Posts Tagged ‘horses’


Monty Roberts Willing Partners™: NU HOLLYWOOD ZANE

Friday, October 11th, 2013
“Zane” is a 2010 grullo gelding 14.3hh. This easygoing horse is mentally and physically able to be the right partner for someone to have fun with for a long time. He has accepted all of the challenges presented in his training program with the right mindset. He will make someone a wonderful Willing Partner.


Watch Zane’s first Join-Up and first saddle with Monty:




Monty Roberts Willing Partners™: KING ZEBRA MAGIC

Friday, October 11th, 2013
“Zebra” is a 2010 grullo gelding 14.3hh. This is a good example of a horse who is willing to learn, fun to ride and has a great disposition. His ability to be confident in his job offers a great future for him. His unique markings make him an attractive gelding that will always catch people’s eye.


Watch Zebra work on the flat in both Western as well as English tack:

Zebra at the beach at Hollister Ranch!





Monty Roberts Willing Partners™: DOX STARLIGHT

Friday, October 11th, 2013
This athletic Willing Partner has been trained for reining and working cow horse events in addition to the compulsory training all Willing Partners receive. Dox was bred, raised and trained by Monty and Pat and team. In fact, he is a great grandson of Monty’s beloved horse, Johnny Tivio. Pat has always enjoyed running the breeding program, choosing the correct stallion to cross on her broodmares in order to produce the best and brightest young horses possible. Since the 1960′s, she has managed to produce champions in both performance as well as in halter competitions. There are currently three Willing Partners who have come from Pat’s program: Dox Starlight, Nic’s Mojo and CU Sudden. Dox is a 2006 bright chestnut gelding 15hh.


Watch Dox ridden under saddle in both Western and English tack:



Monty Roberts Willing Partners™: KING COYOTE QUIXOTE

Friday, October 11th, 2013
“King” is a 2010 grullo gelding 14.3hh. This nicely put together, eye-catching grullo is very attentive, intelligent and keen to learn. With his athletic ability, he will have the opportunity to excel in many areas whether it is western or English or just out on the trail.


 Watch King under saddle in both English and Western tack:





Monty Roberts Willing Partners™: HOLLYWOOD GLADIATOR

Friday, October 11th, 2013
“Gladiator” is a 2009 buckskin gelding 15hh. This horse is very gentle, easygoing and kind natured. His diversity and acceptance of different situations gives one confidence and the opportunity to have a great ride. Can be ridden western or English.


Watch Gladiator Join-Up with Monty:



Monty Roberts Willing Partners™: Sugar Daddy

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
“Sugardaddy” is a 2009 grey gelding 15.2hh. This horse is an intelligent partner with a generous and sweet nature. His smooth gaits make him a pleasure to ride. Can be ridden Western or English.


Watch Sugardaddy perform Western dry work and over challenging obstacles:


Watch Sugardaddy being ridden English, and being trained to pull a cart:



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 do some horses defecate at the start of a training session?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013


Is there significance to defecation when training horses in an enclosed area, i.e. Is it nerviness or release?

Monty’s Answer:

Let me say right at the outset that I discuss this phenomenon quite often as I do my demonstrations. If I have written an answer to this question, I can’t remember having done so. But before I answer the question, there is a significant amount of mind organizing that I feel compelled to do. First of all let me state that I have no idea why you use ‘enclosed area’ as a parameter to this behavior. Without any question this is a natural physiological phenomenon brought about by a psychological trigger. This phenomenon dates back millions of years before there was any enclosure of any kind and has nothing to do with fences, walls or any man-made structure.
In addition, I outline two options as to why this phenomenon might take place: you use the terms nerviness or release which limits me to a conclusion that is not the answer to why defecation takes place in times of fear, stress or uncertainty. Remember that horses are neophobic. Anything new or viewed with uncertainty causes certain physiological activity brought about by a psychologically induced state of concern. These circumstances occur because of environmental concerns regardless of the horse’s vocation.
The fact is that evidence suggests that this phenomenon occurred on the open plains of North Africa millions of years before there were humanoid creatures residing on this planet. When the horse is subjected to sight, sound, smell or tactile fears, circumstances occur within their physiology whereby certain fluids are secreted directly into the intestinal tract. There is an immediate loosening of the bowels often causing uncontrollable defecation. It has been estimated that a stressful circumstance may easily release 10-20 pounds of fecal material in a very few minutes.
In years past Pat and I spent many hours sitting in the sales pavilion of the world’s highest level of Thoroughbreds at auction. Each sales ring had a staff member with a scoop and a tub to pick up droppings from about 98% of every young Thoroughbred that passed through the ring. We got to know some of those fellows who had this job. I remember so well Joe at Keeneland who had been the official pooper-scooper for 40 years before retirement. I remember asking him how many horses went through that ring without clearing their bowels. He told me that it averaged probably one per day and a day at Keeneland would see almost 400 pass through the pavilion.
Now just remember that these youngsters had been taken from their stable about 45 minutes before entering the ring. They would move to an area where they would be visually examined by hundreds of prospective buyers while standing still with approx. 12 other youngsters forming two lines. These horses were asked to move forward about 50 feet at the conclusion of a sale forward of their travel within the pavilion. About 15 minutes before their pavilion entry they were asked to enter the pavilion. Their first experience within the building was to walk in a large circle about 80 feet in diameter.
Prospective buyers swarm through the central portion watching their action at the walk. Several hundred surround the circle peering from behind a four foot wall. As the time for their sale draws closer each individual is asked to stand in a hallway while serious buyers and veterinarians execute a close examination. Finally, our horse is asked to walk through a very large sliding door into a theater type pavilion with a 1000 or so viewers and an auctioneer rattling English words through a public address system sounding like a machine gun.
Just imagine what the brain of this youngster is going through. Stop to think that during  this process requiring nearly an hour complete, our subject took about 45 minutes to clear the bowels before entering the sales ring. Having thought this through one might ask how in the world could there be anything left for Joe. The fact is virtually all of them have something left. The reason they do is the body keeps producing these laxative fluids that are designed to clear the bowels.
One might ask why Mother Nature set up this procedure. Remember that survival of the fittest is a critical goal of Mother Nature for every species on earth. Also remember that horses were designed to graze on open grassy areas where they could see several hundred yards in every direction. One should also be mindful of the fact that the slowest individual was generally the one taken by invading predators that selected their herd as a food source.
Those of us who have been involved in horse racing will understand that it has been concluded that every pound added to a race horses back reduces their performance by 1-2 horse lengths in a mile. Racing officials globally ponder over 1, 2 or 3 differences in the handicap process whereby they attempt to get equality for betting purposes. If 1, 2 or 3 pounds can make a difference in the race outcome, then recognize the difference it would make for a horse to empty out 10-20 pounds of fecal material as they flee the charging predator.
As horses evolved, evidence suggests that the faster ones lived to reproduce while the slower ones were generally harvested before reproducing slow horses. While it’s true that we have been interrupting Mother Nature for 6000 years, earlier patterns are still in place. It seems that this particular phenomenon was well established for millions of years before we began to genetically manipulate Equus for our own desires. I am pleased to have the opportunity to complete this exercise. I should have written about this characteristic many years ago.
It is interesting to note that I have paid close attention to the frequency of defecation as I bring horses to the round pen for their first saddle and rider. Regardless of their mental appearance, if they defecate with unusual frequency I tend to regard them as hyper nervous individuals. This alters slightly my approach. I will require less and push less hard on those that repeatedly defecate. I have found this to be an effective way to deal with these individuals.
Certain individuals extremely sensitive to the perceived rights of animals in general may well take the position that if its stressful we shouldn’t be doing any of these things with horses in the first place. That is certainly a separate issue but I feel strongly that that would be a major mistake. Stress is a part of every biological entity and properly attended to can provide a strength instead of a weakness. The flight animal inherently is looking for a friend.
The horse is a herd animal. They do much better physiologically if they can exist in a tranquil environment with trusted individuals as life partners. Trust is the definitive word and it is with that goal in mind that I discovered and quantified Join-Up in the first place. In order to bring about a trusting partnership a certain level of stress must be experienced in order to justify an outcome of trust. We must realize that horses are extremely flighty animals and in order to bring them to a level of trust with the human they must pass through portals on their journey that can be stressful to a degree.
With my concepts in place I state categorically that there is no need for pain or violence to be any part of that process. If only I could convince the world to eliminate violence it would answer many of the difficult questions we are facing with what we consider to be remedial horses when in actual fact they are only doing what Mother Nature dictates. To eliminate all stress would abolish man’s interaction with horses and that would surely spell the demise of Equus the specie.


Are You Too Old for Horses?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

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.”


What is the best way to introduce a horse to a train?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

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.

horse and pigDon’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.