Monday, 16 November 2015

More About Hooking On/Joining Up

During the last several months I have not done much writing but I have spent a lot of time watching DVDs about horsemanship.  One of the topics I was interested in was Join Up.

I watched a DVD program by Monty Roberts, who is probably the originator of the term Join Up and another by Bryan Neubert, called Wild Horse Handling.

The Monty Roberts program is an excellent demonstration with a couple of different horses.  He thoroughly explains and shows the process he follows, pointing out the key responses of the horse.  I have read a number of articles about Monty`s method and have heard a number of other horseman describe it.  There is nothing like seeing Monty do this and explain it in his own words.  The beauty of DVD`s is that you can watch it again and again to see the subtle changes in the horse and observe the details of the horseman's timing and techniques.

The Bryan Neubert program is not exactly about hooking on.  It is a 2 hour DVD in which he starts a wild mustang.  It is a really pure example of natural horse behavior and the skills of an experienced horseman.  This is a program that I would highly recommend to anyone who really wants to observe horse behavior and see the results of using methods that connect to the nature of the horse to achieve communication leading to desired responses and behavior.  I have spent countless hours watching this program and I learn something new every time.  A key part of the process is getting the horse to hook on to the human.

For both of these programs it is very helpful if you have a foundation in understanding horse behaviour as explained by Dr. Robert Miller in his program,  Understanding Horses.  This is my  main reference for everything in establishing a bond with a horse.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

More About To Come

I apologize to those of you who have followed this blog. 

My father once told me don`t get old and don`t get sick.  Unfortunately over the last couple of years both have caught up to me.  Age has slowed me down but I have acquired a rare neuro muscular disease which has made it almost impossible to walk and so I have been neglecting other things like this publication.  I have however been studying more horse programs and will be sharing my views with you very soon. 

Stay tuned.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Hooking On / Joining Up – Part Three and Beyond

Every time you go to the paddock to be with your horse you need to be consistent in your attitude, expression and methods.  As you progress the process will become more and more subtle but you must never forget the steps you are going through.

Once your horse is caught you will probably proceed to groundwork and then to in saddle exercises.  Personally I prefer ground exercises that translate to the in saddle work.  Here again there are a great number of instructional DVD`s by experienced horsemen for ground work programs.  You should examine as many of these as you can, to find the one that is the best fit for you.

The objective of this phase of the process is to establish clear communications between the human and the horse.  The length of time that this takes is dependent on the experience level of the human and the horse.  For someone embarking on this path for the first time you should be prepared to spend several months before you get to a level of trust, confidence and understanding at which a firm bond begins to form between human and horse.  The path to a true partnership really never ends.  It must always be in your mind with a view to continuing to improve the strength of the bond. 

How do you know when there is a bond developing between you and your horse?  The signals will come from the horse.

  • ·       The horse will meet you at the gate.
  • ·       The horse approaches you with ears forward and head lowered.
  • ·       The horse will offer to do things for you, picking up a glove you dropped, putting his foot on a ball, bowing, holding the lead rope in his mouth, etc.
  • ·       When the horse sees you near the paddock he/she whinnies at you.
  • ·       When you approach your horse when he/she is lying down they stay and allow you to approach and stroke them.
  • ·       The horse will want you to carress and rub their head and ears.
  • ·       When you are with your horse he/she will be fully relaxed.

The horse begins to see you as a part of the herd, in particular a leader of the herd.  This is a position of trust which you must learn to accept and honor.  Maintaining this relationship with your horse never ends and the rewards just keep growing for both of you.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Hooking On - Part 2

There is one important thing to consider about the human and and the horse when first making contact.  Is the horse and/or the human green or experienced?

A green human is not familiar with horses in general and/or this horse in particular.  The same is true for the horse.   As the experience level increases the time required to obtain desired results will shorten but the steps to get to the result are always there.

One of the most important things for the human is to be self aware.  You must be fully in touch with your emotions and and your physical expression.  Horses are masters at reading body language and if you think you can fool them you are going to learn very quickly that you are wrong.

On entering the paddock the first objective is to get the horses attention.  This is usually quite easy because horses are extremely observant.

The next objective is to get the horse to focus on you through movement, expression and focus.  At first (green stage) this may be quite exaggerated and very obvious to an observer.  With  experience it becomes very subtle and imperceptible to a casual observer.  The exaggerated stage is like shouting at a horse, and that is exactly how they perceive it.

The next step is to get the horse to face you and then to move towards you.  Again  initially (the green phase) this will take time and the movement may be only a small step.  That small step must be recognized and rewarded by release of pressure.  The recognition of the smallest try by the horse is one of the hardest things to master, but it is critical to your success.   Eventually the horse will follow the human and finally allow the human to get close enough to have physical contact.  This contact should be the horse’s idea and will usually be a nose touch to the back of the hand.  Immediate reward by looking away and moving away is important at this stage.  Don`t get impatient and try to get more RIGHT NOW!  This event is usually called hooking on and can be achieved by experienced horsemen within a few minutes (30).  There are many excellent DVD`s produced by professional horsemen who demonstrate this process in great detail.   Another great source of information is the Road to the Horse event.  The DVD`s from this event, especially the first day of the competition will give you examples of different horses and different techniques.  I highly recommend these learning resources to both green and experienced horse people.

The next objective is to have the horse stay with you while you put a halter him.  When you accomplish this you have only reached the first threshold of hooking on.