I am the first to be critical of Natural Horsemanship. It’s nothing specific to Natural Horsemanship, actually – I’m critical of gadgetry, in general, and that includes patented horse-poking sticks, 12-volume DVD sets on loading horses into trailers, and sponsorship deals with expensive feed supplements. (Not to say that I would not do anything of these things if the opportunity arose. I’m just jealous someone else thought of it first. My best gimmick is giving away my writing for free on a blog, so clearly I have some Get Rich Quick seminars to attend.)
But here’s what I love, and here’s what I’ll stand by: Join-Up is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Scratch that, since bread. (I prefer bread by the artisanal, yuppie loaf – unsliced.)
I’ve written about Join-Up before, and if you were with me at Union Square Stables, you may recall I used it with amazing success with my naughty yearlings last year. And at the very beginning of Retired Racehorse, Final Call revealed his lover-personality by embracing Join-Up and climbing all over me in the round pen.
Well, I had another goosebumps moment with Join-Up yesterday, and it reminded me of all the other times that a horse has come creeping up behind me and placed his tickly little muzzle into my ponytail.
It was madly hot yesterday, as documented on Facebook, also known as the Place Where I Whine About Heat, Drought, Rain, Sunshine, and Shadow. I fully admit that it’s Florida in the summertime, and I live in a shallow bowl of goop known as the Green Swamp, and it is my own damn fault, no one twisted my arm, etc. etc. But yesterday really was insanely hot, and I imagine it’s a trending topic on Twitter, something like #FLofficiallynotfitforhumanlife or #FLIHATEU, something to that effect. And it was noon before I could get to the yearlings, who needed to go for a jog in the round pen.
Which made the moment all the more precious, when my chestnut previously known as the Very Bad Colt stopped banging around the round pen, substituting “jog” with the more entertaining “spin-buck-gallop-spin,” and instead trotted around and around, dropped his head to the ground, stuck out his tongue, and all but begged to be let inside the circle. I turned, I looked away, I examined a bug in the grass, and whoosh, there was his breath on my neck, and his whiskers on my cheek. Favorite son, you make me feel fantastic.
A big thanks to Monty Roberts, and the simple directions for Join-Up in the appendix to The Man Who Listens to Horses. I don’t own his patented halter, and I don’t feed his supplements, and I don’t want to attend his university. But Join-Up is a game-changer.