One of the horse’s I’ve ridden and watched closely while here in South Africa is a piebald mare rising four years old, who was backed (put under saddle) last November. Partly her temperament and breeding can be attributed to this responsive young animal. The other instigator? The backing method here is along the lines of Monty Robert’s classic ‘Join Up’.
I was curious to hear this as for my next adventure, I want to be just above Australia; helping out at Tiwi College and helping with 2,000 or so wild horses on the islands. The man I know linked in with the Tiwi College plans has informed me they use the Monty Roberts’ method for young people from broken homes so suddenly this way of doing things has my attention twofold.
I commented how I was disappointed that I couldn’t see this process carried out before I went home from South Africa and suddenly the proprietor was on the phone to friends and days later, we had two mares about 3 years of age, barely handled to practice Join Up with.
Four days into the process (working with each mare for about an hour each day) and we have been on the chestnut mare twice, having her happily walk and trot around under saddle with a rider in the saddle. The bay mare we started under saddle today and she took things well.
It has been amazing to see all the signs these gorgeous animals give off in regards to body language and submission. Sometimes it’s very subtle, other times it’s as if their whole body is shouting, “please, let me be friends. I’d rather be with you than away.”
Now both have been amazingly quiet in accepting the saddle, but just so you know – it took hours to get a head collar on both mares and a long time to get them into a lunging ring to be able to start the process. Oh, and the bay mare loves to bite – anything within her reach and the ears go flat back and the teeth are bared – she is obviously the dominant one of the pair. And go figure, only by asking have we been able to get a saddle on her so quickly. Amazing.
“It is easier to attach reins to a freight train and practice pulling to a halt than it is to slow down some of our horses.”