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My Join-Up® Experience

join up or where now with nervous horse?


ive had pluto for 2 and a half months.he is 3. when he arrived, he was gelded on the same day, so had a traumatic day, and was very thin. Until then he had lived wild in a group of 4 colts, with little human contact. i was told that he had been in a stable before, and been lead, but a while ago. since ive had him, im starting to think that his only experience with people has been being pushed and shoved from one place to the next, and im unsure as to whether he had also experienced mis treatment. when he arrived i decided to feed him twice a day, as he needed it, and as a point of contact for us. The first week or so i couldnt get within 2 meters of him when he was eating or just in the feild, i worked gradually using montys methods until the first big step for him which was to take a carrot from my hand,then i started to give his feed while holding the bucket, until i was able to stroke his nose. we have progressed like this and now i am able to stroke him all down his neck and whithers and have even removed a thorn (litraly!) from his side (lower stomach area) i can also gently untangle his mane when he is eating his food or grass, so he has given so much already,and is tranformed in weight and well being. maybe twice he has trotted 'at' me, not with ears back, but felt slightly threatening.i dont know if this is him being a young horseor is a threat, yesterday i introduced a soft brush, which he was ok with, but as he walked away the i kept the brush on him to a point on his body nearer his behind than i had dared to sroke with my hand, and he quickly turned his back end to me as if to kick, but didnt. this is the first time this has happened and it had knocked my confidence a bit. i think it was because i was moving too fast as all had been going so well for the week until this point, also there had been builders digging the road next to his field and i thimk he was a bit more spooky than usual. would anyone have any advise or have had a similar experience? also would be usefull to hear whether you guys think i should carry on how i am with him, prehaps introducing a 'stuffed glove' on a stick to get him used to being touched on his back end from a safe distance until hes really at ease with it like he is with his neck and shoulders, or to do join up? any advice appriciated! hope the message isnt too long and confusing!
thanks, daisy

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 Daisy,
Congratulations on what you achieved so far with Pluto!
From this point I think you should do Join-up, maybe a few more, and start Dually work with him. You suggested a stick, try one with plastic shoppingbags tagged to one end and desensitize him to the extend that he accepts it on his hindquarters. An "artificial arm" would be the next step.
Important is that you keep your adrenalin down, this way you show him that he can extend his trust to the actions you have in mind for him.
When you worked towards his hindquarters with your hand and he reacted in a threatening way, he felt your adrenalin go up, it made you insecure.
Try to work in a safe way, so you know you don't take any risks, he'll thank you for it by allowing you where he didn't let you in before.
I think you have a good sense of where you can go, trust yourself and trust Pluto to trust you!
Keep us posted on how you are doing,


Thanks Miriam
we had a great 'session' this morning. it was transforming to concentrate on keeping my energy down, which i always of course try to do but i guess easy to become complacent of its importance when things are going well. the next step will be to do join-up, which will be a big achievment for both of us! i am so proud of plutos bravery in trusting me thus far, he really has given so much in a relativly short space of time. i have a dually halter, and wonder whether to use it straight away after achieving join up? thanks for your post and i will update his progress for anyone whos interested,or may be going through a similar process with their horse.

Please upload your photo

Hi Miriam
I searched around to find where you might be responding... am not really great with how this all works. Here is the link to my daughters paraequestrian ride that was covered by our local television and then went national in Canada. It is worth looking at.

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 Rainy,
I'm deeply touched by what she achieved and by how you and your daughter are able to comunicate and make a positive experience out of a difficulty that must have been life-changing for you!
Thank you for sharing this video with us, I want you to know that I feel a deep respect for the love and hard work that made it all possible.
Searching in this forum is not always easy, I agree. If you want to make sure your post is seen, make it a new one, so it comes on top.
Will you please keep us posted on your daughter's development, you're a example for us all!

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 Daisy,
So the two of you are on your way to become a real team now!
The Duallyhalter can be used right after your Join-up, deepening the trust you build up when he comes to you of his own free choice. Make it comfortable to be with you and uncomfortable to be away from you, so it'll his idea to want to stay close to you.
Secure your own personal space by showing him the safety distance you want between the horse and you. Having his nose at your shoulder when leading can become a sweetspot, so he'll learn where he's safe.
Let us know how things go,

MaggieF, Melbourne - Australia
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed

Hi Daisy - Pluto is still very young and you have made amazing progress. I am pleased that you also use carrots - I find they are a great training incentive yet frowned upon by many including Monty. When training my young mare I always carried carrot rewards for her for good behaviour and progress. Chopped up into 1.5 centermetre bits and carried in my pockets or bumb bag. It is important though to keep Pluto from "looking" for them and to gain his respect as well as his trust. At this early stage I think gaining his trust is perhaps the most important thing. Assuming you have a round pen or small yard then I would try join up as suggested as it is time for this. However I would not try to put the dually on him at this early stage unless he has been effectively halter trained in the past. The weight of the dually and all the metal rings on it does make it a bit cumbersome and imtimidating when first handling a young horse that is a bit nervous. I know Monty does it but that is Monty!! I prefer to use a simple light rope halter initially and when your horse is used to this then introduce the dually. Even now I often put the rope halter on first and then the dually over the top of the rope halter and slip the rope halter off under the dually. This is to stop my horse pulling away as I manoeuvre the dually into place. The dually is great for training but it is a little awkward to put on and adjust. So my advice would be yes do join up and follow up and once this is achieved put on a rope halter and just lead your horse around the area giving your carrot rewards at appropriate times. End of lesson! Slowly, slowly now to build up trust and confidence in you both and try not to do too much in any one lesson. Achieve what you have set out to do then end of lesson. Nothing too complex or difficult at this stage! Next few lessons I would again just use the rope halter, stroke head neck and shoulders and wherever you can reach safely. Slowly progress to asking your horse to back away from you and then come forwards to you. After a number of lessons I would introduce a wand or artificial arm slowly. In itially use the wand or arm to stroke the Pluto's body parts which you have previously been stroking with your hand. Slowly progress to stroking his back and legs with the wand or artificial arm - this could take a couple of lessons. (I prefer a wand as it is less intimidating than the arm for a young nervous horse). Remember to always lower the wand or arm and take it away from Pluto as soon as he appears a little fearful and then slowly bring it back again. I would also start a bit of relatively gentle lunging on the rope halter with the wand as an aid - nothing too intimidating just walk and trot. After numerous lessons and once Pluto and you are confident and trusting each other then you may introduce the dually halter and progress further. At this stage he should be moving around willingly with you on the rope halter, backwards, forwards, doing some introductory single line lunging and allowing you to stroke him all over. (Apologies Monty but double line lunging seems too complicated for me at this early stage and I would only introduce it later.) I WOULD NOT introduce a wand and plastic bags at this early stage as they will invariably spook your horse somewhat and you may well lose the trust and confidence you are building up. That can come much, much later!! Initially just use the dually for leading, backing up, respect etc. In other words re do what you have already done with the rope halter but now you have a stronger correction mechanism for the errors and you can be a little more forceful. You may start trotting him with the dually, you may also now wish to repeat your join-up lesson. Once this is all achieved you may then wish to introduce some spooky objects but still NOT the plastic bags. Maybe just dropping your hat on the ground or removing a jumper and dropping it down - all very low key stuff!!! Do you intend to break in Pluto yourself or send him out once you have achieved his initial quietening?

Good luck with it and let us know how you progress