Monty Roberts Equus Online University
Horse Training Video Instruction Program

Learn all about Equus • Dually Halter • Shy Boy Mustang • Jumping Horses
• Story of a Horse Whisperer • Riding Horsemanship • Dressage Horses • Willing Partners
• Horse Training • Round Pen Lessons • Performance Horses • Join-Up

← back

Horse Sense for People

Advice needed

Hi, this is my first time posting on the forum.. hope I've got the right one! I would like some advice about my new horse. I started loaning her last week and she was also moved to the yard last week-so it's a new place to both of us. I've started slowly- (well what I think is slowly).. just concentrating on improving her ground manners in a round pen as she's really bargy. I've ridden her once but she was so on edge I just didn't enjoy it. I did join up and i think it went ok.. she did the follow up after as well. 
However, I feel like it's a struggle doing anything with her at the moment. She doesn't like leaving her field and when I've finally got her out of the field she whinnies to the other horse in the field and just looks on edge. When I get her into the round pen she partly gives me her attention but she's still looking round all the time and whining.

I don't know whether to just leave her alone for a bit so she gets used to the field and the area or keep handling her daily. My gut instinct is that I should keep handling her and taking her out of the field getting use the process but it's hard because she's not enjoying it and neither am I. 

I'm also feeling pressure to ride her when really I just want to build up my trust with her. So I'm doubting myself.. I've never owned a horse before and I just want to get it right so I would really appreciate hearing anyone's advice on how to settling in a horse and time scales for things. 
Thanks in advance 😊
Mel - Ramsgate UK
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed
Hi C

Lovely time taking on a new loan, I am assuming that you knew this horse before??

You will get many suggestions, we all have different methods along with Monty's methods.

I will suggest just being with her, walking her in hand and show her around fully and enjoy the time with her without expecting anything of her.   Monty says 'slow is fast' and when a horse is in a new situation it is important that things are taken slowly for them so they can adjust.

When I first work with a horse in a new environment I help them find a safe place, a place where they can be themselves with no pressure or ask from people. They need this space both in the stable and in the field.   It can take a short time or a long time for a horse to settle and it all depends on how we are with the horse, horses are reactive creatures and respond to everything around from small reactions of an ear twitch to massive reactions of rearing or taking flight.  How we handle the horse is essential to ensure they trust everything we do with them and that they feel safe. This safe environment creates will partners with our horses.

Creating a safe place in a field is simply being with them but not near or touching them, sitting with a cuppa a short distance away will help, whilst you sit with the cuppa watch your horse and see how she moves, this will help for when you ride her.

In the stable standing without touching till she settles, then an itch all over will help her to start to feel safe in her new stable. 

Walking everywhere with your horse in hand is an excellent way to not only help your horse but create a working relationship between the two of you. As your horse becomes more comfortable with walking around with you, the head will drop down below your shoulder, this is good for keeping the adrenaline down and stretching out your horses back.  Monty's videos in the lessons about the horse walking in the sweet spot will be of help for you.

If she doesn't need to come in from the field yet, build the bond out there first it will make it easier to catch her when times come when she has to come in.  When you bring her in, create the safe space in the stable and give her a reason to come in.  I would not use food, make bonding times different to when you feed. 

Enjoy your time with her, if you are doing something that feels like pressure to you, then she will feel it more which creates a potential for problems. Happy calm owners = Happy calm horses ;) 

Look forward to hearing more of how you get on :D


Miriam (Holland&Germany)
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed 600 lessons completed 650 lessons completed
Hi C.King,
Welcome to the forum!
Adding to Mel's wonderful advice, I'd like you to think like a horse, your horse....
She came to a new place, meeting new horses, new people. Being a herd animal this is a hard time on her. Everything in unknown, who's the lead-mare around here, all these things matter to horses. She needs a leader, you can become a trusted leader to her!
 Next picture I'd like you to see in your head is: Monty working with a horse he's never seen, it has never seen him, it's in a totally unknown setting like an arena with hundreds of people around it. This is what Monty does during his demo's on tour. Still he is able to build trust with every single horse he meets, doing Join-Up and showing the horse he can read its bodylanguage and knows how to answer in the same silent language. His timing, his movements, his direction of movement tells the horse that this man can be trusted. 
Of course you cannot expect to create the trust you're looking for as fast as Monty is able to do after a lifetime of learning. But sometimes it's good to have a goal to work towards!
Keep these images in mind when you give your horse time to settle in her new surroundings and try to find out what it is she likes! Maybe she likes being groomed, scratched at the withers, most horses do....They do it to eachother, mutual grooming.
When you do something with her that she likes, you'll find yourself relaxing too.
Now you have a win-win situation. You can build up from there. Any time you come to a point where she shows tension, you can always come back to where she could relax.
Even when you're riding you can use this simple way to show her that everything is OK, just some rubbing in front of the saddle, breathing out, might take the tension away.
 You've just started a very interesting journey with this mare, the learning never ends. Take small steps and don't expect to solve everything at once. You're both learning and also getting to know eachother. This can be the beginning of a long, beautiful relationship. Let it grow!
Have fun, let your horse have fun and please keep us posted!

Thank you so much for your reassuring words Mel and Miriam... it really helps. I felt really low today.. I think I'd imagined I'd get her and be cantering off into the sunset without a care in the world. Also I live in North Yorkshire in the U.K. where there's a lot of traditional views on horsemanship.. 'you've got to show em who's boss and if they don't listen you give them a whack.. attitude...which just isn't me. So it's great hearing from people with the same holistic approach. 
Tomorrow is a fresh day and I'm going to take both your advice and just start trying to enjoy being with her more with no pressures. 
Catherine 😊
Please upload your photo 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed 600 lessons completed 650 lessons completed
m Catherine & welcome to the Uni. You are embarking on a potentially wonderful journey that will last a very long time. You have a partner on this journey - and you will benefit greatly if you take the time and trouble to become her trusted friend as well as her leader. You can jump on a motorcycle & go. There are horses you can jump on & go too, but unless they trust you it's not a partnership & the relationship can be so much more. Learn to take your cues from her. She will 'speak' to you - if you show her you are willing to listen.  You can learn how to achieve that by studying Monty's methods, getting the tools to build a truely unique bond between you & your mare. Time is a greatly underrated commodity these days. Patience is also underrated. Being calm, clear & consistent. Teach her to walk with you, to trust that your decisions are safe. My summer field has a high, thick hedge between it & the road. On the eastern corner there is a T junction & one Sunday morning, whilst I was with the ponies, a car crashed into the wall opposite the junction. They heard the crash & bolted, running past me. I couldn't see the crash for the hedge but I turned to see where the ponies were. They were lined up, facing where the sound had come from, about 15 feet behind me. Whatever monster was over that hedge they trusted me to deal with it, albeit also leaving enough space for them to flee if that was necessary. Monty gives us all a roadmap to guide us, but it is for each of us to understand & meet the needs of each individual horse, to adapt & be flexible in our appreciation of their understanding. Max came to me from a really rural part of Scotland & was very wary of traffic. Together we conquered his fears. It took time & trust but now Max is fully confident in even heavy traffic, whether I'm walking with him or on his back. Good luck with your mare & keep us updated. Cheers, Jo.
Mel - Ramsgate UK
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed
Hi Catherine

Be assured we have all had deep feelings about the traditional dominance over horses issue, most of us have been exactly where you are now with lots of advice which does not feel right. Always remember if it does not feel right to you, then it is not right and to look for another way. This is what started Monty on his path of nonviolent training and why he is still at 82 creating ways for partnerships with horses.

I am at Uni at the moment for horses and I hate the traditional methods of how people are taught to handle the horses, there is no connection, horses are expected to comply no matter what as I have been told many times 'it is their job they have to do it'  The horses payment for 'their job' is to be stabled 22 hours a day with 2 hours turn out if the ground is dry enough, otherwise it is a walker, schooling, and students around them from 9am-5pm with an hours break for lunch, then some have evening riding lessons. When students are in the stables the horses have to be tied up constantly whilst students learn the same things over and over again.  Not a life for an animal that was designed to travel miles a day in freedom.   The attitude is that it is the accepted method so it is alright to do, be it causes behaviour issues, stable issues and sad horses. 

I am much happier with freedom and work with the horse in a partnership, which teaches many life skills for us too :D

Are you able to get to one of the UK Demonstrations in October or November? 


Thanks Jo and Mel for your advice and kind words.
It is good to hear that you've both felt the same as how I'm feeling now but with patience and time you've made successful partnerships with your horses. 

I'm still feeling the same.. a bit useless.. and I'm sure she looks at me sometimes thinking why have I got landed with her! 😂 but I'm forcing myself to make sure I'm doing something with her every day. She hates coming out of her field but however tempted I am to leave her in there! I feel I need to get her out every day so that she builds up the trust that I'll always bring her back to her field. 
I walk round the block with her or do some simply school work and I always finish off the session with a nice groom and some food. I hope we both start enjoying it soon. 🤞🏼

I had a very symbolic dream last night that we were climbing up a mountain together and I was worried she wouldn't get up but she did and it was a really nice ride so I'm thinking that's a good sign. 
Mel, I did look at coming up to Richmond but not sure with children and money etc.. hopefully I will be able to make it. 
Thanks again
Mel - Ramsgate UK
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed
Hi Catherine

I know what you mean with children and money lol, I do hope you make it. When you get to meet Monty remember to let him know you are on his online uni ; )

 A little secret I came across with horses, they actually choose to be with us and it is my belief that they see something in us that we can offer them, but more importantly they wish to help us. Each time I am in a situation that I am thinking 'why on earth am I still at this place'  a horse comes into my life that needs my help and I always learn from them. Might I suggest that one day instead of taking her out of the field, stay in the field with her for a few hours, have a drink with you and sit on the floor and relax being aware to where she is. No mobiles ;)  and see what happens. When I work with new horses sitting nearby and being quiet in mind has an amazing effect on the relationship with the horse and allows us to help clear our minds of the stresses outside of the field. Maybe think about your dream and why it came to you. 

Remember trust is not always about the routine you build, but knowing that you are there for each other. 

Keep us updated, love hearing progress :D