09 September 2008

Misconceptions - Join up

Misconception - “Oh ‘Join Up’ - that’s that thing where you chase a horse around a round pen until it’s exhausted and gives up isn’t it?”

Within this post I am only talking about 'Join Up' as practiced and taught by Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks. I am well aware of the numerous derivatives i.e the Parelli 'catching game', Pony Boy and others, but do not feel inclined to comment on these at this point.

Anyone who knows what they are doing and what signals to look for in a ‘Join Up’ will ask the horse to trot for about 15 laps in a 16 metre (50 foot diameter) round pen unrestricted. This gives us a circumference of approx 50 mtr. As the horse will keep its self away from the wall/fence by about a metre we can say he/she will actually trot a 44 mtr track. 44 mtr multiplied by 15 laps = 660 mtrs. Here the horse is not encumbered by the weight of a rider and tack.

Now lets take a look at a standard schooling arena 20 x 40mtrs. Again if we subtract a metre for keeping off the fence and cutting corners this gives us an actual 18 x 38 mtr track. 18+18+36+36 = 112mtrs. Here the horse has the added weight of a rider and tack.

So, in only 6 laps of the arena the horse has covered the same 672mtrs, I have yet to see a single rider do only 6 laps during a schooling session. Generally the horse is lunged for 10 mins “to get the beans out of him” and then ridden for half an hour covering walk, trot and canter. In that time the horse may have covered 20 laps = 2,160mtrs, in comparison to the 660mtrs asked in a ‘Join Up’.

Having done the maths, it seems far more likely that a horse which is being traditionally schooled is more likely to be “exhausted and give up” than a horse asked to do ‘Join Up’.

1 comment:

jan said...

I have to admit that many years ago when I first heard about join-up I was critical .... I had heard that the horses were chased around until they 'gave up' ... but when I actually watched 'join-up' being done correctly, it was absolutely clear to me that the horse was indeed responding and interacting in a positive manner towards the human who was 'talking' to the horse in a language he could not only understand, but a language he could use to 'talk back' to the person who had the knowledge to 'listen' -
I am not saying EVERY horse would benefit from join-up ... I am sure there are a few 'remedial' horses that would find it stressful or who cannot learn openly through having suffered past trauma .... but on the occasions I have witnessed join-up I have been most impressed.