Join Date: May 2009
Location: Manitoba, Canada
I don't mind at all, it's still on the main topic, which is Joining Up with your horse in all it's methods. I don't think it's fair to put a time limit on JoinUp. Or a frequency for that matter. For example, I had a Welsh Pony/Appy/Mustang filly that learned to JoinUp as a long yearling. I did roughly 20 sessions with her varying from 2 hours to 30 minutes. This was late in her yearling year and all of her 2 year old year. Now as a 5 year old, the girl I gave her to does JoinUp about once every 3-4 weeks, just to make sure the understanding of their bond is clear. Yes, this pony is an adored pet, a protected friend, a loved companion and an obedient mount...but she's still a snotty little Welsh Pony! LOL! That being said, that's what's so lovable about her. She WILL test you every now and again, see if you'll believe her if she pretends to have forgotten what leading properly is...now for this pony it takes about 5-10 minutes to have her fully JoinUp. I'm not going to cut us off at the 10 minute mark if she's not ready, but that's her average time. Repitition is key though - can't expect to get faster at understanding something that's never practised. That being said, I haven't Joined Up with my mom's 12 year old mare in YEARS so if the need arose, it would probably take her a little longer to remember what it was about.
From what you've described with your school horses, I don't consider that JoinUp, although I do appreciate free/on-line lunging as a training tool as well. Each method has it's values. What you're doing is letting them blow off some steam before having to behave...even though they'll follow you after it, that doesn't mean that they see you as the "leader", doesn't mean they've made that connection. My yearlings were first to the gate, total pocket ponies BEFORE JoinUp just because they were attention hogs, loved being groomed, and just couldn't get enough of anything human. AFTER JoinUp they were the same curious attitude, but with some respect for personal space.
The goal behind JoinUp is not just to get the horse to follow you around. It's to establish some dominance in the relationship and assert yourself as the horse's leader, to earn their trust, and gain their respect. In doing this, the horse will want to stay with their chosen "new leader", thus following. The licking and chewing is a natural response that the horse is listening and being submissive - asking to JoinUp.
If anyone has anything to add to my description, please feel free...but that's how I've always understood JoinUp. There's obviously more to it, but it's late here and I work in the morning. Would love to see what other members can add.
Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly