American Trainer, Monty Roberts, is known worldwide for his gentle taming method which establishes a connection with the animal and does not require brute force.
The Horse Gentler Monty Roberts used gentle taming with horse at Barretos Equine Event 2023 in Brazil.
© 2020 by Monty and Pat Roberts New window.
Under the eyes of the audience at the largest event of its kind in the world, the “horse gentler” American trainer Monty Roberts took approximately one hour to tame a horse which had never been ridden, on the opening night of the Rodeo International in Barretos, Brazil.
The approximately four-year-old horse was only trained to lead before this night. The wild animal came from the Northeast territories of Brazil and the American trainer noted that he had never seen horses of this type in his life.
But he wasn’t daunted by the challenge. His gentle taming method proved, once again, to be effective, precisely opposing the aggressive methods used by his father. “My father was much harsher than any father should be,” said the trainer before starting the presentation.
His father used abusive techniques to tame the horses on the ranch where they lived in California. Unlike him, Monty Roberts never wanted to impose himself on the animal.
“I don’t want to be the boss, I want to be the partner”, he said.
Connection and Cooperation
Precisely for this reason, the trainer dedicated himself to understanding the communication system of the horses which is gestural using body language to train them. He calls this Equus and it sets up trust with the animal, creating a connection and cooperation.
To perform the presentation, the team of Certified Instructors, Brazilians Waldo Franco and Miguel Lupiano as well as German Denise Heinlein set up a round in the middle of the arena for the trainer to demonstrate his methods.
“I want Canário to be happy here”, he said of the horse.
The noise from the huge Festival Park was a factor that made the task difficult, as it scared the animal. “I would like everyone to be very quiet, but that may be impossible in Brazil”, the trainer said with a smile.
Though it was never completely quiet, the audience, or a good part of it, collaborated and even adopted the “claps” by shaking their hands instead of clapping them.
Join-Up® The Method developed by the American Monty Roberts to tame horses in a gentle way; without using violence
The taming began with a small caress on the animal’s fore head. The first phase is called the ‘Join-Up‘ and starts with the trainer near the round pen’s fence, releasing the lead rope from the horse’s halter. He let Canário go freely around the pen. The aim of this stage is to gain the trust of the horse.
With his body posture, Monty Roberts was convincing the horse to travel one direction and then the other. He noted that one of the animal’s ears was “locked” on Roberts, which indicated that the animal was paying attention to the trainer. Gradually, the horse slowed down, starting to relax and lower its head toward the ground.
Soon came what the gentler explained were the main signs that the horse was relaxed: he began to lick and chew. “I’ll walk away, and he’ll follow,” said Monty Roberts. No sooner said than done. The audience began to applaud, but the trainer reminded them that it was necessary to be silent, not to scare the horse.
The trainer started the second part of the gentling and asked the team to bring plastic bags on a handle to carry out the desensitization process. This step consists of causing the horse to lose its fear of objects approaching it.
Monty Roberts lightly passed the object on both sides of the animal so that he understood that no violence would be used there. “It’s to show him that I mean no harm,” explained the trainer.
With the object, he simulated movements of a rider climbing and jumping on his back. Soon, Monty Roberts requested a saddle, the first of the horse’s life.
With the help of Denise Heinlein, the main instructor at the Monty Roberts method teaching center in Europe, the horse was soon saddled. The process, which usually takes a few weeks, with the American happened in minutes.
After a few laps, Monty Roberts requested light reins and a leather piece to hold the stirrups to show the horse how to follow the eventual rider’s directions. Meanwhile, the trainer walked the horse around the circle, and with each ‘cluck’ the animal trotted faster.
The First Ride
After Monty Roberts taught the rein cues, it was time for Canário to receive his first rider. The volunteer was Thiago Mega, a bucking horse champion from Barretos. He wore a helmet, at the horse gentler’s request for safety.
The rider, guided by the trainer, caressed the horse between the eyes and the trainer started to lift the rider, up and down, but not yet mounting, “To show him that climbing on won’t hurt him,” explained the American.
In a short time, Thiago was mounted on the horse. However, as expected, the horse got scared and kicked a few times. The experienced rider did not take long to see that it was time to slide off and reassure the animal.
It wasn’t time to give up. The first rider ended up being Zé, a mannequin rider made and named for the Barretos Equine Event by Monty Roberts himself. After tying Zé to the saddle, he released the animal to walk freely and to understand that none of this would hurt him.
After a few minutes with the first crash-proof rider, Thiago Mega was able to mount again and take the horse for a quiet ride around the pen, easily.
This time, it wasn’t just the horse that was delighted: the audience held back the applause until the animal exited the round pen, and then the applause was only briefly interrupted when Monty Roberts did 88 push-ups – one for each year of his life, while the audience counted along.
MONTY ROBERTS first gained widespread fame with the release of his New York Times Best Selling book, The Man Who Listens To Horses; a chronicle of his life and development of his non-violent horse training methods called Join-Up®. Monty grew up on a working horse farm as a firsthand witness to traditional, often violent methods of horse training and breaking the spirit with an abusive hand. Rejecting that, he went on to win nine world’s championships in the show ring. Today, Monty’s goal is to share his message that “Violence is never the answer.” Roberts has been encouraged by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the award of the Membership in The Royal Victorian Order, as well as becoming Patron of Join-Up International. Other honors received were the ASPCA “Founders” award and the MSPCA George T. Angell Humanitarian Award and FEI’s Man of the Year. Monty was recently included as Horse and Hound Magazine’s Top 50 Horsemen of All Time. Monty is credited with launching the first of its kind Equus Online University; an interactive online lesson site that is the definitive learning tool for violence-free training.
JOIN-UP philosophies can be seen at work with both humans and horses across the world, from farms to major corporations. To learn more about Monty Roberts or the many applications of his Join-Up training methods, visit www.montyroberts.com. Horse Sense and Soldiers aired on Discovery Military in 2010 highlighting the therapeutic effect horses and Monty Roberts’ Join-Up® have on PTSD. Soon after Monty and his team developed the Horse Sense & Healing program for veterans and first responders. Lead-Up International was officially launched worldwide at the Monty Roberts International Learning Center in Solvang, California, in February 2017. The purpose of Lead-Up International is to reduce violence in the community by creating peaceful leaders from vulnerable youth utilizing equine-assisted therapy and non-verbal communication, building trust-based relationships.
Press release by Debbie Loucks