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Question and Answer

August 26, 2009

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Monty demonstrates how to build trust in an unstarted horse by lifting his feet and acting unlike a predator (see Monty's answer below). Photo credit: Guillermo Umbria 2009

This Week's Question and Answer
Why do you pat down the horse so thoroughly? Is that some sort of desensitizing or is it like petting your dog? You said "I am going in to the vulnerable areas".

Monty's Answer: To answer this question, I would have much preferred that you refer to it as "rub down" the horse so thoroughly. It is my position that when you slap your hand against the horse's skin there is a tendency to elevate adrenalin and pulse rate. Remember that neither the horse's mother nor any of their friends had any anatomical appendages with which to pat them. The mother would rub him with her nose, with her tongue and even groom him with her teeth.

Rubbing the horse, I find, is far more effective in causing them to understand that I mean them no harm. It is my hope, during this process, to engender trust. After a good stroking I drop my eyes, close my fingers and walk away. No predator has ever done this before. It is my position that the horse logs this activity as proof that my intentions are non-predatory. I go into the vulnerable areas because if I accomplish this and then come out with no pain, their trust level increases dramatically. 

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Success Story

Above left to right: Pat Roberts, Shy Boy, Monty and Eduardo Moreira (from Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Doing Monty's Special Training Clinic was great, that's a fact. I wasn't sure though if I would ever manage to do a Join-Up by myself. I knew what to do, that's ok. But sometimes knowing what to do is just not enough... I knew though that I would give it a shot one day, and the day happened to be today.

I was at a friend's farm. He is the one who takes care of my horses, and has a pretty nice infra structure for horses in his farm, including a very nice round pen, very similar to the one I saw Monty working horses at Flag Is Up Farms. He was very excited about my trip to Monty, and invited me to go there today and show him the equipment I brought with me to Brazil, and also the techniques I have learned. I arrived there at 11 o'clock with my Dually halter and my set of long lines.

My friend looked at my tools and suggested that we get a 2 year old, unstarted paint horse that he owns, to work him on the round pen. The horse was a pretty strong horse, probably around 1100 pounds, brown and white, and the only thing he is used to, is to wear the halter. Actually not really. It was pretty hard to put a halter on him. That is as close as an untouched horse I can imagine I could get.

I walked the horse to the round pen, already schooling him with the Dually halter on the way there. A few steps back when he was about to walk in front of me, stopping when I would stop and standing still after having stopped. He learned pretty fast, and that helped me to gain confidence (both in him and mainly in myself).

We got to the round pen. [Click here to read on or cut and paste the URL:]
Watch Monty's FREE monthly video online

August Video: Some of you requested videos about life at Flag Is Up Farms. Here is a sneak peek at Willing Partners Program's Dox Starlight as he meets various animals around Monty's farm. To view this free online video, click here [] and follow the instructions on the screen. 


Connect with Monty on the Web
From Twitter: Great video!! RT @Monty_Roberts Anky and I on YouTube:  from MountainHorseUSA
Thanks for sharing! Great video :) from HopelesslyHorseless
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From Facebook: That is wonderful :)  Thanks to Monty, many animals are being treated so much better these days!! Leigh Lasley
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Where in the World Is Monty Next?! 
worldFor Monty's calendar and details about his upcoming tours, please click here 
September 19-20: Willing Partners Tour, Holte, Denmark
October 1: Willing Partners Tour, Greenlands EC Carlisle, UK
October 3: Willing Partners Tour, Gleneagles EC Auchertarder, Perthshire, UK
New Product: Succeed for Leisure Horses
NOW AVAILABLE! A special package of SUCCEED is now available especially for Leisure Horses. The all new "Monty Roberts" SUCCEED for Leisure Horses provides the same important nutrients in a special serving for horses whose daily care and feeding may be good, yet still leaves the horse susceptible to digestive imbalance. SUCCEED® Digestive Conditioning Program® is a unique, daily Functional Feed™ program that delivers specialized nutrients to support optimal digestive health.
Succeed pail
Now available online: at or in the USA at 888-U2-MONTY. Click here to read Monty's May Newsletter about equine nutrition. Click here to see an informational video.

Monty's Challenge
Every trainer works/interacts with the same principle of pressure. In your opinion is it better to leave a large time span between sessions (5-7 days? how much does a horse remember after a long time period?) or is it more beneficial to keep the interaction going on a daily basis until the horse understands the concept of pressure? In your professional opinion when is enough enough?

MRILC logoMRILC Classes: Click here [] to view  more upcoming course dates at the Monty Roberts International Learning Center (MRILC), based at Monty's farm in California. Click here to contact the Learning Center:
To all of our friends:
Thank you for your interest in my non-violent Join-Up methods. The positive feedback from the E-Newsletter readers has been very gratifying. You can help me continue to make the world a better place for horses and for people by sharing this information with your friends and colleagues. Forward this on and invite them to sign-up before next week to receive my free weekly email. Your friends can also sign-up at by entering their email address in the ASK MONTY sign-up box.
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Monty Roberts
Monty and Pat Roberts Inc.
In This Issue
This Week's Q&A
Video Streaming Monty
Monty Online
Where in the World Is Monty?
New Product
Monty's Challenge
Why It's Time for Scientists and Horsemen to Join-Up® ! 
by Kelly Marks and Dr. Veronica Fowler, Part 3 of a 4 part series

The Scientists Viewpoint - Is Horsemanship an Art or a Science?
by Dr. Veronica Fowler

Years of University education could not have prepared me for the day when my beloved mare could no longer be separated from her stable companion without the fear of injury to myself and her. Worry not I thought, I am a scientist, I have a distinction at MSc in Equine behaviour I CAN resolve this!  The trouble was ... I couldn't!  That is, not until I discovered the work of Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks
In my opinion, the most successful equine behaviourist would start with what current theory (and I say current as we must remember that scientific theory is ever evolving), tells them and then add experience and trial and error to suit individual horses needs.

Unfortunately, this type of behaviourist is extremely rare. You usually find there are one of two options 'university educated' with little or no practical experience, or 'practical' with little or no theoretical understanding. I had the theoretical understanding but not the practical experience, hence me needing help. It was at this point someone mentioned 'Intelligent Horsemanship' established by Kelly Marks and mentored by Monty Roberts. I didn't need to be a scientist to see that their techniques worked and I wanted to know more.

I enrolled myself on the horse psychology workshop taught by Kelly Marks and was pleasantly surprised to not only to be acting out both positive and negative reinforcement (something we never did at university) but also being taught the practical application of our current understanding of horse psychology. I was in awe, an organisation which not only understood the theory but also knew how to put it into practice; I decided I had to be part of this organisation!

That was three years ago and not only am I am now proudly part of Intelligent Horsemanship as the horse psychology project supervisor but I can also say that with their practical guidance (thank you IH Recommend Trainer Sarah Weston), my horse is doing wonderfully well. Kelly Marks and Intelligent Horsemanship are probably one of the few that recognise the need for the synergy between scientist and practical behaviourists and have pioneered this synergy by incorporating science into their studies and teachings in order to advance our understanding of equine behaviour. Students are taught not only the how (practical horsemanship) but also the why (science theory).

Recently under guidance of scientists such as myself, Intelligent Horsemanship have begun to scientifically validate their methods in order to understand how and why they work, something which has never been done before. For example, recently we have undertaken a study investigating the science of a bad loader and its resolution. This study was the first in a line of many which has combined scientists and practical behaviourists and it is clear from the results what we can learn by such proactive relationships.

As scientists we all know the theory of our chosen subject area but do we really know how to effectively put this theory into practice? This is a question which has troubled me for a number of years. It is of my belief that every scientist instead of reaching for their text book companion which has helped them through university, should in fact be reaching for the nearest practical horseman in order to further their understanding. Theories are ever evolving and just because they are considered as 'fact' does not necessarily mean that they won't change. Horses are not computers or phones or even TVs that when they go wrong you can reach for the convenient 'trouble shooting page' and work your way through a standard set of instructions to resolve the problem. They are living animals and have 'minds of their own'.

For every single behavioural problem there are hundreds of possible reasons for the behaviour and perhaps hundreds of possible solutions. Who is going to get to the solution first, those that use theory or those that use practical experience? I would put my money on the practical horseman any day. Through my own experiences theoretical knowledge can never prepare you for the body language and timing required to positively communicate with a horse, only experience can provide you with this. Can you then imagine the progress we could make if scientists and practical horsemen worked together?

Continued in this column next week. For More Information on Monty's upcoming tour promoted by Intelligent Horsemanship in October, go to
or ring +44 01488 71300
Editor's Note: Join-Up Principles are being used in the Educational, Penal, Military and Therapeutic disciplines. If you have a story to share, please email:


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Monty overlooks roundpen
Test Yourself!
I want all of my students to learn to be better trainers than me! Test yourself each week as I challenge you to answer the question under 'Monty's Challenge'. I mean this. Sit down and write an answer. Don't wait for my answer next week. If you have been reading my Weekly Questions and Answers for the last six months, you should be in a position to do this. Send your answer to my team at:
Why should you bother? Because it will help you focus. There is probably a comparable question in your life that needs answering - or will be. If you can gain insight into how to go about answering a practical question that is loosely related to your problem, this exercise will help you answer your nagging question. Then read my answer. Then read my other answers at this link: Ask Monty. The closest answer to mine each week will be awarded a DVD but, more importantly, you will learn! That's good for you! That's good for horses!
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