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Can we have a NON-TRAINWRECK discussion about Monty Roberts?

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  • Can we have a NON-TRAINWRECK discussion about Monty Roberts?

    I keep seeing his show on RFDTV. I'm sorry, I like it. He seems to consistently back youngsters with little difficulty. The horses seem ok with it. I like the fact that he only asks them to walk once backed. It's just a good experience, from what I can see. For everyone.

    I also very much like his philosophy of training without violence. This does not mean I'm walking up to a striking, rearing stallion and saying, "Let's Join Up" ... But ... tell me. PLEASE. SOMEBODY. Am I missing something?

    And please, let's not call each other names, lets not group ALL NH together, etc. etc. Let's just have a polite discussion. This doesn't mean everyone has to agree!!! But if you can't be ... nice ... don't ruin it for everyon else. Please.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

  • #2
    I saw him a few years ago, and was looking forward to it. His book was interesting; when I heard he was coming to town I bought a ticket.

    The first few horses that he worked with responded much the same way as other horses that are round-penned and exposed to NH techniques. However, the fourth horse is what made me furious.

    This gelding had gone into a severe bucking fit that caused his (inexperienced) owner to get hurt. She was given the microphone and went into tremendous detail about the extent of her injuries. She also took advantage of her mic time to give extensive background on the horse. "He was supposed to be a family-safe horse that I could trail ride and teach the kids basic riding skills. His last owner said he never did anything like this! He was perfect when we bought him!"

    The gelding was asked to w/t/c in the round pen in both directions. No problems; no bucking; no refusing. MR then put "Herman the German" on the gelding, which is a child-sized stuffed dummy. The horse was perfect at all gaits in both directions.

    Then they put a racing saddle on him, and Jason, MR's assistant, mounted. Jason is a professional bareback rider. The gelding proceeded to w/t with no problems, but as soon as he was asked for the canter, sure enough, he bucked. In both directions, but worse to the right, from what I recall.

    MR solution to this was to put a "bucking string" on the horse, which consisted of a thin rope that went between his upper lip and gum. It was attached in some fashion so that if the horse dropped his head to buck, the rope would "bite" into his gums and cause pain. Jason gets back on; w/t is perfect; canter gets ugly. The horse started to drop his head to buck, hit the string, and came back up quickly. He soon learned not to buck, or else he had pain in his mouth. His canter was unbalanced, and he was really scrambling to keep his balance. None of this managed to solicit a comment from MR. But he didn't buck any more.

    The owner was thrilled to tears. MR had fixed her horse! He did tell her that she needed to work with a trainer at home, and not attempt to ride the horse until he was more predictable.

    At no time was it mentioned if the horse had seen a vet or chiro to see if the bucking was pain related. IMO, if the horse is fine with little to no weight on his back at the canter, then you add weight and he bucks, well, maybe his back HURTS. Maybe a nerve is being pinched. Maybe something is wrong when weight is added. DUH...

    So right then and there I lost any desire to ever see or hear or attend anything associated with MR. My belief is to rule out the physical issues first, then go to a training issue. It seemed as though the horse had to choose between pain in the mouth versus pain in the back.

    While he may have some value in some areas of what he offers, I certainly don't think much of him as a total "horseman." He certainly wasn't thinking of the horse's well-being and welfare in this case.
    Barbara www.customstockties.com
    Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Oldenburg Mom View Post
      I keep seeing his show on RFDTV. I'm sorry, I like it. He seems to consistently back youngsters with little difficulty. .
      Good video editors are worth their weight in gold...
      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've always liked Monty Roberts. Just good plain honest horsemanship.

        I found a couple of Monty Roberts videos on youtube in case anyone's interested.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC_15...elated&search=
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGsOV_eOYXk

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ghazzu View Post
          Good video editors are worth their weight in gold...
          ditto.

          I'm a strong advocate for Natural Horsemanship, just not Monty Roberts.

          Comment


          • #6
            Huuuuge caveat: I don't have cable and have never seen the show. However, I did like his book and I have a sense that the NH people have given him a hard time over not very much.

            I don't like ANY of the NH gurus all that much, but I'd give him just as much credence as any of 'em...
            "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

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            • #7
              Mark Rashid is my favorite of the NH gurus. Love his books.

              I would agree; a lot of editing goes on in those vids.
              *** 4 More Years ***
              *** 4 More Years ***

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              • #8
                Most of the NH people have things I like and things I don't particularly like or that don't work necessarily on every horse. You just take what you like and use that.

                There are a lot of trainers in every discipline (dressage, jumping, racing, whatever) that do things that make my hair curl. But they win and people think they are WONDERFUL. I just decline to use their methods.
                Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Rt66Kix,

                  It's so funny you mention the string. Because it was used on one of my horses. Now, to be fair, my horse had been checked out by the vet pretty extensively, including x-rays. This was a training issue. Compared to what I've seen by others, this was a simple, easy solution to a potentially difficult and dangerous situation. PLUS, you could not get more "non-pain" than the "buck-stop" (that's what we called it.) It was a piece of bailing twine, underneath the top lip and was LOOSELY tied to a loop around the ears that was secured at the back of the saddle.

                  99.9999% it was no different than...I don't know, wearing a string around your wrist. BUT, if he went to buck, yes it hit him immediately in the gum. Ouch! But having seen this, and having worked through this difficulty, this was FAR less painful than a chain over the nose. FAR less. And he had the choice of what to do. And wisely, he chose NOT to buck. He did it once or twice in the beginning, and was finished. He never bucked again. Now, he still wore it ... for about three weeks/a month. But, that was it.

                  Ghazzu, I have a ton of respect for you. Your post implies that ... well, he (because it IS his name on all this stuff) intentionally attempts to paint a picture that may indeed not be accurate. I find it difficult to believe--and yes, I could be 100% wrong--that his system is just a question of clever editing. Ok, yes, I admit someone could sustain this image for many many years. But at what point do you stop and say, "He may just have something here." Or perhaps just, "I want to know more."

                  Triggspony ... why not Monty? I've watched quite a few on RFDTV and he appears to be someone who pushes his products the least. What is your opinion ...
                  "For God hates utterly
                  The bray of bragging tongues."
                  Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dalfan View Post
                    Mark Rashid is my favorite of the NH gurus. Love his books.
                    I audited one of his clinics a while back... he wouldn't let one rider proceed until checking out physical issues/saddle fit.

                    He worked with maybe six-seven riders for either two or all four days - quite remarkable to see the improvement from day to day.
                    Nevertheless, she persisted.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by summerhorse View Post
                      Most of the NH people have things I like and things I don't particularly like or that don't work necessarily on every horse. You just take what you like and use that.
                      I think this is a very good POV, and I agree with it whole heartedly. Take from this person, that person, and maybe just this one thing from that guy over there. Because it works for me (you...whatever.)

                      Isn't this what we all do with any trainer? We search for the trainer that is as close to our individual philosophy of animal care/training.

                      Mark Rashid ... who is he? What "school" is he.

                      BTW, I like Monty ... well, as much as I've seen and read. I do NOT like Parelli...he's a little crude for my taste And I don't like the Australian guy. If I were a horse I'd rip his lungs out for nag nag nagging with that stick he uses. ARGH!
                      "For God hates utterly
                      The bray of bragging tongues."
                      Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Many years ago Horse and Rider magazine had an expose type story about his book and quoted several people, some family members, that said plenty of what he wrote about in the book is not so, he invented it to make the story good.

                        He may be a good enough trainer, except that I think his timing is not as good as so many others in those RFD-TV programs I have seen, that are not that many.
                        I would say that he is about an average trainer, no more or less and maybe that is all he means to be.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TriggsPony View Post
                          ditto.

                          I'm a strong advocate for Natural Horsemanship, just not Monty Roberts.
                          Well, no matter how much - or how little - his videos are edited, the way I see it the proof is in the pudding. Back when I worked at a TB training farm (I must sound like a broken record starting so many posts like that, but I can't help it - I learned LOADS galloping and breaking TB's!) I was the "Head Baby Breaker" and we started every single baby the same way you see Monty doing it. Except for there was no Herman the German....instead I was the dummy
                          Out of ALL the babies we started - fillies, colts, and geldings - there was only one horse that was ever sent back, and it was a 3 1/2 y.o. unbroke TB that came from a hunter barn - go figure.

                          To show even further how well his methods worked, the trainer got the wonderful idea to host a GTOBA get together on the farm, and show everyone how to get a never before saddled filly, broke in 1 hour. Now, even being a Monty fan bthen, I sure had my doubts, but going step by step, in less then 1 hour we had the filly quietly walking, trotting, halting, backing up, and steering quite well under saddle. No editing necessary.

                          So yes, after seeing first hand how well his methods work, I give him two thumbs up.
                          The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!
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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                            I would say that he is about an average trainer, no more or less and maybe that is all he means to be.
                            What an interesting comment! Maybe indeed, that is all he means to be. I am surprised, however, that anyone would call him average. When I think about the "average" trainers I have met,...and the "above average" trainers I have met, he stands out as one that is definately not cast in the same mold. He thinks out of the box ...

                            I may not be looking at this correctly, however. Tell me what you're thinking ... more detail.

                            Originally posted by Freebird! View Post
                            So yes, after seeing first hand how well his methods work, I give him two thumbs up.
                            Yes, this is where I am at the moment, Freebird. Unless there is something I don't know, ... ??? Something hidden...??? I'm fairly naive, I admit. I just wonder what people find about his TRAINING methods,... not his book ... that are questionable.
                            "For God hates utterly
                            The bray of bragging tongues."
                            Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I saw Monty twice. The first time I loved what he was able to accomplish. The second time I saw him was after he came out with the dually halter. I didn't like the second one as much because I felt he skipped some steps and relied too much on the halter and the horse didn't really understand what was being asked of her.

                              There's good and bad about every horse trainer out there. You just have to determine which works best for you; wheather that's one trainer in particular or a combination of techniques from several different trainers.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                He's a salesman. I spent a long time in sales, I recognize the sales tricks. Done right a good salesman is putting on a show and can distract you from anything he doesn't want you to see.

                                Doesn't mean he doesn't train horses.

                                I just think he is a better salesman than horse trainer.
                                Nina's Story
                                Epona Comm on FB

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                                • #17
                                  About the string, some people use a side check, that goes thru rings on the bridle or something similar and the ends attach to the snaffle, not a string under the gums.
                                  That does the same, keeps a horse's head from going down and so from bucking very much.
                                  One native indian that starts horses for a well known cutting horse trainer uses an overcheck, that is fixed and goes over the head, not on the sides, so has less give.

                                  Here are those bridles with side checks, but you can make your own with string:

                                  http://www.griffinbrook.com/train.htm

                                  I think the string under the gums is a little more extreme, but not by much.
                                  We never needed any such with the horses we started (and some were feral horses of many ages, all males still stallions) but in a pinch, may have used one.

                                  I wonder sometimes if MR likes to train and finds the problem horses interesting, knows he is a good trainer but needs shortcuts because it is showy.
                                  Surely part of his success is that has the personality that attracts the kind of people that go to clinics.

                                  I think that if you are good with horses, you also know how good and how not very good you are.
                                  I seem to see that in him and have heard from one fellow that screened horses for his shows that he stays away from some problems, prefers others that he knows he can handle.

                                  Maybe all clinicians do that, it makes sense. Why fight where you may fail and not do right by the horse, or where the situation won't be right, like not enough time, too slow and boring, to get a horse over some problems?
                                  To be a succesful clinician, you have to be a showman and get the work done and the more flash, the better photo opportunity.

                                  I really had a hard time watching his programs, the few times I tried, because he was way too slow catching on what the horse was offering him, his "talk" with a horse when teaching was somewhat inconsistent and confused some horses, that were missing what he wanted, because he didn't reinforced them when they did right.
                                  Then, I am not the one doing it and maybe he had other goals in mind than I would have in those situations.

                                  I also don't think that when a horse licks it's lips is "giving in", but it is a nervous reaction that shows the horse is under stress, that can be good stress of calmly learning without being anxious or stressed from anxiety. There is release of that tightness with the licking and chewing, but it is not "giving in" to anything or anyone.
                                  I think that started because foals do that to appease older horses and so it has been seen as a submissive behavior.
                                  The extrapolation of that behavior to a horse chewing and licking in other situations is wrong, I think.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    He's not worth the electric bill to watch the show.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Oldenburg Mom View Post
                                      Rt66Kix,

                                      It's so funny you mention the string. Because it was used on one of my horses. Now, to be fair, my horse had been checked out by the vet pretty extensively, including x-rays. This was a training issue. Compared to what I've seen by others, this was a simple, easy solution to a potentially difficult and dangerous situation. PLUS, you could not get more "non-pain" than the "buck-stop" (that's what we called it.) It was a piece of bailing twine, underneath the top lip and was LOOSELY tied to a loop around the ears that was secured at the back of the saddle.

                                      99.9999% it was no different than...I don't know, wearing a string around your wrist. BUT, if he went to buck, yes it hit him immediately in the gum. Ouch! But having seen this, and having worked through this difficulty, this was FAR less painful than a chain over the nose. FAR less.
                                      And he had the choice of what to do. And wisely, he chose NOT to buck.
                                      There are a tremendous number of nerve endings on the gums.
                                      Even baling twine on the gingiva is more severe than a chain over the nose.
                                      While there are certainly times to put this knowledge to use, please don't delude yourself that it is not painful when pressure is applied.

                                      Ghazzu, I have a ton of respect for you. Your post implies that ... well, he (because it IS his name on all this stuff) intentionally attempts to paint a picture that may indeed not be accurate. I find it difficult to believe--and yes, I could be 100% wrong--that his system is just a question of clever editing. Ok, yes, I admit someone could sustain this image for many many years. But at what point do you stop and say, "He may just have something here." Or perhaps just, "I want to know more."
                                      He may have some nuggets of "something".
                                      But IMHO, they are not worth digging through all the manure to reach.
                                      Especially when there are other people (Rashid, as has been mentioned) who are willing to provide them without burying them in manure.

                                      I lost any tolerance for Rberts after I was subjected to a speech in which he ranted and raved about how we wouldn't be in Iraq if only Ronald Reagan had followed through on his plan to send Monty to the middle east to fix everything up.

                                      The man has an ego the size of Alaska.

                                      PS--I've read his much maligned father's book, and Roberts stole most of his ideas from the man he spends so much time smearing.
                                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        A round pen is a useful thing. Haven't figured out the usefulness of Guru's yet.
                                        www.HistoricHousePreservation.com

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