Cars streamed in the darkness towards Royal Leisure, near Henfield, Sussex; Landrovers, nearly Landrovers, four by fours, two by fours, the dark muddy lanes resembled the M25 on a Friday night. When I arrived there was a strange gloom about the place. A massive power failure had cast its hand of darkness over the whole area.
Monty, however seemed little perturbed. Generators were being hauled into position. Bustling of helpers organizing emergency lighting men with torches showing people where to park cars, exhibited stoic organization skills. None of us knew where our cars were! Well I had no idea where I had put mine. The building slowly filled up with expectant people all sitting in the dark, quietly waiting.
We’ve all been in the dark. Years of darkness, years of not understanding how equus communicates with its own. We floundered; we’ve resorted to the whip, to the twitch, to the blindfold and more severe bits, flash nosebands and darkness. When the Queen asked Monty to come over and show her Join-Up® she lit a candle of hope for the horse. One small but firmly held light at the end of tunnel. We saw the light and many of us followed. The light was trust. It radiated out from this man to the horse and the horse followed.
Monty brought a young horse into the round pen; we peered through the semi dark blinking at the spotlights. The young horse blinked, but not from the spotlights. He watched this man of 76, convince him that there was hope, that he could trust this man, and he was free to choose to trust him. The light dawned and Join-Up® was achieved. The young horse accepted it’s saddle; long reins and rider in all too swift a time, in the dark of semi consciousness that he had been in the horse’s eyes were opened to the possibility of a wonderful relationship with mankind.
It all looks so obvious, Monty puts his eyes on the eyes of the horse and sends it away, the turn the dropping of the shoulder, the horse comes in its nose stretched out as if to say ‘Can I really trust you?’
Yes you can. Said Monty in the language of Equus. The little horses heaved a sigh of relief and followed him.
A big handsome horse followed with a mass of phobia but mostly about water and it included walking of any kind of tarpaulin. Monty did Join-Up, the horse saw the light and came over to him with such honesty and need. Then the helpers spread a huge Tarpaulin across the entire round pen except for a track around the edge and Monty led the phobic horse back into the round pen. Monty walked around the edge of the pen then across it. That dark place in which these phobias dwell was suddenly at its end. The horse walked across the tarpaulin as if it had been doing it all its life. ‘He is my guide, he lights my way, I go where he goes.
I recall during my ride to Canterbury of a moment when I too had to make a split second decision which had I hesitated all would have been lost. It was pouring with rain. We had been to the Cathedral, we had visited the town and done all our photo options and were on our way home. We took a footpath that led alongside a river and then under a huge complex roundabout. I decided that a bit of dry would be nice. So I led the way along the foot passage now under the road, a wall to my right and a railing to my left. I had not bargained on a weir in full flood. Fool! My horse Smelly had never seen or heard such a thing and it now roared. Smelly stopped and in that second I knew what I had to do. With a horse and people behind me, I jumped off, slithered down by the rail, slid my western reins out and walked on. Smelly followed me down the tunnel towards the light.
Suddenly the lights came on, darkness banished. When the horse with the loading problem came in all was bright. This milk-bottled faced chestnut could not be loaded. Its owner keeps it at Royal Leisure. Monty saw the phobias and dealt with each one. He walked the pretty horse over his board so he could hear his feet pound on the wood. He then led him through a narrowed channel made with the round pen. He schooled him back and forth, the horse calmed down. It took Monty about 30 seconds to load him.
I hope that night many people saw the light. That they realize we are lucky enough to have a master horseman at work who teaches and supports his students. His riding demonstration done with his staff, Kelly and Alex was sublime. We are so lucky to have him here.
An opportunity to learn, an opportunity to see the light, everyone who opens his eyes to the possibility of good horsemanship, to common sense horse training and to the wonders of Join-Up will benefit from this man’s work. And those who don’t, well they will be walking around in the dark.
17th February, 2012