Minimum age for join-up
I was wondering what in your opinions is the minimum age that you can do join-up with a horse. Can you do it with a six-month old? Obviously considering said colt has been fully weaned and has ceased calling for mom.
Youngest horse I have done it with was two weeks old. We did it with mama in the round pen with us... she never did join up, but baby did within just a few minutes.
Six months should be just fine.
Pardon my posting on both of your threads, but I just thought I'd give you my two cents if you're interested.
Besides the three month old that I already mentioned, I also have a coming four year old mare who I took charge of as 7-8 month old (can't quite remember.) She was completely unhandled and agressive. At the time I was naive and knew practically nothing about horses, but I'd heard about join up. Tossed her in a pen and chased her around, waiting for her to give in. Fourty minutes later she was shaking from exaustion but still hadn't joined up with me. I gave up and she promptly laid down and stayed down for almost thirty minutes. A year later when I was first joining this forum, I mentioned the incident. Boy was I chewed out! The reason for this is that join up requires you to make a horse move at a canter or gallop for an extended period of time. You're basically lunging the horse until it's tired enough to listen to you and give you the time of day. And when you're doing this, you're putting extreme pressure on their joints, ligaments, and bones. This can be tolerated by an adult horse irregularely, but for young growing horses with soft bones, it can be a very bad thing.
There is a large chance that a young horse, who is uncoordinated and no developed- can pull a tendon, ligament, or even break a bone. And so for that reason it is not generally recommended for you to join up with a young horse.
That said, IMO the youngest that a horse should be joined up with is probably about mid to late three, or even better, four.
You might ask who taught me how to join up a horse - and have every right to ask that question. You don't know me from a whole in the wall. I had Monty Roberts teach me in person - with my horse, who never once cantered while being asked to join up by Monty Roberts in front of a thousand people. He trotted and walked for about ten mintues before joining up with Monty Roberts.
Monty Roberts loved it because he rarely had a demo horse who would work in front of that big of a crowd with a stranger (him) and let Monty show that it is NOT all about the speed, just the posturing and body language. It is so much easier to work a join up at a trot than a canter - I do it all the time.
The filly I mentioned above cantered a bit, but mostly she just pranced about. Being so young, she had no problem accepting that I was dominate. She was a true joy to train to saddle several years later because never in her life did she ever think that humans were to be challanged.
Do most horses canter during join up? Yes. Should you canter a young horse for long periods of time in a circle? No. Done under ideal conditions, there is no reason for a horse to do more than an easy trot - by no means are you chasing them down into exhaustion.
Can you get a join up by chasing them into exhaustion? Yes. In fact, just came from a session from heck with a stubborn filly who took a bit over an hour, half of which was spent at a canter, the other half at a trot before she would join up. She was tired, yes, but exhausted? No. Stubborn? Heck yes.
She was walked for ten minutes after join up then turned out to roll. After her roll she took off to make a couple laps about the arena at a gallop before comign back to her person to be caught. She was by no means exhausted.
I'm done short sessions of round penning since my foal was a weanling. Mainly trying to earn respect and work on getting him to listen to me.
It was only a few months ago that I really discovered how join-up seems to work. It did not take cantering him to exhaustion. He does canter on his own, but I do not try to make him canter when I round pen. I work on walking and trotting and if he canters so be it, but because of his growth plates I try not to ask him to canter. The only time I make him canter is if he has been blatantly disrespectful.
Anyway, after a good session of working mainly at the trot, he decided that was too much work and really started looking for reasons to quit. You watch for them to turn the inside ear/eye your direction. He already knew about stopping and changing direction in an inside circle, so instead of doing a complete change of direction, I would ask him to disengage his hindquarters and just stop facing me. This was all done at liberty. Then I would either allow him to approach me or I would approach him and we would have a few moments of "quiet time" together and he could catch is breath and rest. From there, it is only a matter of you walking away and him wanting to follow because he rests when he's with you and he doesn't want to be sent out to work again away from you. So I realized he would shadow me everywhere in the round pen. I would even try to make sharp turns and "loose" him and he pretty faithfully follows.
If he did get distracted I would smooch and pop my whip and ask him to start round penning again. It only takes a couple times of that for them to learn that it is easier to follow you.
So that is how I do join-up with my 19 month old gelding.
I find it ironic that he follows me at liberty in the round pen with no rope connecting us but put a halter/lead rope on him and he's a spoiled brat.
I did short sessions with my mare as a 2 year old. We already had a good connection so she caught on to what I wanted very quickly. Every once in awhile I'll try to do join-up with her and as soon as I push her out, she comes right back in like "Mooooommmm...I got this." LoL (Totally worth the effort of leading her to the pen) ;-)
My trainer always does round pen work when she gets a new horse. She gets them between 2 and whatever for saddle training.
I personally, would not do join-up with anything under 2. Maybe, and I stress maybe, if I had a completely untouched yearling would I do some easy work with them, but I wouldn't be driving them around the pen for long periods of time.
I do realize that a horse should not be worked into exaustion to make a horse so tired that it just gives up, and that was where I was calling myeslf out in the below post. It is not in any form correct or the easiest way to do things for you or the horse.
However, this seems to be the way that most people do it, and thus- I generally discourage join up all together unless you are working with a professional. Already knowing OP's position, I feel that is best for her to not join up with the specific colt that she is working with because he is not disrespectful, he is fearful. And he must get over his fear for people before I think that it is safe for him to be joined up with because he sounds like the sort of horse that is all reaction and no thought process yet. I see him very easily trying to scale the roundpen or crashing into it, due to his fear.
When I attempted to join up with my mare back those few years ago, I did not continue to exhaust her until she gave in to me- she had been going at a continuous canter without any sign of slowing to a trot for me for almost an hour, and that was without me pressuring her to move at all. She was simply not going to give in to me, because she hated people. And for good reason, as she had a less than stellar introduction to humans, starting with a cruel man who used a sketchy-at-best method incorrectly to try dominating her. I saw how tired she was and decided against continuing, and I'm glad that I did. I don't want to know the sort of damage that I could of done to her bones and her mental state if I had continued on as I had, with no real understanding of Join up or body language.
OP, I guess what I'm saying is that although a lot of people will tell you to go ahead and join up with the colt, my personal opinion is that you should wait and get a good foundation with this colt's mother and then with him. Being such a young one, you will with patience be able to effectively move him from the instinctive side of his brain to the side that processes thoughts- and once you have done this, you can begin to bond with him.
I could be wrong. I'm not extremely well versed in the area of Natural Horsemanship and I admit it because I am not a NH trainer or even a NH student. I am not against Natural horsemanship and I actually do use some of their methods combined with others that I have learned from more traditional trainers. But to me, unless you are well trained in the ways of NH or have someone to guide you, it is not a good idea to attempt to join up with this young horse.
Endiku - Yes, join up is NOT as easy as it looks. If it is not done correctly, it makes things so much worse than before it is like night and in the middle of a horrible storm. A person can easily teach a horse the they are dominate, fear, and cause injury.
OH - and I still am sorry that you got unhappy responces. There are ways to explian how to do something to a novice and still be nice about it.
Considering that is exactly what the average person is trying to prevent, the average person usually does more harm than good.
I don't have any knowledge about the horse or the person involved in this. Only the concept that if I were given a weanling, would I do a join up with it? The answer to that question to that is yes. Would there be any danger of my causing harm while doing it? No.
So, perhaps this explains my stance a bit... thank you for explaining yours.:hug:
hi guys and gals, thanks for all the opinions. Just a bit of background for those who don't neccesarily follow my "problems taming a colt" thread. Said colt is at the moment still a three month old and yes, more fearfull than anything else. his name is Gypsy and he really seems to be an intelligent little baby. Most of his fears I suspect comes unfortunately from mom. Mom is a nice looking Bay mare of around 8 years old. She was bought by one of my dad's workers from another farm worker on a different farm along with her companion gelding for cart horses. After more than a year of the now owner not paying the money he loaned to buy the horses, my Dad reposssed them and she became mine. Dad knows nothing about horses and is in fact incresingly allergic to them, so hence they are mine. Not that I'm complaining, I love horses. Trapnet (the mare) face bears the sdars of probably close to a lifetime of abuse. She has a piece of her upper lip missing, probably from a twitch and bears the scars of a wire halter. So I will accept that she probably has good enough reasons not to trust the human race.
I had wonderfull plans of taming the colt in the first weeks of life, but it is difficult if momma doesn't want to be caught and does not set a good example. Unlike his best friend and adopted sister Sassy, born a week before him. Her mom I raised from birth and she loves me so much she gets jealous when Sassy gets too much attention in her opinion. She will simply push herself between us, and hog all the attention.
I have done join-up or at tleast some version of it before with Storm, Sassy's mom's half brother (same mother). He was at the time a two year old who refused to be caught, would even rear up in his stable if you tried. Some NH Guru came and gave a clinic near me and I attented. He showed us what resembles the CA type join-up, where you get them to the point where they will let you approach and put a halter on him, but he doesn't neccesarily "join up" in the sense of following you all around the round pen like an overgrown puppy dog. It worked a treat for Ngwe, sorted out the haltering issue. I try and educate myself thru watching dvd's by mainly CA, but also RE Smith and Frank Bell. Trainers around here are virtually non-existent and those who train horses for a living I swore will never see any horse of mine again. So thus all the questions. I was involved in horses, mainly riding for pleasure for only two years before we moved to the farm and Grandpa gave me 15 horses for a wellcome present. Three of those were broke to ride. I'm not sorry he did it, it's been a steep learning curve but I still love every min of it.
My opinion. Take it or not, as it helps or not. :) Hopefully it will help at least a bit.
If the mare is this traumatized, you are not likely to do much with the foal until he is weaned. I wouldn't even try. The less human interaction, the less she can teach him about how horrible people are.
While you are waiting for him to be old enough to wean away from her, go to every NH clinic you can get to. When the big expos come around, and they do, call them and ask if they need demo horses - they always do. You dont' want some no name person who calls themselves a trainer to touch your horse (EVER in my opinion), but the big names need horses too.
By doing this, I had Monty Roberts teach my then two year old colt to join up, and three years later Clinton Anderson taught him to load in a two horse trailer. He was supposed to be ridden by John Lyons, but we lost our ride to the expo at the last minute.
I would suggest that you see about getting your colt in as a demo horse.
On a different note - for a true join up you need several things from the horse
- airplane ears
- coming in from the rail
- lowering of the head, sometimes to the point thier noses will scrap the ground
- licking and chewing
If you are not getting these things, you are not getting a join up, just an 'ok, can we be done now?' This only comes with proper dominace/submission give and take. If you are not 100% sure you can do it right, don't do it at all.
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