May 30, 2018 Solvang, California: Austria’s iconic Spanish Riding School invited Monty Roberts to Demonstrate Join-Up last year in July and now Monty is making the demonstrations available on his Equus Online University. Founded in 1580, this 450 year old institution had never before invited an outsider to demonstrate a different set of methods for starting and training horses, specifically the Lipizzaner Breed, well known as the famous white stallions of war. This is the roots of the discipline of Dressage.
The eight lesson series began on May 23 and will be weekly posted Wednesdays until July 11 but will remain on Monty’s Equus Online University site, available 24/7 as do all the 500+ lessons there now. A new lesson is added weekly.
“I never stop learning,” says Roberts. “And I don’t want any of my students to stop learning either! I want all of them to be much better than me. We are just scratching the surface of knowing how much horses can teach us.”
Launched in 2009, Monty Roberts and his team developed the first of its kind Equus Online University; an interactive online lesson site that is considered the most effective educational tool for horsemen on the web. It is established now that this learning system is the most comprehensive globally in horsemanship. It was important to Roberts not only to quantify the language of the horses he calls Equus, but also to share its interpretation with lessons from world renowned horse persons such as Stefan Peters and Jan Ebeling from dressage, Will Simpson from Olympic jumping and Phillip Ralls and Richard Winters from Western Reining.
Since launching, Monty Roberts, Charlotte Bredahl-Baker, Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) and many more have contributed their knowledge of horsemanship. “Considered a rosetta stone for horse communication, one of gestures like signing for the deaf, online lessons are available 24/7 have contributed greatly to the encouragement and study of non-violent training of horses.” said Roberts. He wants the global impact to spread in his lifetime and encourages interested persons to log on at http://montyrobertsuniversity.com/library and have a free look around.
When Monty Roberts was invited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989 to demonstrate his understanding of horsemanship, horse training’s 6000 year old tradition was forever changed. Roberts had cracked the code on the communication system horses used to survive for millions of years before humans had domesticated them. Roberts demonstrated concepts that drew a line at pain in training and his life’s goal is to leave the world a better place for horses and for people, too.
Debbie Roberts Loucks, Monty’s daughter, spearheaded the development, “We are first and foremost advocates for keeping horses in people’s lives. The more than 500 video lessons are in categories of Ground Work, from foundational to Advanced, and Ridden Work, from foundational to problem solving. And there is a terrific forum plus a searchable data base of over 600 Questions and Answers from Monty with a handy search bar.”
In 1948 while laying on his belly watching wild mustangs through binoculars in the Nevada desert, the 13-year-old Monty Roberts couldn’t imagine that what he was discovering about horses he would share nearly 70 years later in the famous Marble Hall of the 465 year old Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria before a full house on July 2, 2017. He became the first-ever outside trainer invited to demonstrate at the school.
In 1945, General George S. Patton and the United States Third Army learned that the Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School had been moved to St. Martins, Austria from Vienna. Patton was a horseman, having competed in the 1912 Olympic games, and declared he was putting the Spanish Riding School under the special protection of the U.S. Army; thus began ‘Operation Cowboy.’
On May 12, 1945, American soldiers acted on Patton’s order to protect the horses until the Lipizzans returned safely to the care of the Spanish Riding School in 1955. Said Patton, “It is probably wrong to permit any highly developed art to perish from the earth. To me, the high schooled Lipizzans represent an art equal to music or painting.” The world stood by transfixed on the massive task of saving these beautiful animals that captivated the world of horsemanship.
In 1949, a 14-year-old Monty Roberts was shown a documentary at Salinas Union High School during a class in agriculture about Patton and the famous white Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School. Roberts became obsessed with finding out more about the horses and the severe training he had seen on the film. The documentary was quickly buried due to scenes of violence in the training of the white stallions.
Patton had preserved the beautiful art form, which was the highest level of classical dressage. Soon after in 1953 Princess Elizabeth was crowned as the Queen of the United Kingdom and her love of horses was well known from about the age of four. Monty Roberts and Queen Elizabeth nurtured their love of horses without meeting and from a world apart. Some 36 years later in 1989, Queen Elizabeth read about Monty Roberts and invited him to Windsor Castle to demonstrate his concepts.
Queen Elizabeth clearly wanted the best for her horses. Whether they were Thoroughbred racehorses, military horses, carriage horses or simply horses she loved to ride, Her Majesty wanted them trained in the most respectful manner possible. The Queen endorsed Monty’s concepts of training horses without violence, causing them to rise to the highest degree of proficiency in their given discipline with the lowest possible stress.
Her Majesty observed five days of Roberts’ causing young horses to accept their first saddle and rider in about 30 minutes. It was then that the Queen requested a book about who Monty Roberts was and why he chose to reverse what had been the traditional ‘breaking’ procedures for 6,000 years. The publishers suggested the book would sell 3,000 to 5,000 copies, but, in fact, Her Majesty watched as Roberts’ first literary challenge reach six and a half million copies.
It has been with the Queen’s encouragement that Monty Roberts has now toured the world demonstrating his principles. In 44 countries Roberts has presented his audiences with over 11,000 horses. About 25 percent have been totally untrained, while 50 percent have been severely beset by behavioral problems. The remaining 25 percent simply refused to load in a trailer or truck used for transportation. All of these were successful in overcoming their given problem.
The horse is a flight animal whose relationship with man dates back about 6,000 years. Without the horse, Genghis Khan couldn’t have conquered more than twice as much land as any other person in history, crossing Eastern and Western civilizations in the process. Unlike other armies, the Mongols traveled with no supply train other than a large reserve of horses. The army was virtually all cavalrymen, who were expert riders and deadly with bow and arrow.
Dressage has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship and the military that trained their horses to perform movements intended to evade or attack the enemy while doing battle. The earliest writings about training horses were from Xenophon, a Greek Military Commander born around 430 BC. Xenophon is famously known for understanding equine behavior and the importance of gentleness and fairness with horses.
These seemingly contradictory qualities of horses as warriors and willing partners are at a crossroads in history and influential horsemen are coming together to explore the future of horsemanship in our cultures. The traditional Spanish Riding School, where the art of classic dressage education has been cultivated for more than 465 years, opened its doors for the first time inviting 82-year-old Monty Roberts to demonstrate his expertise in horsemanship.
On July 2, 2017 the world famous horse trainer was in Vienna to share his art of horse gentling techniques on a Sunday evening to a sold-out arena called the Marble Hall. The Lipizzan horsemen of the Spanish Riding School were present to observe Roberts. The Spanish Riding School brought Roberts five horses of different origins, one untrained, one to gentle, two with problems and one that refused to load in a trailer. One belonged to the Head of Communications for the School, Andrea Kerssenbrock.
“I’m in love with my horse and the bond between us became stronger than before this unique experience. I appreciate so much that we have had these days with Monty.” said Kerssenbrock, owner of Amos who was the first mount in the demonstration that night. She and her husband Franziskus von Kerssenbrock brought Amos for Roberts to train. “Amos behaved like a real ‘champion’ – relaxed and trusting. We’re supposed to take good care of him, the deeply impressed Monty Roberts gave us the way. We will!”
“I always wanted to go see the Spanish Riding School” said Roberts. “This was a pivotal day in my life. You could call it the pinnacle. I was 82 but I felt 12 years old!”
Each horse was dealt with in the absence of violence and all five met their intended goals.
While tracking wild mustangs in Nevada as a boy, Roberts observed a nonverbal communication between the horses, a silent language he would later call ‘Equus’. Roberts incorporates Equus into his nonviolent training approach called Join-Up®. Roberts first developed Join-Up to help teach horsemen how to stop the cycle of violence typically accepted in traditional horse breaking. Roberts created a consistent set of principles using the horse’s inherent methods of communication and herd behavior.
The result is a willing partnership in which the horse’s performance can flourish to its full potential, rather than exist within the boundaries of obedience. These principles are valuable tools to understanding what motivates horse behavior and increasing effectiveness in any application. Join-Up training methods are most simply expressed in the process of starting raw horses. Without the use of pain or force, the trainer persuades a raw horse to accept a saddle and rider in less than 30 minutes.
Monty Roberts has discovered that these principles are effective as a tool for dealing with many stress-related issues of the human mind. Roberts believes that PTSD is not, in fact, a disorder, but an injury. He states that it should be PTSI. His belief is that injuries heal and most people believe that disorders are challenges that do not tend to heal. Disorders require other forms of dealing with disorders of the human.
With these beliefs in place Roberts has been working with military veterans and first responders in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. More than 1,000 individuals have experienced the engagement of horses in the process of dealing with post-traumatic stress injury. The results of these clinics have been overwhelmingly successful and are gaining momentum throughout the areas where Roberts has conducted his clinics.
Chief Executive Officer Elisabeth Gürtler is the director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Ms. Gürtler was an Austrian champion in dressage and part of the Austrian dressage team at the CHIO (Concours Hippique International Officiel) in Aachen in 1979. As Chief Executive Officer she is responsible for the strategic development of the school and the representation of its traditions as the only institution in the world, which has practiced for more than 450 years.
“We were more than impressed that Monty Roberts agreed to demonstrate for the Spanish Riding School and tour the Piber Stud as well.” Gürtler told the audience of 44 press agents and board members of the Spanish Riding School.
On Monday, July 3, Monty Roberts was guest of honor at a luncheon and press conference inside the halls of the Spanish Riding School where the evening before he had demonstrated his mastery of horsemanship. Elisabeth Gürtler and the Director of the Stud Farm in Piber, Dr. Max Dobretsberger were there to honor and thank Roberts for his gesture of demonstrating his methods at the school.
The following day, July 4, Roberts was escorted to Piber to tour the Stud Farm where for over 400 years there has been a concerted effort to breed the Lipizzaner Stallions for the unique abilities of athleticism and intelligence representative of the breed and to make them fit for the famous Spanish Riding School.
“On Sunday, July 2, I provided my horse, Jonas, who did a Join-Up with Mr. Roberts that was very impressive. I am so pleased that we brought Mr. Roberts to the Spanish Riding School. The whole night was incredibly impressive.” said Dr. Max Dobretsberger.
He added, “On Monday, July 3, Monty Roberts was guest of honor at a luncheon and press conference inside the halls of the Spanish Riding School, where the evening before he had demonstrated his mastery of horsemanship. I, along with Elizabeth Gürtler, was there to honor and thank Mr Roberts for his gesture of demonstrating his methods at the school. My wife and I enjoyed giving him a tour of the stud and the mountain pastures. It was an enjoyable afternoon. My wife and I are both veterinarians and we want the best for the horses.”
Photos available upon request
For further information and interviews, please contact in the United States Debbie Roberts Loucks, Roberts Legacy Strategist at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information and interviews, please contact Andrea Kerssenbrock, Head of Communications Spanish Riding School, email@example.com
Monty Roberts has created Join-Up International, a 501c3 non-profit foundation. With his learning center on his Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang, California, he has produced a growing list of certified instructors globally. These facts insure that Monty will meet his life’s goal which is to leave the world a better place than he found it for horses and for people, too. www.MontyRoberts.com
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Media Contact: Debbie Loucks
Monty and Pat Roberts, Inc./Join-Up® International