Monty Roberts is known for his non-violent approach to working with horses. At the core of his technique is the ability to communicate with the horse he is working with, in their own language.
Monty developed his own unique way of initiating conversation with his horses and establishing a relationship of trust and respect, this he has termed the Join-Up technique.
One of the most well known techniques that Monty teaches is the basic join-up. This is the process by which communication is established and trust built between a horse and the rider / owner or trainer. Monty has demonstrated this technique throughout the world with hundreds of horses.
Join up works on the same principle that wild horses use to discipline younger horses, by chasing them away until they submit to the leadership structure. Monty knows that this process results in the horse being more comfortable and this is visible through the horse dropping the head, licking and chewing and moving in towards him naturally.
This short video is from Monty Roberts YouTube collection and demonstrates very simply how the technique works. The join up is used as a way to establish trust and from there other tasks can be introduced. In this video a 4 year old horse is introduced to her first saddle and rider in 30 minutes.
Monty emphasises that this process is done in collaboration with the horse and ultimately it is up to the horse to do the tasks.
One of the main pieces of equipment that Monty uses is his own invention, a dually halter. This halter was developed as a teaching aid for horses, so that they can respond directly to the pressure applied through the elasticated noseband.
The halter, like most of Monty’s horsemanship techniques, reinforces good behaviour by allowing the trainer to apply and release slight pressure. This is useful when teaching horses to stand still or not to be scared of new objects. The halter is higher up than a normal halter so it doesn’t interfere with breathing and the pressure is applied lightly so the horse is clear about whether you are saying yes or no to his behaviour.
Reins can be attached to the rings on the halter or they can be used for groundwork by attaching a lead rope for work such as leading and loading. Monty uses longer lead ropes than many traditional European horse owners would use, since he maintains that there is less control with a shorter rope.
This is a point that Kelly Marks supports, especially she says for women who have less upper body strength and can benefit from the added leverage of a longer rope. (It’s all about physics and maths really)
There are a couple of points to note about the Dually halter,
- Firstly it isn’t suitable to turn a horse out into a field wearing this, the rings can get caught and the noseband if caught incorrectly can tighten and cause harm to the horse’s face.
- Secondly if you are using it to tie up a horse in a horse box or trailer, make sure that the rings cannot be caught on anything, and if needed loosen the noseband so that the horse can chew hay properly during the journey.
The Dually Halter can be purchased through Amazon at this link along with a free DVD that explains how to use it Monty Roberts Official Dually Training Halter MEDIUM/COB (with FREE DVD)
There are also other sizes available.
Further Reading on Monty and Natural Horsemanship
Here are some other articles on the site connected to this theme