Never would have believed it.....
...until i saw it done....then i tried it....and SUCCEEDED!!!!!!!!
What am I talking about?
Well, here's the story....
A few months ago, my girlfriend and i were discussing horses, and getting one for me, as her 2 were either lame, or too green for me to ride.
So, we started searching. And praying.
With our limited budget, we knew we had to be a combination of lucky, fortunate, and blessed, to find the perfect horse for me to own and ride.
My experience is very limited, but my drive to succeed is huge.
So, i needed a horse that was both very well trained, and very patient with a new rider, not to mention huge.
Boy, did we get the bonus plan!
We got Makana about 3 weeks ago. We found her locally, from a wonderful woman who was thinning her stable a little, and wanted to find great homes for her babies. Homes which would love and care for these horses as she would herself, or better.
When we brought her home, it was a bear to get her out of the trailer. Yeah, she doesnt like to back out of trailers.
Ever try to change your clothes in a subcompact car? Yeah, that's about how it was trying to turn a 16.2 hand, 1400# horse AROUND in a 3 horse slant! What a circus!
Well, we gave her a week to acclimate to her new surroundings and family, then saddled her up to toot around the yard a bit.
She was a little froggy, as it had been a while since she'd been ridden, but not obnoxiously so, which was what we expected.
How does this tie in with Natural Horsemanship? Read on....
Today, we took a little walk around the block so to speak, me on Makana, honey on Sam.
Both did well, but Makana was a bit squirrely still. Yes, i have LOUD hands still, and i'm still learning how to communicate with her effectively, but we're coming along nicely.
We went back to the round pen for a little schooling on basics of posture and communication. My girlfriend is also my trainer. If she wasnt so darn talented with horses, i would never have considered such a thing, but i cant argue the results she gets with her horses.
So, we're in the round pen, and Makana is being squirrely again.
So, she hops into the saddle, and gives her a tune up on western style, giving her some easy wins so we can end on a positive note for the day.
It merits mention here that we have been discussing Monty Roberts all week, pros and cons, and watching his videos on youtube, then talking about them.
We wrap up the round pen session, and the moment strikes me to do a join up.
Remembering Monty's video, and how he positions himself, the body language of the horse, and feeling like it's the RIGHT time for doing a join up, we get started.
Walk her around to the right....turn her...walk her to the left....turn her....trot her to the right....turn her....trot to the left....turn her.....head lowers....starts licking her lips....walk to the right.....turn her....whoa her......turn my body.....lower my head....looking away....i wait patiently......watching her from the corner of my eye.....she's standing....thinking about it.....i look away.....i feel her warm breath and soft nose on my hand......i stroke her head...almost in tears i'm so happy....i test the bond by turning gaway and walking....she ponders a moment....she joins me....i stroke her head and give her praise....
It's one thing to see a join up in a video.
Its another to watch someone else do it in person.
It's a LIFE CHANGING experience when YOU do it yourself, and your horse chooses to come join up with YOU.
It creates a bond between you and your horse that is unexplainable.
Today I woke up a man who owns a horse, and is learning how to be a horseman.
Tonight, i will go to sleep knowing that I am a horseman in training, with an amazing teacher, mentor, and that I have the most wonderful partner in my journey a man could ask for. My Makana.
I have never had success with the join up method, until i met my Jazz.
When i first laid eyes on her, she was pathetic. She had a year old filly still trying to nurse off of her (and she is only 4 years old), she was a bag of bones, and was matted and muddy and nasty. But when these boys that owned her chased her around the corner and one hopped up on her pathetically skinny back (and god, i know that hurt her), the fire in her eyes took my breath away.
Of course, she immediately threw him off. I laughed so hard, and asked how much they wanted for her. Guy said if i had ten bucks i could have the miserable horse. So i gave him twenty and brought her home. I went for a completely different horse, that i never even looked at.
She is a little bay mare, barely 14 hands, and probably wont get any taller (which is okay, i love a short horse). She has one brown eye, and one blue eye. I named her Jazzle Me StarStruck (jazz for short), and a few days later i tried the join up. It was a great experience, and now, almost a year later...i wouldnt trade her for anything in this world. She is my best friend, my teacher, and sometimes...the only one in this world who can bring me down a notch. Every day with her is an adventure. Good luck on your path, with your Makana. And bless your girlfriend for teaching you! I cant find the patience to teach my fiance!! Haha
Great on the join up, me not so lucky. I too watched Monte Roberts, John Lyons, and Pat Parelli. You must have a hidden talent you didn't know until you met Makana. Good luck to you both and have fun!
Join up is fairly straight forward, and fairly easy to accomplish.
Confidence in yourself is mandatory. If you lack it, you already failed.
Horses are prey animals. Humans are predators.
Look at eye location in the skull- predator's eyes are both forward facing, prey eyes are on the sides of their head.
How does this apply? Psychology of you, as well as your horse.
Essentially, in join up, you're assuming the HMFIC position. HMFIC is head mo fo in charge.
Timidity, being unsure of yourself, psychological weakness, and hesitation, all undermine your position, usually fatally.
When you do join up, OWN THE ROUND PEN.
It's YOURS. Own it physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Your horse has inherent natural flight instinct.
Join up works on that simple premise-getting your horse to submit to your authority, and become part of your "herd".
The exercise is based in using body language to induce specific reactions in your horse.
Eye contact to it's butt drives the horse forward. Eye to eye stops the horse. These eye positions, in conjunction with your posture, are what compel the reactions in your horse.
It's how you steer your horse around the pen.
Your indicators in horse body language are ears, head position, and mouth actions.
If you have your horse's full and undivided attention, it's ear will be on you like radar, it's head will be lowered into a submissive position, and it will be licking its lips.
If you don't have all three components, you don't have anything, and you won't get the join up.
Once you have all 3, turn you body position 90 degrees ahead of your horse, and look away. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE HORSE WHATSOEVER!!!!!
Just stand and wait for it.
Listen for the footsteps.
Your horse may stay a couple feet away.
If it does, do not make direct eye contact, bow your head, and pet your horse on the forehead.
You have now joined up.
I can now lead my horse around with my hand under her head, and she does so quite willingly.
It is exceedingly amazing to see a horse go from hesitant and standoffish to pocket pony overnight.
I've now done it with 3 horses, and it's equally breathtaking every time.
On your next day off, first thing after your horse's belly is full, go play in the round pen and work on your groundwork.
Get a little momentum going on, then start the join up, and see how it goes.
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