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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm mostly a parelli/ponyclub person but after watching a few demos and reading some books, I decidedly to try join up on Shakira. Its was kind of a fail.

It all started well. I sent her off at a trot, and she almost immediately lowered her head and licked her lips, putting an ear on me.

I relaxed my body, dropping my shoulders and letting out a sigh. Shakira stopped, turned and took a few steps in towards me, licking her lips.

Then promptly threw her head down and began grazing like her life depended on it.

I sent her out again, and the process repeated. She was quick to put on her *listening face*, then even quicker to graze once I took off the pressure. After doing this over and over for about 20minues I gave up and took her off on a ride.

I did notice she was very attentive afterwards when we rode.


During my attempts at joining up I never did get her to take more than 4 or 5 steps back to me, and I certainly didn't manage to get her to follow me around. I did however, get her to the point that after I sent her away she would only needs around half a circle before licking her lips and lowering her head. I am certain she used her brain and figured out that if she makes a nice face I allow her to rest, but I can't figure out how to connect that lesson to eventually following me around. I do want to succeed in this, so any advice?
 

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The key is to make her want to come to you. Honestly, the first thing I'd try in this scenario is to keep doing what you're doing, but the moment she stops (every time she stops) relax yourself like you've been doing, but also turn your back to her. By facing a horse you are putting pressure on them, by turning away you're taking the pressure off. For most horses who do come in to a person after/while learning an exercise like this, they prefer to come in from behind simply because there is no pressure there. Lol, that's one thing they got correct in the show Heartland. Amy tried join up with Spartan but he wouldn't come in to her, so she turned away from him, and he came.
Also, one thing to keep in mind is just because whatever you're doing isn't working right away doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do, a lot of the times the key to success is to just keep at it until you do get a result
 

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You are on the right track. As she turns to you step back a few steps. Horses are inclined to follow what moves away. If she doesn't respond to this, then turn your back to her. As for her grazing, the moment her nose touches the grass move her away, even at the walk is fine. You are moving her feet. About mid way ask for a change of direction and work her on the rail like this a few times. She will start to figure out that grazing results in work. Don't let her turn in to you until you decide. It's not her decision. A lot of people find this hard to grasp but the more you drive a horse away, the more it will want to be with you.
 

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Lol, I'm sure my horse would try to do the same in a field full of grass- it's a horse. Try working with her in a round pen to start this off so that there aren't other distractions for her. But I agree, if she stops to graze just send her back out to tell her that you call the shots.

Good luck, keep up the good work :)
 

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I would make her work the pen a little longer - YOU get to decide when to let her in. Her signs say she is ready, but as you have suggested, she has this "game" figured out. Really make her work, trot, canter, change directions, drive her off. See if that doesn't help her understand that you are looking for the full commitment from her. Let us know!
 

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May I ask what you hope to gain by join up? I have a mare who I did a Join up with as a yearling and than I tried it again with her when she returned from training/work/me being away at school when she was around 7. The mare did not join up at 7. The difference was that at 7 we already had an established relationship, she was easy to catch, obedient and willing under saddle and a doll to groom. As a yearling, she was difficult to catch, wiggly on the cross ties and thusly benefited from being "tossed out of the herd". I think join up has a place; however, I also think there is a learning curve and point, after which it is no longer of use. If your horse would not benefit from join up than why do it? Likewise, if you are looking for your horse to follow you that can be easily achieved through a variety of methods. Some horses just don't regard humans as part of the herd.
 

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What is it you want? that she walk up to you and follow you? is that what makes join up a success?

I kind of think if she's riding nicely for you now, why bother with "join up", since she is already being a good riding partner.

if you really want to have her come to you, you have to make all other choices be uncomfortable ones. So, if she stops and looks at you but chooses to put her head down to graze, you have to make that choice be an uncomfortable one. you'd have to instantly interrupt that, by , say, swishing the end of the lead rope at her, or the whip , or slapping your hat against your thigh, or kicking some sand near her. Anything that interrupts that decision she just made. she'll put her head up or may be jump and look at you like , "wth?" then you invite her to come in to you again with the postures already described. If she comes in, voila!
if she chooses grass, interrupt. if she chooses to walk off, make her run off. just for a step or two and then see if when you stop driving, she'll look back to you for that invitation. if she walks a step or two over, go over and pet her. and walk off at an angle to the side. I bet she'll follow.

Done. go riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I wanted to join up with her for three reasons

1) Curiosity. I've heard a lot about the method.

2) It would be the start of my training her to work with me at liberty.

3) It might improve her, and never ending improvement is the goal.


Tomorrow I will try the suggestions and report back on the results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I attempted join up again yesterday using your advice and found that I could ask her to come right into th centre but no further.
 

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She probably can't see any point in what you're trying to do - horses aren't stupid so you have to be very clear in how you ask her and give her a reason to want to do it
I don't think theres a lot to be gained from join up with a horse that's already ridden and good to handle and they might even find it confusing
Have you tried leading her on a really long rope so she watches your movements and responds to them rather than you dragging her alongside - so when you walk she walks, when you stop she stops if you step back so does she - I like to use verbal cues for most things because then the horse understands what you want all the time - I don't want my horse to come into the centre just because I stop sending it on and if I want to walk away from it and leave it standing there I don't want it to follow me unless I say so
 

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I have one that thinks join-up means in my face. The other will not move toward me until I ask him to. His idea of join-up is a good 10' away. I am more concerned that the horse works in a calm manner watching for direction changes or halts than coming in to me.
 

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To me it sounds you're not asking much of her.

To me the idea of join up is that you put a fair amount of pressure on the horse until they want to be near you. That they start to listen to you and watch your every move. In the join up you should be the single thing your horse is paying attention to.

So I'd start off at a canter, and push her forward and not ever let her slow without your permission, then every few laps move your body in front of her shoulder line and spin her around. If she doesn't do it immediately get after her. I don't really "join up" but I guess I do something a little similar, and I find it's lot quicker when you're constantly making the horse change direction, they're thinking then. I like putting horses in a round yard to see how well they listen and keep their attention on me. However it's not the be all and end all, if you have a horse and you have a good relationship, they respect you and have good manners then the join up is going to do nothing.

When you decide to let her stop take a step back and turn away from her, or side on. She should be tired enough to be catching her breath rather than grazing. If she's paying you attention but not moving then curve past her, your shoulder a metre or so from her nose, not looking at her, chances are she might follow you. If she does walk a circle each way and that's enough - she's being there with you. If she walks off on her own then turn around and chase her hard so she's cantering around. If she just stands and refuses to move anywhere, wait until she does, or starts grazing, or looks somewhere else, and then get up at her and get her running.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Jaycee- Yes, I do Parelli so Shakira is used to responding to long ropes and she does listen to me on a totally slack lead. However as soon as I unclip the slack rope she stops listening.
 

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When working in a round pen or just a lunge line, it is key to keep the horse calm. It is imperative we use only enough energy to get the horse to move how we desire. Getting the horse hyped up accomplishes little because it is using the reactive side of it's brain.
 

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two ideas:
You can try backing or walking up to your mare when she is standing in the center of the arena. Than make a circle. Basically walk yourself sideways into her head making her turn and keep turning. Like imagine you are trying to get your horse to turn a circle but without a lead. This may trigger a following response. I have had it work with a few horses who don't fully approach during "join up" but will follow if I meet them half way. They will follow once I make the assertive "pushing" of asking them to turn a circle with me at their head.

If your goal is liberty work, I would look into clicker training. Clicker might make the "right" choice a little more obvious than the join up method. You can mark behaviors in a fast, clear way. Right now, your horse is not sure exactly what you are asking and clicker might clear some of that up.
 

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Jaycee- Yes, I do Parelli so Shakira is used to responding to long ropes and she does listen to me on a totally slack lead. However as soon as I unclip the slack rope she stops listening.
In that case use the round pen to lunge her in and get her totally obedient to your verbal cues and then remove the lunge line and ask her to do the same things at liberty. Once she's got a hang of that she should be listening to you regardless of a lead rope
As already said - keep everything calm - she should see it as place to work with you - not away from you
I'm sure if I sent any of my horse away from me in the sense of driving them away they'd say 'OK if that's what you want I'll go but don't expect me to bother coming back!!!
 

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It's pretty easy to just 'make the wrong thing difficult' in a round pen or on lead. If you want your horse to work with you at liberty, I think it's also important to 'make the right things rewarding' - as in not just lack of bad/pressure, but actually desirable for the horse.
 
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