January. 8, 2020 – Ask Monty Newsletter

Question: When is a horse safe and ready to ride?

Dear Monty,

Some horses will instinctively buck during the starting process, what would you consider to be the safest or best way to ensure from the outset that this is not a ‘go to’ option when horses encounter fear or excitement?

Thinking specifically about the safety of riders who are more vulnerable such as those with physiological injuries (e.g. like myself, having previously had spinal surgery); more mature riders and young children.

Common sense tell us that there are certain breeds/ temperaments that would be better suited to these riders, even having taken this into consideration, are there any extra measures you like to put in place when starting horses when you know your riders will be little more delicate or vulnerable?

As an example, I know she is an exceedingly capable horsewoman but, as a responsible trainer, how do you know when a horse is ready to carry someone as precious as The Queen?

Kind regards,

Monty’s Answer:

Dear Eve,

This is one of the most complicated questions that has ever come through to me. Many of my students have heard me say very often that safety should be a primary issue of every procedure we endeavor with horses. I often say one should take a red marker pen and make a sign saying safety first that you put up in your stable and then attempt to always live by it.

The question, based upon choosing a rider for that first experience the horse has with a human on its back, is probably the quintessential heart and soul of the question you’ve posed. Your entire question has several aspects within it. I have chosen to answer this one segment at a time. Any student of the Monty Roberts Online University should mark this one down so as to follow it, answer after answer, segment after segment.

Segment One:
The first sentence is definitely the wrong way to consider this issue. One should always accept the premise that every horse has the tendency to instinctually buck when taking its first rider. Yes, I know, you’ve seen a lot of horses that didn’t buck with their first rider. But believe me when I tell you that all horses have DNA from 50 million years of surviving because they have a tendency to eject from their backs any living creature that ends up in that position. One cannot blame the horse for this. It is, in fact, the primary reason that they have survived for the 50 million years.

Next week we will move on to segments I will name “Preparation.”


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