August 19, 2020 – Ask Monty Newsletter

Question: How can you win over your horse’s trust?

Hi Monty great to see you live streaming recently! I have just taken on a 15-year-old female Warmblood, on loan. She has a history of being abused and is quite twitchy with me. Can you give me some pointers on gaining her confidence so she doesn’t see me as a threat. I have tried food treats and gentle talking but she is clearly on her guard with me. I so want to make her happy.


Monty’s Answer:

Dear Rebecca,

It is true that for the past 10 years or so my principle work has been with remedial horses and not those that are simply in training without the mistakes of human beings. It sounds as though you are a brave lady to take on a 15-year-old horse that has been abused in the past. As a realist I would say you have one chance in a hundred to overcome these behaviors that have taken 15 years to imprint themselves on the horse in question. For her, it is great that you have taken up the challenge. For you, it seems a daunting task.

In your question, I never heard the term Join-Up®. I never heard the words Dually halter. What I did hear, loud and clear, were the words ‘food’ and ‘treat’. I have so often said that food is a very bad reward for a horse. In nature, no blade of grass has ever run from a horse. Consequently, horses do not well at considering food a reward. Used with the remedial horse, selecting food to be a part of the learning process generally does one thing, 100% of the time. This new remedial consequence is called ‘biting the human being.’

There are almost 650 lessons on my Monty Roberts University. I believe it is fair to say that virtually half of them mention to start your relationship with your horse with Join-Up. It is probably true that a large number of them discuss the use of the Dually halter. Both of these procedures are, in my opinion, just about mandatory for me when dealing with any horse exhibiting negative behavior. My textbook From My Hands to Yours would be a pathway for you to find how I would choose to deal with the behavior you have given me a glimpse of. Please inform us of how it is going.


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