Archive for July, 2013


Tough Training Techniques

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Correspondence between Monty and Readers of Ask Monty

From: Danell Adams to Monty


I rcv your updates on a regular basis and enjoy the stories and information. However, today I received the response to horses not wishing to be caught…and you referenced a Peruvian Horse…a national champion yet…and then you commented:

“Thank you. It comes under the heading “what a small world we live in”. About three months ago I received into training a Peruvian Paso owned by a lady in Southern California. In his show career he was a national champion. The fact is however his start in life was under the tutelage of South American style horsemanship. He too would do anything you ask when he was completely in the grasp of forceful and very violent horse trainers, straight from Peru”

I found your comments here to be very disrespectful and very likely stated from no factual basis. “Violent horse trainers…straight from Peru”?

I own Peruvians and have been riding them for 48 years. Certainly, I have also been to Peru. Yes, there are certainly inappropriate training methods used there…and here!! But, your generic comment about the Peruvian trainers is offensive to me and certainly to the many Chalans there and here in the US who are extraordinary trainers with soft voices and light hands. A Chalan working with one of my babies sat with me to explain the personality of this particular filly…”never raise your voice” he said, “it will never be necessary.” Very violent trainers straight from Peru????

If this woman told you this horse came from A ranch and A trainer in/from Peru, then your comment should have been specific and singular. I am aware of no peruvian trainer in So Cal who employs “violent” methods….or they would not be here working! But I doubt she saw anything with this particular horse…or why would she purchase??

I sit on a So Cal board of directors as well as the National Organization and I feel you owe an apology to our breed, the Peruvians and our chalans for printing such a disrespectful and offensive generic comment that reads as if directed to the country and it’s trainers!


To: Danell Adams from Monty

Dear Danell:

I have received and taken note of your response to my report on the Peruvian Paso presently in training here. First, let me say that reading your response causes me to believe that we are two individuals on the same side of this issue. Let me go on to say that I try very hard, every time I criticize violent training, to indicate that it not everybody that acts in this way. In re-reading the message I sent out, it is clear that I neglected to follow my own rules.

Let me state categorically that there are wonderful people in Peru, Chili, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico and many other south, central and north America that are strongly opposed to violent forceful training of their horses. Unfortunately, in South America, the percentage of these people is extremely low. I go to Brazil next week to continue my work in changing the mindset of the horsemen who are working with wonderful animals that deserve the best.

It is not clear to me whether you realize that I am looking for the positives to congratulate for their efforts rather than blaming and exposing the perpetrators of violence. It is not my opinion that you do not want me to go to the area of causing the world to know just how violent the breaking procedures are in most of South America. I can prove it. I have been there to each of these countries and I have met with the people who conduct these violent sessions.

It is possible that you are not aware that on June 24, 2012, I accompanied Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of England, to present certificates to nine outstanding individuals that are changing the world of horse breaking in South America, Central America and Mexico. These ranged from a young horse breaker in central Brazil to a investment banker who is backing education in Brazil, a Guatemalan owner and three of the top polo players of the world.

Memos Gracida, Carlos Gracida and Adolpho Cambioso have owned the game of polo for about 40 years. They did South American breaking. They then came here to learn my way when it realized that more than 50 percent of their prospects were lost to injury or death. I have them on tape along with dozens of other South American horsemen stating how wrong that area has been for hundreds of years. You do not want me to begin to expose these.

It is far more productive, in my opinion, to look for the positives and you may well be one of those positives, but if you are, what you say you are, you are rare and you know you are rare. I have spent significant time in each of the countries I have listed and I do not speak through guesswork. I would love to invite you to come to my farm in Solvang, California and show me your work. I would love to use what influence I have to support your efforts.

If, in fact, you are, what you say you are, you could be a very good role model for the countries in question. Brazil is changing more rapidly than any geographic area since we began to domesticate horses 6,000 years ago. In the past three years, the rule books of the Mangalarga Marchador have been turned upside down. Violence is no longer tolerated in the competitions and hundreds are going to school to learn a new way of thinking and eliminating violence.

We are working with the government of Brazil to stop financing the schools that they have been conducting where horses are treated exactly as I now have on tape. The mindset of the culture of Brazil was so broad based that they audience would cheer whistling and yelling out, when the horses were thrown to the ground or beaten with rawhide whips. These acts are in front of audiences at public shows. I have it on tape with the sound clearly substantiating.

None of this is to excuse the fact that I did not praise the work of individuals in each of these countries that are in fact kind and fair with their horses. For this exclusion, I apologize deeply and with all sincerity. I am not looking to find the negatives. I am looking to find the positives. Please continue to dialogue with me so that I can include you on the list of extremely important people to the horses of South America. I will back up the statements I am making.

From: Danell Adams to Monty


While I appreciate your response, your public email strongly and generically criticized South American and Peruvian Chalans. In my estimation, your apology…or failure to follow your own rules…needs to appear on the same public site on which you made these very negative, generic comments. The National Board has been informed of your response and also believes a public apology is warranted.

Your comments are spreading through the Peruvian community. It is our understanding that the horse you are referencing may be HMS Achillies, sold to a woman in Orange County by a ranch in Hemet. If so, this gelding was bred and trained by a man…and personal in Southern California. He has been in the US most of his adult life and is one of the most soft spoken and gentle people you could meet, which also reflects in his training methods. The horse was purchased from him to be used by an amateur in performance classes. His “brio” at his young age is not uncommon. I am personally familiar with him as I also looked at purchasing him.

While I can appreciate your experience in your travels, it really has no relevance to your comment about very violent training methods by trainers straight from Peru…neither of which are remotely correct or appropriate. With your personal background in abusive environments, it would be like assuming that you too are also abusive…which we know couldn’t be further from the truth. While your generic comments may be regarding specific experiences you have had, they DO NOT apply to this horse, this breeder and trainer and certainly, the significant majority of our Peruvian trainers…not Brazilian. To make a comment like this could lend to people believing the Peruvian horses owned and trained by Chalans may not be good purchases due to your comment about their training background. “Oh, Monty says the Peruvian horses are trained by very violent methods.” Can that affect our sales and breed? Sure it could. Please understand my analogy here…not good!

Many are waiting to see if you make a public apology on this matter. I think our trainers and breed deserve this. The majority of Peruvians here in the US ARE trained by chalans….not “straight from Peru”…but rather in this country for 20 and 30+ years! This includes the breeder/trainer involved with Achilles. While your experience…and mine as well, certainly see abuse in all breeds, lets get back to your very generic comment….that is the primary point here. I am not concerned about the need to “back up statements here”….I agree with you about the abuses…just not your generic comment in this particular situation. It is an isolated comment that needs to be corrected as you have clearly implied that the problem with this particular horse is due to these “very violent” training methods which is simply not the case by any stretch and points directly to one breeder/trainer in particular.

I have been following your work for years and have read much of your material. It is incredibly disappointing…and inappropriate to read this type of comment coming from you directed to our breed. If you neglected to follow your own rules, then your apology should be public.

Thank you for your very serious consideration in this matter.



To: Danell Adams from Monty

Dear Danell,

I write this letter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I am here to continue my work to help South American people understand that the overwhelmingly brutal techniques that are seen in South America when horsemen gather are clearly not effective and not acceptable. Each day when I arise I begin to make mistakes and throughout the day I continue to do the same. I consider each mistake I make an opportunity to learn. It is with this in mind that I was quick to write you back to say that I made a mistake. Whenever I criticize any group of given people I should always state that it may not apply to each and every horseman in the geographic area. In my writing, I didn’t do this.

Over the years I have written to many people apologizing for one error or another. Some are gracious in accepting the apology and some are not. Unfortunately you have fallen into the second category. I am happy to use the same newsletter to publicize my apology letter to you and intended to do so from the outset. The fact is I did not want to do that until I had communicated to you personally. I thought that was a gesture of respect to you; however you have chosen to criticize me even for the gesture of respect to you. Let me say to you that we will be reviewing many videos of South American breaking on this very trip. It will be a part of my study.

If I were to begin to attempt to prove what the typical South American breaking style is, I believe I would offend many individuals who have no idea of the incredible brutality of this region. Your comments would tend to cause me to verify this by making these videos public. I am not sure this is a good idea. Further, I have no idea what horse you are referring to in your letter back to me. I am not in the business of embarrassing people by blind-siding them nor do I think it matters who it was that caused this horse the incredible fear that he expressed. His response is quite often seen in the horses that I deal with who have been through South American breaking.

In your return letter you made no mention of the program I have to honor South American horsemen for changing their brutal ways. One of my recipients is called Mateus. I regard him as a wonderful young man who is soft spoken and polite when you meet him. I have video of him beating a horse half to death with a crowd of thousands cheering each time the horse fell to the ground. One would be delusional if we observed South American style breaking and then just said these are all nice people, soft hands and caring. I regard them as nice people with high levels of talent. They have simply been raised in a culture where violence is exulted.

When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth saw videos from South America she was, as most people are, angry with the humans involved in these sessions. It was my encouragement to learn how to accept the fact that these were potentially good horsemen, who were culturally imprinted, could change. It seems to me that you are obsessed with blaming me instead of realizing that we are far closer to the same side than we are to the opposite sides. This is your choice and I must accept your position. There is no way that I agree with it, nor will I change my desire to bring South America into the world of non-violent horsemanship.

Thank you for the time you took to express your views. It is my opinion that you will eventually realize that I am on the side of the horses and of good horsemen. I sat recently with the top Polo players of Argentina and you should hear their stories of what has been considered traditional South American breaking. It is my opinion that in order to change, each of us must want the truth. As caring horsemen we should want to see what actually happens and help these wonderful people set aside a culture of violence toward horses. I will continue in my attempts with my last breath and leave students to work after I am gone.

My daughter Debbie and I will ponder whether or not it’s a good idea to make public footage of these brutal breakings. Just know that I had no intention of doing so until your response. I accept your correspondence as a challenge to my own honesty and integrity. And if I need to prove what I have said

is true, then perhaps I should do it. Please understand that I have nothing against you personally and I have dealt with many fans of South American horsemanship who also want the status quo to be protected. I suppose the best way is to bring it into the light of day and let the caring horse world see it for real.

It has come to my mind that you exhibit a strong need to protect the world of the Peruvian Paso and the association that represents them. I respect that and I love the breed itself. I further recognize that you have come to admire the Peruvian people and I have stated categorically that I have as well. It is my opinion that they are not bad people. They are only the result of a culture that has accepted methods which I believe are less than effective and morally wrong. It seems to me that you must allow me to have my opinion the same as I am allowing you to have yours. I am dedicated to the horses of the world.


From: Danell Adams to Monty

Hello again Monty,

It is unfortunate that my attempt to point out a single horse and comment has been turned around in this manner. While I was not criticizing you as a horseman…and a fine one…I was criticizing a single comment regarding a single horse trained and bred by a fine Peruvian. It was simply that your reference unfortunately read to include many and not one. I do not know your experience with Peruvians..horses or trainers. I just felt that your generic response…and a violation of your own rule, as you stated…was worthy of an apology in the public realm in which it was first presented

I am personally preparing to travel to rescue abused horses….starved. We all do the best we can, each in our little corner of the world… to give these gorgeous animals the care and attention they need and deserve. I’m sorry you took my comments any other way.

We can all show horrible photos of such abuse right here in the US. It is an unfortunate reality that we all contend with on a daily basis.


From: Helen Diaz to Monty

Dear Mr. Roberts:

I met you a few years ago in Wellington, Florida, during the Christmas Extravaganza. You rode of young chestnut filly and we were very impressed with your style. Despite your being surrounded by stuck up Dressage equestrians, most appreciated you. Believe me, I know. I’m one of them. Before you went in the ring, you approached me and found me to be less than receptive. My apologies.

Your “hard to catch” article mentions Peruvian Pasos and their trainers. I’m sure you will receive numerous feedback relating to this article. I live in Miami, Florida, which is the Paso Fino capital in the US. I’ve owned several Paso Finos, as well as Arabians, and Dressage sport horses. My formal Dressage education commenced in 1971.

I too am not a fan of the “South American training” style. Since I purchased my first Paso Fino in 1976, I’ve observed a growing number of Colombian trainers in South Florida. Regrettably, this style of training has become mainstream here and throughout the US in the Paso world.

This article is far more important than you’ll know. It has been an unspoken taboo, which most folks refuse to face. Owners don’t care if a trainer utilizes acceptable training methods. They only care their horse wins in the ring.

In fact, numerous “trainers” come to the US, claiming to be trainers from Colombia and we later find they were only barn hands, mucking out stalls. Were you aware women are banned from showing Paso Finos in Colombia’s upper divisions?

To make matters worse, due to the current economic situation, especially in the horse world, many have taken up farrier work. Numerous horses have been ruined (one in my barn died), due to inappropriate farrier practices performed by these men.

Thank you for writing this article and bringing forward a subject that few have the courage to address. Wishing you and your family continued success.


To Helen from Monty

Dear Helen,

Thank you very much for your response to my recent writing. This correspondence is coming from Jacarei, just outside of Sao Paulo in Brazil. I have just completed my first Two-Day Clinic on the property of Eduardo Moreira who is helping us bring our message to Brazil. I have two outstanding students of mine here helping me with the clinic. One is from Brazil and the other is from Italy now living in Brazil. Both are filled with stories of extreme abuse in this country.

In these past few days I have worked with about a dozen separate issues. Each owner has told their story and nearly all have related descriptions of extreme violence that the subject horses have been victims of. There is no question that I had more than 20 on my course who had conducted South American style breaking. Nearly every horse had remedial issues related to brutal tactics used upon these individuals in the past. The commonality was pervasive.

Many of the horses were first described to me as spooky. The testing procedures that I used would indicate that they were not spooky in the normal context of the term. They were simply phobically frightened of being beaten. These are wonderful horses of the Mangalarga blood. They have the same genetic background “Barb” as the horses titled Peruvian Paso and Paso Fino. They are wonderful horses that deserve far more humane training tactics than they typically receive.

Please understand that the people who train horses here live in a unique culture significantly different from most of the world. They are often talented individuals who are simply using the only way they know. It is not my desire to blame them. Indeed it is my mission to show them a different way which is then up to them to accept or reject. I watched several big strong men reduced to tears as they told me that I had changed their life; not just with horses but with their family too.

I often ask people to rent the old movie “A Few Good Men” then to listen to Jack Nicholson admonishing Tom Cruise that Cruise didn’t want the truth. Nicholson said “You can’t handle the truth”. If we, the horsemen of the world, hide our eyes and refuse to see the truth, then nothing will change. It is extremely difficult to muster up the courage to enter this sociological minefield. At 78, I don’t mind because the horses have been so good to me I must come to their assistance.

No one of us should blanket the South American horseman as there must be some human caring individuals in the mix. As I travel South America, however, it is becoming clear that the breaking procedures that include extreme violence amount to more than 90%. I will not hide my eyes nor will I fear sociological repercussions. Once I clearly demonstrate my concepts most of these talented horsemen come to thank me with exuberance; these are good people.


Helping Employees Turn Their Performance Around

Monday, July 8th, 2013

by Dr. Susan Cain and Debbie Roberts-Loucks

Recently, we received an interesting request for information. The sender, a human resources professional, saw a correlation between what Monty does in the round pen with horses to inspire trust and motivation and how it can impact the workplace. Click here to download further information about the retreats and workshops based on Monty’s principles that are offered to corporations at Flag Is Farms.

Dear Monty,

Have you ever looked at applying “Equus” in changing the progressive disciplinary systems of companies? If yes, I would love to get my hands on materials that you have developed for this purpose. If not, I’d especially enjoy speaking with you again and see what your thoughts are on this.

Creating circumstances to help horses or humans perform at their best requires similar skills.

A round pen and a learning environment in the workplace must start with the absence of fear, an abundance of support and encouragement, transparent expectations, and a negotiated agreement to moving forward. Force can create short-term responses, but can build resentment later. Monty shared a story from his book, the New York Times Best Seller, The Man Who Listens to Horses:

The most influential teacher in my educational career was a nun by the name of Sister Agnes Patricia. The thing I will always remember about her is that she taught me about teaching itself. It was her belief that no teacher could ever teach anyone anything. She felt her task, as a teacher was to create an environment in which the student can learn.

Her opinion was that knowledge needs to be pulled into the brain by the student, not pushed into it by the teacher. Knowledge was not to be forced on a student. The brain has to be receptive, malleable and most importantly desirous of that knowledge. I apply the same philosophy to training horses. To use the word ‘teach’ implies an injection of knowledge, but it is my opinion – garnered from Sister Agnes – that there is no such thing as teaching, only learning.

Setting the right environment for an employee to turn performance around starts with the assumption that improvements cannot be forced.

We have created three vital lessons that taken from “Join-Up”:

1. Respect for freedom of choice: In the round pen, free choice is placed on the table and the human leader offers support for change. In the workplace, an effective manager or leader might also disclose consequences if a performance is not improved. The crucial learning lesson from the round pen is that free choice is engaged, and horse or human have options-resist or engage. Resentence, the ability to say no, forms the basis for any possible commitment, replacing compliance and lip service. As a trainer, Monty treats horses that are resistive with the same respect as horses that have decided to “Join-Up.”

2. Resist the temptation to react: Tension and reaction limit the ability to manage the changing situation. Stay neutral and step outside the need to fix. Stay involved and available. Listen to your follower. Offer affirmation. How can you facilitate the situation so that it culminates in the best interest for all?

3. Generate options: If the follower decides not to “Join-Up” and improve performance, be very careful about lowering your standards to accommodate their choice. There are still many options for them, including employment elsewhere, a change in position, or other options that perhaps they were unable to see before. What skill or information gaps can you help close to help them move forward?

Even a horse that decides to “Join-Up” has specific fears to overcome and lessons to learn. How can you help your follower move forward, even if it is not with you?

Watch the Join-Up in Monty’s video above, and think about other ways you can transfer the key learning’s from round pen to the office. Contact Susan Cain for more information at