A Colt Comes Creeping Up Behind Me. Goosebumps.

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.

Try it.



Filed under Training Diary, Training Theory

11 responses to “A Colt Comes Creeping Up Behind Me. Goosebumps.

  1. So true! I’m one to avoid that stuff too, but if you look beyond the equipment and DVD sets and (admittedly) marketing genius, the basic techniques of natural horsemanship are fantastic. There’s a lot to be said for learning to communicate with your horse in his language and doing exercises that facilitate the relationship as well as learning.

    I come from a very traditional hunter/jumper background, but the friends with whom I kept Ace when I first got him are big into the natural horsemanship. They taught me the “games” and techniques, which felt very natural to me (excuse the pun) because ultimately it was just good horsemanship put into a very tangible system. As a result, Ace and I have a great working relationship on the ground and under saddle.

    I actually got the overview on Join-Up theory from Monty Roberts’ daughter herself (who is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet). Thinking maybe I need to check it out a little more.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      I totally agree.. And if people want to play games with their horses, who am I to argue with that? Most of these games are common sense horsemanship that anyone would acquire after a few decades with horses…

      It’s just the marketing that scares me, I suppose. The Wonder Drug approach – We can fix your problems! With out help, you can do Anything!

      Not necessarily…. I wouldn’t say every novice horseman can do all these things without competent person-to-person instruction. I’ve seen some foolish things…

      But I will say I have no problems with Monty Roberts. I watch him on TV. We do a lot of the same things with our horses. He’s got a good sense of humor. And he knows fine fine Thoroughbreds!

  2. Ugh, Florida in the summertime. Where you walk out the front door and feel like you’ve been body slammed by the atmosphere.

    I haven’t seen much of the join-up, maybe I’ll have to peruse youtube for a while and do a little learnin’.

    PS- your boy is adorable.

  3. Barb

    Join up is how Vince and I got on the same page, (finally!), although it took awhile, and I’m sure it was the foundation of our partnership. We don’t participate in their marketing, though.

  4. Pretty cool:) You may just have convinced me to give it a look! Maybe he’s got his method on audio book…like I said before, I’m a sucker for that voice!

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      I know for a fact “The Man Who Listens to Horses” was published via audio book – BUT what I don’t know is whether or not the appendix that explains how to do Join-Up is on the recording.

      You’re a strange, strange girl, btw. 😉

  5. Fantastic commentary. And I know what you mean about join up. I did it once and was amazed. It makes me go all mushy inside.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Thanks for the comment. Only once? I find it addictive. Come to me, pony….

      And that feeling of whiskers on your neck? Well. That sounds a bit odd. But it’s TRUE.

  6. I think the best things I’ve gotten from all the various natural horsemanship camps is the concept (which should have been obvious, I know) that horses are different from one another so what works with one may not work with another and paying attention is really the key.

    Bar and Lena say, “duh.”

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