Could you please describe, it the simplest form possible, how to do Join Up with your horse. I am very interested in doing this with my 3 year old, Edern Siarl, would you recommend it? :D
A join up is in it's simplest term your horse acknowledging that you are head of the herd and wants to remain in your herd. some will tell you to lay them down, some will tell you to scare the cr@p outta them. What I do is simply work them in the round pen or on a line until they show signs of submission then I stop, turn my back and take a couple steps away. when the horse begins to follow and come to you that is the join up. Stand there for a couple minutes if they don't move toward you then work them some more.
I did join-up with my huge big clydie cross today and I got the most amazing results, I seriously recommend it! By the end he was almost 'working in liberty' with me- I took him into a huge paddock, (he had no halter,nothing on him) usually before join-up he'd just eat grass or just look at me but not do anything, AFTER join-up he was amazing, I could run around doing figure of eights and twenty meter circles and he would follow me everywhere at a walk and trot! I even could stop and spin and run the other way and he would too. It's seriously amazing and I seriously recommend it!
i join up with my horses in a round pen but you could do it in any riding arena that is fenced in. basically your going to start with your horse facing you and rub his head and pretend to be his friend, than your going to push him out using a whip or his lead rope or whatever to scare him, keep him moving in libarty (no lunge line or anything) keep him at a verry fast pace and make sure to keep him moving . You are than looking for three signs, the first sign is your horses inside ear will turn toward you, that means he is now listining to you, the next sign is hell lower his head and start licking his lips hes basically saying im tired boss can you make me stop, but keep him moving the next sign your looking for is chewing, this is saying that hes now taking you as the leader and he really wants to stop, this is when you turn your back on him and if he comes to you than run around the arena if he follows your joined up if he doesnt move him out again and keep him moving looking for the same three signs. do this everyday and youll have amazing results, i did this with my horse who was dealthy afraid of trailers no she loads perfectly fine without any problems what so ever.
I have tried join up before and my mare never gets to the point where she is chewing. she just goes around and around and throws a fit. How long did it take you guys to get your horses to join up the first time? Or is there something I could be doing wrong?
Not all horses will react the same way. With my pony join up was very simple and she joined up really well. She didn't do any licking or chewing and I would not push her to that point because she doesn't need it.
With the new horse I'm working with I have to push her a lot more. She also never did any licking but her head lowered just a bit and she started chewing some. Her join up wasn't as great, and I could tell so I kept the part where she follows me off lead short before I proceeded to regular ground work.
When I join up with a horse I don't start by pretending to be the horses friend. I take them in an enclosed area and let them off lead. As soon as they leave me or start paying attention to something else I chase them off and make them start moving. I never let them get below a trot and I control their direction. I am getting after them like that because they aren't paying enough attention to me.
How long this takes will depend on the horse but when the horse starts paying attention to me I immediately take the pressure off them by changing my posture and turning so I'm not facing them directly. I speak softly and call them in. If they don't listen and start paying attention to something else again I get after them. If they don't come but stand there watching me I will go to them with very non threatening body language and with my body turned slightly away from them and stroke them and then ask them to follow me. They usually do. As long as the horses attention is on me they are good, if they are not paying attention I drive them away. Signs the horse is paying attention to you include, looking at you, head lowering, licking and chewing.You will probably notice a general softening of the horse.
I think it's really something you need to see before trying though. I would try to find a video of it on the internet, or maybe someone has a good suggestion for something you could watch?
And yes! I would definitely recommend it! For some horses it is like magic and with others it only helps a lot :) I will say again though watch it done a couple times so you really can see what to look for before you try it!
I don't recommend/like 'join up' the way most seem to do/understand it. I think Monty Robert's theory behind the idea is flawed. It's a confrontational method of forcing a horse to submit/give up. Donning the fire suit now....:hide: I would not advise doing it with a horse that hasn't learned to trust you, your games & toys first.
Ground work is much less stressful and makes a lot more sense IMOP. I would NOT do this with a 3 year old because their joints aren't as strong as they could be and it's very stressful.
But OP can do as she wants as it's not my horse in the mix. Still, I wouldn't.
Only had time for a quick few lines last night. I'd like to explain why & what I don't like about the way people(inc MR) *generally* seem to understand 'join up'.
Firstly, agree fully with Sky's comments above & also want to comment on...
IMO if you've got your horse trotting away from you, you can bet they are indeed paying attention to you. It's just that you're telling them to leave, so of course they're focussed on other places! When the horse 'gives you' her ear, it's because she's run 'away' & you've kept pushing, so eventually she realises that her current behaviour isn't working to get you to quit pushing, so she's looking at you wondering what signals she may have missed, what she can do to get you to stop.
I don't personally think there is anything wrong with using appropriate pressure & negative reinforcement(removal of pressure to teach/strengthen a behaviour) at all, and I also agree with the rest of what you've said, srh1. I just think we need to analyse what we want the horse to learn from this sort of exercise & what the horse is actually learning. Eg. a 'join up' type exercise is actually how I teach a horse to come when called & it seems that this is what you're(srh1) wanting too(?).
I don't make a horse trot or chase the horse away from me if I want to teach it to do the opposite. But if the horse is moving/facing away from me, I will signal them to come & direct some pressure at their hind end(not out behind as in lunging), which may indeed cause them to think I'm asking them to move further/quicker away at first. I too keep *light* pressure on until I get the smallest sign(like an ear in my direction) that they are confused about the continued pressure & ready to try something else. Then I instantly relax bodylanguage & focus to reinforce this. It doesn't take too many repetitions to work out that when I direct pressure at their hind quarters, I mean them to move that part away from me & so face me & ultimately come to me.
Monty Robert's theory behind this trick is that it supposedly emulates natural herd discipline & therefore magically gives you the same 'respect' as a lead mare. In a wild herd, a lead mare will chase an 'offender' out of the herd and not allow him to come back in until he's 'apologised'. Once he's shown those signs(head lowering, licking & chewing, etc), she allows him back in the ranks.
The discrepancies between natural behaviour & 'join up' start with my amazing observation that humans aren't actually horses:-P, aren't perceived as other horses or often even as a desirable 'herd member' to stick close to, have far different(& often unconscious & conflicting) bodylanguage. The mare doesn't chase anyone from the herd without good reason - 'rude' behaviour for eg. She also doesn't continue to chase the horse around once he's 'out', only when he tries to come back before she's happy about it. The horse is not trapped in close proximity and he desires to be close to the other horses & feels anxious when away/alone. The edges of the herd or away & alone are where prey animals are most at risk of predators. In contrast, 'join up' teaches to chase a horse 'away' & continue chasing them, although they cannot do as they're asked & get away. Especially if a horse has not first learned that people are to be trusted, the horse generally has little if any desire to be close to the handler and every desire to be away - often also where his actual 'herd' is.
There are also similarities between 'join up' and prey/predator behaviour. If for eg. a pack of wolves was able to separate a horse from the herd, they would keep the pressure on & endeavour to keep the horse away from the rest and exhaust him until they had a good chance to make the kill. The head lowering at the end of a tiring run is a sign of exhaustion. While it would be rare for animals in the wild to be trapped & run in a small area, once they get beyond hope, for eg. once the lion's latched onto the exhausted antelope, it seems to be a common 'last ditch' coping mechanism for the prey to just 'give up' & 'submit' to being eaten. Some people refer to this type of mental response as 'catatonia'.
So anyway, I think it's vital to really analyse & consider the natural behaviour & psychology of the animal & that emulating this is indeed helpful in effectively communicating & developing a good relationship with your horse, but for the above reasons, I don't believe 'join up' is a good way to go about it.
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