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Horse Care and Comfort

Dually Halter for a spooky mare?

Hello! 100 lessons completed
I volunteer at an equine assisted therapy facility, and recently I was asked to work with one of the mares.
She was trained up for a show-jumping career, but had an issue with her cannon bone that meant that the jumping and all the training for it hurt her. So she was adopted into an equine therapy program as a therapy horse. She's sensitive and "spooky".
Her spooking, bolting, and anxious behaviors have pushed people away from working with her. That, combined with another injury a few months ago, caused behavioral changes that didn't go away even after she recovered from the injury. (aggression, isolating herself from the herd, even more spooking etc). Which then meant even less people wanted to work with her. 
Medically, she's OK. Mentally, and emotionally? Nope.
That's where I come in. I volunteer 3-4 times a week, sometimes 6, and when horses have a training program, sometimes I'm asked to take it on. Which is the case here. I'm assigned to help this mare every day until she's feeling better.

I'm currently 2 weeks into working with her and here's the status:
1 At this barn they use treat training, and the response with treats is- she fixes on the food, and blocks out everything else. She also gets more excited and I didn't think those bursts of sporadic energy would help her stay calm and focused. So I've taken out the treats for our sessions. She's not a fan of that.
 2- She's more relaxed, she tunes into my cues better, and basics like grooming and hooves are going much faster. *she is frightened of curry combs, among other things*. 
3. Handling is easier, she's moving her feet willingly, she's doing Join-Up at least once a session now and we always end on a good note.
4 We still get spooky behaviors but nothing to a level 10 so far. I've kept it lowkey and slow, so that's no surprise. The first two weeks have been a lot of trust-building and testing to see just how spooky she is and some of her triggers. *She is afraid of curry combs, as one example*.
5-  She is starting to socialize more with the herd and she comes willingly into the arena to work.  2 weeks ago, she did not. Now she does. I had to pull her out today because she wanted to stay in the arena. Progress.

In theory I'm supposed to use Parelli games/treats with her, but my gut instinct is that it's not right for her. So I'm looking for inspiration here. Monty's program looks to be excellent and might be just what we need, though I'm not too confident in myself in using it, because I'm a beginner to Join-Up...
 I suspect the Dually halter might help her, combined with the groundwork and desensitization we're doing already. But I'm a beginner to this and maybe there's something else we should work at first?
-Are there any lessons here that might be helpful to Sunny and I? If so, can you tell me the title so I can find it? If you've had success with a case like this I'd love to hear about that too.
-I've also been SO curious about the Dually halter. If it's worked for you I'd love to hear about it.
JoHewittVINTA
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Hi MamaBear & welcome to the Uni. You will find a whole world of invaluable information here - I have successfully raised two homebreds using Monty's methods. The first I started under saddle myself. Kirk has never shown any negativity towards carrying a rider. Holy Moley was successfully started under saddle by Monty himself on his last UK tour. The Dually halter is an invaluable tool. However, like any equipment it is only as effective as the hands using it. It is vital to understand Monty's concepts, to control your emotions, use your body language correctly, be accepting that you can only ever proceed at the pace the horse you are dealing with dictates ( which will vary daily ) & that, as horses only respond by instinct or by stimuli given to them by us then WE are always responsible, no matter what happens. The horse is never to blame as, no matter whether they choose to trust us or not, they did NOT CHOOSE their situation. Using the Dually & Monty's concepts I have gained the most wonderful relationship with my equine friends. They are intelligent, full of confidence, great characters & have a wonderful sense of humour. Unfortunately, not all horses have had the benefit of an understanding owner. You have the opportunity to educate yourself to the incredible benefit of horses in need. I wish you great success in that endeavour. Cheers, Jo.
Elleise Valencia
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Hi MamaBear!
 
             Yes, welcome to EQUUS Online University! Mr. Roberts methods truly saved my horses lives. I'm so grateful for this university and I hope you will find it encouraging, insightful, rewarding and most of all fun for you and Sunny.
 
             Six years ago I was gifted with my first horse and I was very green with little to no experience training horses. I saw Mr. Roberts Join-Up with a very abused and afraid horse on TV and knew immediately that the relationship he received with that horse was the one I wanted with my new horse. 
 
             I'm familiar with Pat Parelli's games and treat training because both of those methods were tried on my horse where she was formerly boarded and, similar to Sunny, my horse became mouthy and anxious for the treat instead of learning the desired behavior. With Parelli games, my horse was very confused and the trainer got exasperated with her and the relationship I had dreamed of obtaining with her looked farther away rather than closer to achieving. 
 
             I now have a place for my horse at home and for five years my horse and I have been able to explore Mr. Roberts principles. Because she was a very confident, friendly horse, I started with mostly Dually work. The lesson videos I mainly studied the principles of were, Dually Halter, a Course on Leading Your Horse, Dually Dance with Chris Morris, Dually Halter: The Four steps. 
 
            I want to first stress that allowing time for the principals to stick in you is critical. A lot of situations arose where there were no videos available at the time for me to refer to. Learn P.I.C.N.I.C., advance and retreat, don’t forget to reward with lots of praise and rubs. Incremental learning is key. If your horse starts to panic about the next step, go back to the step you two were just at. Transformation will come. I’m by far not an expert, Mr. Roberts says “There is no such thing as teaching, only learning.” I’m sharing from my experience and what has helped me and my horse have a highly communicative and sweet relationship.
 
            My second horse, Legacy, I received the following year. She was leery of connecting with humans and was afraid of any new objects. It would take hours to get a halter off of her or to put it back on. I referred to the Uni Lessons titled: Catching Your Horse in The Pasture. EQUUS now has many more how-to-catch-a- hard- to-catch-horse videos and I encourage you to view them all because the mindset and behavior presented in those lessons are invaluable and can come in handy in many different situations, at least from my experience. Coming in and rubbing your horse on the withers and then turning and walking away a few steps, this is what I mean by advance and retreat. You are establishing that you are not being predatorial at this time. You can also introduce a new object like this, such as plastic bags...or the curry comb 😉. Legacy was afraid of my brushes and curry too. I couldn’t brush her face for a few grooming sessions. I just incrementally stroked the brush on her neck—then walked away, repeat, until she now likes the brush all over her face. To know how to introduce an object, I was helped by Introducing the Farrier: Lessons two and seven. There are also some very helpful desensitization lessons in Monty’s Tour Demonstrations section that reinforce this method. It’s a big section to get through but I was more confident once I got through them, I hope your experience will be the same. To conclude Legacy’s story, she now loves people and getting attention from them. She’s also not as spooky of many objects and can be haltered in under a minute often times.
 
            You seem to be doing a good job of identifying what Sunny needs, improvements and difficulties. If Sunny seems a bit pushy, the Spooky Kadina Chronicles lessons might be a help to you too.  
 
            I also want to recommend Mr. Roberts certified instructors. They are always willing to help and are friendly. I’ve become very good friends with one of his instructors and consider her my mentor. If you have an instructor in your state/country or have looked at their names and write ups on Mr. Roberts website, I highly recommend you reaching out to one or a few of them. They offer Join-Up and Horsemanship courses that might be closer in distance travel wise than going all the way to California. With instructors courses, you can have hands-on practice with long-lining and Join-Up to help establish more confidence. I attended a horsemanship 101 course hosted by one of his instructors and was able to practice Join-Up and long-lining on very safe, veteran in Mr. Roberts ways, horses. If you can attend the courses at Flag is Up Farms, fantastic!
 
            Mr. Roberts Textbook, From My Hands to Yours, is also a fabulous way to gain lots of help with ingraining his principles faster and building confidence and relationship with people and horses. Kelly Marks (one of the leaders in Mr. Roberts certified instructors program) has three great books. Two of them (Perfect Manners and Perfect Partners) helped me a lot. Her writing and teaching style is very relatable and practical, much like Mr. Roberts’s. 
 
            Hopefully these ideas will help you with Sunny and is a helpful way to introduce you to the wealth of Mr. Roberts legacy. Again, these are books, lessons, and people that helped me. I’m still very green and am still learning so much from Mr. Roberts university and my horses. Assuredly, I am NO expert. Just a witness that this method really does work. It’s not just a method even I might add. It’s a mindset and a way of life. “Violence is never the answer.” (Monty Roberts). I can truly say that what might have taken hours or even years to accomplish with my horses, took minutes in the end, using this non-violent, respectful approach. I have even used his methods on horses not my own and they have responded beautifully. Trust is key. The horses know when you are trying to communicate in their language. They will answer you when you get it right. I just want to tell you another one of Mr. Roberts fine quotes “Slow is fast. Fast is slow.” If you act like you only have a few minutes, it will take a long time to accomplish a skill with the horse you are working with but if you go at it like you have all day then, chances are, it will only take you a few minutes to get the job done. It’s backwards from what my initial reaction was, but that’s how horses respond to our adrenaline. Patience and timing is key. Quality time is excellent too. Just haltering and petting your horse for whatever time you have really increases bonding and strengthens relationship. May you go far and have fun with Sunny. Most importantly, I hope Sunny has fun too 😊. 
 
Much encouragement,
 
Elleise Valencia