August 12, 2020 – Ask Monty Newsletter
Question: What is the most subtle evidence of acceptance from a horse?
What is the most subtle evidence of acceptance from a horse? Working with a mustang who I’ve never seen lick and chew, blink, sigh, yawn. Yet I’ve gotten him through haltering and even cinching bareback pad. Do I need to go way back to beginning? I have not done Join-Up … he’s at a rescue and they don’t have the perfect facilities.
Please keep in mind that licking and chewing is the manifestation of the reduction of adrenaline. It is a sign of relaxation. I cannot remember a single mustang who didn’t eventually lick and chew. You don’t have complete relaxation and you ought to continue to try to get it. Read all you can about Join-Up®. Send away, and invite in, repeating this process until you get relaxation.
Learn as much as possible what the human should do and what should be expected from the horse. Licking and chewing and lowering the head are two very important gestures. I guarantee you, you will get it when you successfully conduct the human gestures I have outlined for the Join-Up process. I would suggest not going much further until you caused this relaxation to occur.
The facility is not important, the actions are. Find or create an enclosure that has sides that are at least 5-5.5 feet in height, straight up and down. For safety if you use panels, a clearance from the ground of 10-14 feet is best. A diameter of 16 meters is right for a saddle horse, about 50 feet across, remembering that every two feet more adds four around.
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