touch and the rails inside the starting stall were simply too invasive. As Thoroughbreds set their feet for the start, they will generally spread wide behind and then push off like a rocket. As they leave the stall at top speed, their stifles are burned by the rails that jut out into the stall. This is not an uncommon occurrence and it requires innovation so as to protect the area of the flanks and the stifles as the horse leaves. I say that they protective blanket that I use was invented by a horse called Prince of Darkness. He was in training in Newmarket, England when they called me in to get him right.



Sir Mark Prescott was the trainer and I must say I knew absolutely nothing about the phenomenon of rail sensitivity. I would feel guilty about this except that no one else in the world knew anything about it either. I am sure the problem existed, but I think that everybody took the position that it was just a stubborn horse and had nothing to do with the rails. I worked for about a week with Prince of Darkness before realizing what his issues were. Once I had the protective blanket on him, the problem was over. We went straight to the races at Warwick in England where he was extremely successful in a field of 26 horses and the blanket now circles the globe.

So this is what I was doing in France and I will be happy to report on the ongoing progress of the two horses that are incidentally by the same sire, interesting, eh? Perhaps I can include their names and those of the connections, but I think we better wait to see what the outcome of my work actually amounts to. Let me tell you that France is no longer the country of good food, but they certainly know how to make out a huge bill for a dab of chicken with some sauce poured over it. I’m looking forward to more work in France, but next time I will insist upon a kitchen in my hotel room. One can actually buy food at a grocery store for a relatively reasonable price.

During the course of my stay, I met some wonderful people who were very helpful. They rescued me from my inability to navigate the pitfalls of Charles de Gaulle airport. It is a chaotic tangle of roadways that even the natives can’t fathom. My driver parked at 2E, an airline terminal and walked with me to the Sheraton in the middle of the airport. He asked at the reception desk, “Where do you park for the Sheraton Hotel?” and the answer was, “Wherever you want and then you walk to the hotel.” He said, “What about the bags?” And then they said, “The bags have wheels on them, don’t they?” Actually they did, but we could have used one of those push trolleys.

It is a different world out there, but I have to tell you that Chantilly is heaven for horses. There is one training gallop through the trees that is over two miles long on the straight.There are about 50 training gallops through the forest in the Chantilly area. It is natural sand and for thousands of years the leaves have worked their way into the soil to the extent that it has produced a surface like the finest protective mattress that a horse could train on. It rained heavily while I was there, but the incredible footing was never a problem to train over. Every horseman should make the trip to learn about this natural utopia for horses. It is phenomenal.