joining up
 
 

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joining up

This is a discussion on joining up within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
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    03-13-2012, 05:43 PM
  #1
Foal
joining up

This is a new concept to me and have recently done a lot of research on it. I have watched a lot of videos and it looks so easy, that was until I tried it. Does anybody have any stories about how this doesn't work? Did the horse finally respond? How long did it take? What problems were you having? What did you change? Did anybody just give up? How important is joining up? Does anybody believe it's all hogwash?

I have a ton more questions, but will wait to see if anybody responds.
     
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    03-13-2012, 06:34 PM
  #2
Showing
Some horses just won't "join up". It's not a big deal. It's more important to build a trusting relationship than worry about him following you around.
     
    03-13-2012, 06:59 PM
  #3
Foal
What kinds of horses won't join up? Is it a leader issue? Is it a herd status thing, head hancho won't do it no way!? Is it a trust issue? My horse comes to me when I have food and I can walk up to him just fine but not when I have a halter, but in the joining up game he totally failed. LOL
     
    03-13-2012, 06:59 PM
  #4
Weanling
I agree that joining up isn't as important as the relationship you build beyond that.

I've used join up type methods a number of times, usually with horses that either haven't been handled at all or were hard to catch, and yes, getting a horse to join up is harder than the trainers make it look in their videos. Sometimes it takes 2-3 sessions before the horse finally decides to really trust the person doing the join up.

All of the horses I've done this with did learn to follow me, but only about half of the horses followed and begin looking to me as leader and protector. These horses, I could do anything I wanted with once they learned to follow. The other half I could get to follow, but they wouldn't trust me enough to let me touch them. With those horses I couldn't start a real relationship until I had a halter on them. Oddly, the horses that had been handled before were LESS likely to relax and let me pet and halter them.

I think as a horseman it is good to have knowledge of how to join up with a horse, because there are times it is a very useful skill, but it does not replace other ground work.
     
    03-13-2012, 07:22 PM
  #5
Weanling
I think everything you mentioned plays a part in join up, but it comes down to trust and leadership. If a horse doesn't see you as it's leader it WILL NOT join up with you. Whereas some horses are very willing to let you be the leader, but still not trust you.

That paragraph probably didn't clear anything up for you. Let me give you a couple examples.

Leadership Issue:
My Mini stallion was very pushy and dominant towards me. I didn't know what I was doing when I got him and I taught him all sorts of bad habits he didn't need to know. I had successfully done join up with two of my neighbour's horses, so I tried it on my stud. He did not see me as a good leader so it took him several days to finally give in and be submissive enough to follow me. No problems haltering or touching because he saw me as not a threat, I just gained a lot of his respect. I would use different methods now, but I thought join up magic then.

Trust Issue:
My friend bought a horse that was a fantastic beginner's riding horse, with just one flaw; he was really hard to catch. He was in his late teens, most of his life he had been roped any time someone wanted to use him. He took several lessons before he would follow, and when he followed he always stayed arm's length away. It took weeks before he would let me touch him, then it took weeks more before he would let me touch him if I had a rope or halter in my hands. Clearly he was a victim of abuse, and it took him a very long time to get over it and join up mentally as well as physically. If I were presented a horse with a similar history today I would still use join up(though I'd do a better job of it now).
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    03-13-2012, 07:58 PM
  #6
Foal
I don't know Jesse's past, I have had him almost a year, he will be 15 in June. He lets me walk up to him almost anywhere, but 3/4's of the time he turns away from me. I almost always have to approach his rear flank, that's his comfort. It would be nice to have him look at me and be happy to see me. I tried the looking down thing, the sidestepping thing, etc. It always seems like he is ready to bolt. I was hoping that joining up would help. When I do get up to him, he puts his head down in my chest, deep sigh, ready for a pet. When I tried what John Lyon's did, Jesse ran around the arena for 2 hours before he held my gaze. I have some more tricks to try as I only tried it the one time, but it broke my heart to see him breathing so hard. When he finally did look at me, I praised him and held my ground not daring to move toward him giving him a break. One step sent him off again. He is more worried about everything around him than looking at me. He never once turned his body towards me, never took a step in my direction. He is very spooky on the trail and I'm too old to deal with a spooky horse. I was hoping joining up would help build trust. Perhaps I did it wrong and I'm anxious to try again tomorrow.
     
    03-13-2012, 08:21 PM
  #7
Super Moderator
Are you doing this in a round pen?
The idea with join up is that your horse will stop looking outward for somehting to attache to, and look to you for that. So, it's not just a matter of running him ragged, in my opinion. You have to interrupt him when his thoughts go outward.
That can be done by a variety of way; making him run faster, turning him the other direction, making a loud noise , smacking the whip on the ground, raising the flag, dancingt around like a lunatic, what EVER makes your horse stop looking outward. He may not choose to look at you, though. So you let him look for something to mentall hook his attention onto. If he chooses something outside, you quickly interrupt that connection. The instant it's broken, do nothing. Wait for you horse to search for the right answer. Let him choose. If he chooses outward, interrupt and allow him another chance to choose. If he chooses you, then stand quietly, maybe turn a bit sideways or back up a bit and "invite" him to come closer. If he doesn't, but he just stands there, you walk up and pet him briefly, then leave. If he then follows you, that is join up.

If he doesn't, then wait for him to put his attention away from you, then intterrupt it and wait and see if he looks at you. Every time he chooses YOU over the grass, the outter pen, the sky , the other horses, the wind , you-name-it, YOu give him peace. Everytime he leaves you and chooses something else, you make that a "noisy" place to be. If he's not sure, and he appears to be thinking or "searching" for the right place to put his attention, then you wait and see if he wont' choose you. If not, then interrupt.
When you get him to follow you a bit, quit for the day. You can work on better following in subsequent days.
     
    03-13-2012, 08:54 PM
  #8
Foal
LOL yes, I did all this. My first goal was to get him to walk towards me, then it changed to just allowing me to walk up to him with the halter in my hand. This was after two hours of trying all you mentioned. As I said, I have some more info to try tomorrow. The funny thing about Jesse is that I think he's never been working with, just gotten and ridden. I don't think anybody tried to bond or play with him. I think I am his 7th owner and I plan to be his last. So I really think he has no idea what I want, but tomorrow is another day and I won't give up. He stands his ground and I wonder if that has to do with dominance or mistrust. It's hard to tell. He walks up to me fine when I go out there to feed twice a day. That's before I get the hay, I always go to say hi to him first since he is always waiting with his head hung over the fence nickering. That's a good sign IMO!
     
    03-13-2012, 11:52 PM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyandjesse    
I don't know Jesse's past, I have had him almost a year, he will be 15 in June. He lets me walk up to him almost anywhere, but 3/4's of the time he turns away from me. I almost always have to approach his rear flank, that's his comfort. It would be nice to have him look at me and be happy to see me. I tried the looking down thing, the sidestepping thing, etc. It always seems like he is ready to bolt. I was hoping that joining up would help. When I do get up to him, he puts his head down in my chest, deep sigh, ready for a pet. When I tried what John Lyon's did, Jesse ran around the arena for 2 hours before he held my gaze. I have some more tricks to try as I only tried it the one time, but it broke my heart to see him breathing so hard. When he finally did look at me, I praised him and held my ground not daring to move toward him giving him a break. One step sent him off again. He is more worried about everything around him than looking at me. He never once turned his body towards me, never took a step in my direction. He is very spooky on the trail and I'm too old to deal with a spooky horse. I was hoping joining up would help build trust. Perhaps I did it wrong and I'm anxious to try again tomorrow.
What you describe here is why I don't do join up very often any more. Of the 15+ horses I have used this method with,(I learned the John Lyons way too) looking back, only 3 of them do I think it really was the best training option.

A word of caution, a horse can learn to run a way from you rather than join up. I have made this mistake before, a Mini was given to me because he was hard to catch, and I don't know if it was something I did wrong, or if this just wasn't a good method for this horse, but after 2-3 sessions he started bolting around the pen like crazy any time he laid eyes on me. He did eventually join up but I could have skipped a lot of trouble if I had chosen a different approach.

Please take this for whatever you think it's worth, I don't want to come off as a know-it-all and I'm not the trainer John Lyons is, but since you can catch your horse I would use a different method than join up.

To be specific, I'd use the lead rope to teach a cue to teach my horse to yield his hip and face you. Start by driving his hip away from you using the halter to bring his head around to you, slowly try to use the halter less and less until you can get him to face you without using the lead at all maybe even hanging it over his neck, he will eventually respond to this cue any time you want to catch him. I would probably also "cheat" and give him a treat any time he faced up to me really nicely with very little pressure on the lead.

This method might take a little longer, but there is much less chance of error.
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    03-14-2012, 12:16 AM
  #10
Weanling
I actually got to learn how to do a join-up first hand from Monty Roberts - and it is no where near as easy as it looks. If, as the human, you make the slightest, and I do mean slightest, wrong body posturing, all your work goes out the window in a matter of seconds.

Joining up has very little to do with making the horse tired. (When Monty Roberts joined-up with my horse, my horse never went faster than a workign trot.) It has to do with forcing the horse to pay attention to you and ony to you. I believe it is a great tool, but it is just that, a tool. If it does not help you, don't use it.

I really like join-up and use it on most of the hoses I work with, but not all of them.

After three sessions my daughter got a mediocre join-up from her filly after 90 minutes of work last week. I snuck in two days later and got a decent join-up three days later. Four days after that and it litterly takes two or three minutes to get join-up from the filly who will now do anything for her person. This is a semi-wild 2 1/2 year old. What can now be done with her has now tripled. She has lost almost all fear and has gained enough trust that she has stopped fighting for domanice with people.

So, do I think it works? Yes. Without a doubt.

Do I think that if done incorrectly it does more harm than good? YES.

Join-up only works if you are 100% cued into the really really subtle cues that both the horse and you the human are doing. It is really hard.
     

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