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My Join-Up® Experience

Frustrated Join Up


My horse is spooky and hates to be near people.
He has joined up reluctantly four times in the round yard and followed up also.
In the paddock however I cant catch him... not even get near him.
What am I doing wrong? Suggestions welcome!!


With my mare, who's only real interaction with people was when her baby was born when she was about 3, so she had no real love for people when I came along when she was 5. We started with leaving a well fitted halter on her for a couple of weeks. First I went out to the field and I would just hang out with her. I had no expectations of catching her, a hard thing to do when I live over an hour and a half away from her.

After I did the join up in the round pen I would go out in the field and again try and have no expectation of catching her. I would keep my eyes off of her, if I did look at her it was at her hooves. I would do the arcs around in her area and rub other horses if they came to see me. Once or twice I would put a halter on one or two and then take it back off. I would try not to look the other horses in the eyes. When she did come up to me I would pet her and do the follow up in the pasture. When I finally caught her I took her halter off after I worked with her. The work was sometimes just bonding or grooming, and sometimes it was doing some of the desensitization training like Monty shows with Spooky kandia.

The next time I went into the pasture I had a halter with a under the throat clip so that after doing the fallow up game I was able to slip the halter over her head, as she was shy of me going over her neck. I rubbed her head and let her follow me and took the halter back off. You should have seen her face. She was so shocked. We did the follow up some more and then I put the halter back on and I walked to the gate to go get the lead. She thought about it for a minute and then followed me over. I have not had an issue catching her sense. She even waits for me at the gate half the time.

We are still working on desensitizing her back feet so I can pick them up safely and so she will be ready for the farrier. I have only been on her once but she was totally okay with it. I am so proud of her. We have been working with the plastic bag on the stick and every time we work on something that she is a little spooky about I find it is easier for me to catch her.

The interesting thing is it is not just easier for me to catch her it is also easier for my husband, who knows almost nothing about horses, to catch her.

I guess this long missive is to say that the more you work with your horse and his fears that are making him spooky the more he is going to see you as trust worthy and a fun/happy person to be with. It will take some time but not nearly as much time as you think. I have accomplished all that you read about above in maybe 6 days spread over two months because I only get to see my mare on the weekends and I was sick in bed for at least three weeks straight. I would not believe that it was possible to have accomplished so much if I had not been there myself.

Do you know why your horse is so spooky of people? That can help you. Kushi was never hurt, She was just never worked with accept when it came to her foal and that is tramatic far any mare, especially one so young. If your horse was ever hurt it may take longer to make the breakthroughs you are looking for.

Remember to take deep breathes and do not expect to much of yourself to soon. Monty has worked with over 1000's of horses. If you are like me you are just starting with this method and the fact that you got your spooky horse to join up with you is huge. *Hugs*

I hope that I have offered some help as well as some hope.



Thanks for you advice Ekat. My horse didn't see a human until the age of 2 and was broken in by an abusive old style stockman. I believe that this is the reason he doesn't like people. I have isolated him from my other horse in the hope that he will bond quicker with me.

Kathy Z

I adopted a mustang last May - gentled but not broke. I did not have a decent round pen, but made do with the portable pen pieces. It was more oblong, full of grass, and less than 30 feet across. I didn't get a great join up, but I worked with her on an almost daily basis, despite the half hour ride each way to the stable. I walked her, groomed her, picked up her feet (thank God for the person who gentled her!), and talked to her the whole time. When she was put into the large field with three other mares after about 10 days, I was afraid that i would not be able to catch her, but the join up, weak as it was, and the time I spent with her, paid off. The very first time I went out into the field, she came right to me! As time has passed, and she has been adopted by one of the older mares, she sometimes turns away from me and walks away. I ignore her for a few minutes, petting one of the other horses, and then pass in front of her, averting my eyes. In one or two passes, she usually comes right to me. If she doesn't, she at least will allow me to approach her and put the halter on. When the other mare is not being protective (she tries to separate me from my girl), Nikki will follow me without any prompting. I guess what I am trying to say is give it time. Be gentle and consistent. It will work.

Hello! 100 lessons completed

You can do a version of Join-Up out in the pasture. If he goes away from you, then send him away - a lot. Don't let him stop to graze or eat hay, etc. Send him away until you get the "four signs", then stop and turn away so he can come to you - just like Join Up. Then don't bring him in to work, just spent some quality time and then walk away. Make sure you go out just to see him more often than you go out to catch him to bring him in for work.
Good luck!