The last video that shows "The Dance" seems just like join up to me. You speak body language and give the horse a chance to understand in a non threatening manner and set yourself as the leader. We all know that ground work translates directly to their backs. If a horse trusts and understands you on the ground your leaps ahead when getting on their backs.
I am just not personally a fan of the whole bitless trend. I am all for the promotion of kind and understanding training but I think what he does as basic ground work. Anything done with repetition can be trained so the bridleless part doesn't have much shock and awe for me.
Cecillia this and 'join up' are not even similar.
A little history if I may. The Picadero is literally 'a small room' and it square which is very important. It seems that the round pen came from the Picadero when horses were broken on a large scale and those lacking in the necessary skills to do it properly thought it would save time if there were no corners for the horse to escape to.
It is important that it is square for several reasons. Firstly it means the horse does not track a circle. If you look at the tracks its actually more like an oval racetrack. This means that the horse straightens and flexes, straightens and flexes, so it improves his suppling at each corner.
Secondly the horse is not just flung to the outside with centrifugal force and learns to correct his balance.
No in terms of the differences with join up. Join Up in my humble opinion has little to do with communication. Monty talks about representing a mare sending out a naughty colt but then goes on to talk of equus and howhe believes the outheld hand represents a predators claw etc. This latter is actually the truth.
When you watch horses sent out in the round pen, they are fleeing, except they cannot escape. They are on the forehand, heads usually thrown and bodies even bent to the outside as they want to escape, but they cannot. Aggressive gestures are made to send them out there until the horse gives up.
It doesnt want to communicate, it just wants to escape. If it can no longer escape then it has no choice but to attack or surrender. fortunately for us most horses choose surrender. This is why it doesn't work with truly dominant horses (of which contrary to many peoples belief based on their own experiences there are very few). When you get a horse that wont surrender then you have trouble. Even Chris Irwin admits this in his book Dealing with Your Dark Horse. He recollects the time he and a mare at a show ended up in physical charges and beating in the round pen because she would not submit.
Yes I have seen a mare exclude a gelding from a herd. However that is very different. Firstly the excluded horse wants to come back in. Secondly it can leave and escape if it wants to. Thirdly it is not constantly driven. The only driving comes if it tries to perhaps go around to another side of the herd and get in there. Fourthly it is being sent by a mare and not being chased by a predator.
Join up is not the best start with a horse, however its not the end of the world. What really concerns me with join up is when its done almost routinely, like a dominance top-up. I see it time and again. The horse stops following people so they take it in the round pen. Meantime any relationship you have established is now being eroded because the horse has no concept of why this is being done. This unpredictable human who just decides to suddenly chase me around a pen?
Finally there is little communication development. Its purely dominance. I scare you and make you expend energy. Its uncomfortable isn't it? Ok well now you can come and follow me - thats more attractive to you than running around isnt it? That doesnt open communication.
In the picadero the idea is not to chase the horse. It is not to get them to ask to come in. It is to establish the beginnings of communication. To teach the horse to follow your changes in posture and movements of weight, and mimic these with his body. Also you have to work with what the horse offers.
Any establishing of dominance (except for a genuinely attacking horse) is actually done via leading exercises.
Finally these things are not based on repetition in the way that negative reinforcement training requires. In general circles riding bridless is considered fairly advanced. With KFH it comes in very early because its about weight cues as the basis of advanced riding exercises.
Totally agree with you about the groundwork moving you streets ahead when you transition to ridden. Wish more people took the time.