Is anyone opposed to Join Up?
I did a quick search and couldn't find the answer I was looking for, so I thought I'd ask.
Is anyone here opposed to "Join up"? Why?
Just want to hear some thoughts.:-)
I'm not against it, but I believe the technique is over-rated. It is not the be-all end-all of respect techniques as some make it out to be. I can get horses to respect me through in hand work, riding, and/or lunging. If the technique is used, it is not an easy way out. You should still watch how you lead the horse, how you groom the horse, how you load the horse onto a trailer, etc. I have never done the technique myself so that's all I can really say.
Definitely not opposed to it, but as roro said it isn't something that can stand alone without good training as well. I have used it with all of my horses, but don't expect them to be miraculously and perfectly respectful from then on. It is a good tool, especially for young horses I have found. Unfortunately it is also very easy to get wrong, all it takes is the wrong body language at the wrong time and game over.
Yes, **depending on how & why it's done**. I don't *generally* like the MR type style of round penning & think it's based on mistaken ideas...
Firstly lets look at the principles behind it. It is supposed to replicate a lead mare's behaviour towards another errant member of the herd - usually a testy youngster who hasn't 'learned his manners'. Horse bands, especially in the wild, get their security from being part of a close knit herd. When a subordinate horse 'misbehaves', the lead mare will often drive the horse off and keep him out of the herd, until he shows his 'sorry face' and is welcomed back in. The errant horse desperately wants to be among the herd, because not only are his mates & family there, others he has a close bond with, but being on the outside is dangerous when there may be predators about.
Now lets look at the behaviour of a hunted horse & it's hunters. Depending on the predator's style, the horse may be pursued relentlessly until it gives up in exhaustion. Or the opportunistic hunter may close in when it is trapped in a blind canyon or such. In either situation, to begin with, escape is obviously in the forefront of the horse's mind. But when it begins to become exhausted, or is otherwise trapped without hope, it will eventually 'submit', 'shut down', 'give up', whatever you want to call it. It will slow down, lower it's head, lowering it's adrenaline, & often even turn towards the pursuers(very similar behaviour & 'signals' to the 'sorry face' of first scenario). It doesn't tend to do this unless completely spent, physically & emotionally. The 'shut down' phase is suggested to be to basically allow the predators to get on with their job without causing the prey(meal) any further undue stress & pain. Also it saves what faint reserves or hope that may be left for any last ditch surprise escape attempts.
So, IMO, after reading the opinions of ethologists & behaviourists who have also studied & written about it, it seems to me that many styles & principles of round penning are a lot more in line with the second scenario than the first - the horse is placed in an enclosed environment it can't escape from, with a human that it may be terrified of, who is focussing on & 'chasing' it. Even if the horse doesn't perceive you as a predator, he likely doesn't see you as part of the herd, let alone his respected leader to begin with, likely doesn't naturally feel the need to be in close with you & the danger of being on the outside - especially as his true herd is probably out there somewhere - he may or may not be bonded to the chaser already and he may or may not have committed some 'misdemeanor'(or if he has, associated it with the 'punishment').
Now, so saying, I do think 'join up', 'round penning', 'the catching game', whatever you want to call it is a handy tool in the right situation, and there are also many ways of doing it, in a much less confrontational, threatening way. Behaviourally, it obviously certainly can *help* teach the horse to come when asked, follow you and potentially *reinforce* the bond & trust between you. I don't believe it of itself actually creates an emotional bond or trust. It can desensitise the horse to being 'chased', so the horse *responds* with understanding to the pressure, rather than *reacts* in fear. Done badly tho, it can cause the horse to fear the chaser & his tools all the more & become more reactive, less responsive.
With a horse who is already reasonably comfortable with me, I might use a similar technique to MR style to teach him to come when called and to follow me. I also use 'driving' from behind to reinforce my position as leader - you move when I tell you to - and 'lunging' to teach/reinforce responding to implied pressure/cues at a distance. I tend to only use a roundpen or that small of an area for lunging, and sometimes for initially teaching a sceptical but unscared(ie 'dominant' or used & abused type maybe) horse to 'be caught' - ie come when cued.
I wouldn't do it with a scared horse in a tiny area such as a round pen, or so directly (aggressively?). With a wild/scared horse I do it in a small paddock or very large yard - say the size of an arena. & I only do it in that small an area to save time/energy on my part ;-) I also only get after the horse if he turned his back or walked away from me. I 'get after' him only calmly at a walk. Basically, I follow at a distance as he moves away from me - keeping light(but assertive, consistent) pressure on him - but the instant he slows, turns an ear, whatever the *smallest* signal that he's thinking of hesitating, or even just changing tactics, I will stop, relax & walk away a bit(remove pressure to negatively reinforce his behaviour). I will repeat this until he understands that to get me to quit hassling just requires him looking at me.
Depending on the horse & his experiences, I may then start the same game but keep the pressure on until he actually turns towards me & then until he starts to move towards me, but generally with a scared/wild horse I won't try to go that far yet, or even approach him necessarily. I will instead go sit down & focus on something else - say reading a book, plaiting some leather, whatever. I will wait for the horse to approach me & ensure I'm not the least threatening - focussed on catching him, whatever - when he gets there. I also like to have a Good Thing for him to find when he gets there - pellets, a carrot, vine leaves, rosehips, whatever is a treat for that horse. I often won't approach him or push him to approach me until he's already learned to be comfortable in my presence.
Anyway, that's my take on the subject. Interested to hear all the other opinions!
I've sort of done it with two horses when they wouldn't come out of the field and thought it would be more fun to keep running away from me so I made them keep running while I only moved at a walk. Then I ignored them and fussed the other horses, both of the two I wanted were immediatly over to me and waiting to have the head collar put on. They weren't together as they lived on seperate yards but it worked with both of them so out in the field as a way of catching them it works but as pointed out above in the round pen away from their friends I don't quite understand it but hey it can work so fair enough.
I've done it 2 or 3 times but never with my own horse. I have done it for people who have horses that can not be caught.
I will pressure them continuelly until I get that certain look from them and not before, to turn is not good enough, I pressure until I can see it in their eyes and then and only then do I give up and allow the horse to come to me.
So far it worked every time and the horses never ran again.
I once used 3 other people plus the owner to pressure her horse until the horse actually turned and ran to her. The area was too big for one person to cover thus the 3 helpers.
I have used it and don't have a problem with it, but as others have already said, it was given a little too much emphasis as some kind of "magic button" training method.
At the height of MR's popularity, when his first book came out and he was getting all kinds of media attention, the Join-Up process became little more than a spectacle. I think it also attracted some people with little or no horse experience because it was presented as something that anyone could do. IMO, they'd have been better off signing up for riding lessons at a local stable, or (if they were absolutely set on having a horse of their own) getting connected with a trainer who would work with them and the horse.
Even if some novice horse owner with little riding experience was able to "do" Join-Up and get their horse to the point where they could get a saddle on and ride, it didn't do anything to help them become decent riders. If anything, there was a greater chance of them ruining the horse or getting themselves seriously injured.
Wow,Loosie what a great post.In the past I spent many hours chasing horses around in the interest of natural horsemanship.There were times when it worked really well but sometimes the outcome was a horse that was hollow.That look where the spark is gone ,very sad to see.That was many years ago but I can still make myself feel like crap if I think about it too much.If you look at the behavior of a true lead mare and by that I mean a balanced personality.She will apply just the right amount of pressure to handle a horse .Sometimes just the look sometimes feet flying.There isn't anger attached to it just clear information.The part of this that is important to understand is she will not put one ounce more into the action,the very second the other horse gets the meaning of her action she stops as quickly as she started.That is how I now work with horse to the best of my ability .If the horse is rank I will send them ,but the second they yield I stop.Once I shifted to this thinking 90% of the time it is just the look.Nice to see someone give so much thought to their actions.
She is not perfect either.
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