Dublin show at the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge is the centrepiece and driving force for many in the Irish Equestrian community. It is so dominant in our culture that people just talk about it as ‘the horse show’, despite the fact that there are approximately another 2,000 annual horse shows
in this extraordinary horse loving country.yes""> The horse show is five life enhancing days of equestrian celebration. It caters for every type of horse and pony, with the traditional show hunter championship still generating special interest despite the competition from the high level show jumping on display in two arenas from 8 o’clock in the morning till 7 o’clock at night.
It is five days of bowler hatted stewards, huge rosettes, ladies in silk and not a little retail therapy; five days of glamorous international riders, visits from our President, Mary McAleese, and huge cheers for the winners of each and every class. It is without doubt one of the really great horse shows of the world.


This year there is a special visitor doing daily demonstrations in one of the sand arenas in Simmonscourt …. none other than Monty Roberts, the young horse guru. I will probably upset some people because I do not think we need a visit from Monty at this time. Yes he has generated publicity for the show and yes without doubt he makes many more people think about how they
communicate with their horses, but it ignores one central fact…it is not fundamentally difficult to get on a horse’s back. What is difficult, or what requires real expertise is to put a horse between the aids, using their backs and going in such a way that they are prepared to carry a rider.



Monty’s often used mission statement is that he wants “to take the violence out of horse training.” An admirable statement that the vast majority of us can buy into without difficulty. However in the process he is disingenuous by suggesting that most horses are treated brutally and have their spirits broken by ignorant handlers. This is as untrue as the clever linking of his name to the well known film ‘The Horse Whisperer.’ The horse whisperer was based on the work of Buck Brannaman, who was also the lead equine consultant for the film, and still teaches and rides brilliantly in the USA.
This has been confirmed many times by the author of the horse whisperer, Nicholas Evans, but no one has heard it from Monty’s lips.
Evans himself said, "Others have falsely claimed to be the inspiration for Tom Booker in The Horse Whisperer. The one who truly inspired me was Buck Brannaman. His skill, understanding and his gentle, loving heart have parted the clouds for countless troubled creatures. Buck is the Zen master of the horse world."



There is little need to get on a horse’s back in record time….and there is little need for Monty Robert’s quick mount trick. There is however a great need to prepare a horses for being ridden so that they can cope with the weight of the rider without dropping and locking their back and becoming an inefficient athlete. None of my young horses are ridden away until they first go in a connected and quality way on the lunge. Yes the rider should be introduced earlier, sometimes much earlier, but riding a young horse that is not connected back to front does little except
establish bad habits and a poor way of going. Unfortunately the work of Monty Robert encourages the riding of young horses at too early a stage, when they have neither the physical preparation nor way of going to cope easily. It is therefore often counterproductive and harmful to their future development.



So where is the priority need for education? Unfortunately too many Irish horses are still harmed by early days with riders who do not have the expertise to ride a horse between the aids with a ‘classical’ progression and rely instead on the quick fix of gadgets to pull the heads in unnaturally. These people urgently need education on lungeing and riding techniques that will give more horses the chance of an easier and more effective way of going when carrying a rider.


Monty Robert's method is not unique. My own Father Dick Micklem used a very similar method, learnt from the Argentine polo players in the late 1940’s. However he only used it on the horses that had learnt to buck people off having been badly handled by others. As he said himself “for the majority of horses getting on their backs is easy. What you need to spend the time on is giving them a ‘mouth’ and getting them to ride well.” So Monty Roberts is rather like the King in his magic suit of clothes. One day we shall realise he is naked!

ONWARDS! William



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Comment by William Micklem on April 18, 2011 at 8:22am
Great and elegant web site...well done...when jumping keep a little more weight through your leg which will discourage the body from going too far forward...good luck..William
Comment by Gaia Vincenzi on April 18, 2011 at 3:39am

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Comment by William Micklem on August 12, 2010 at 5:00am
Not sure I fully understand what you are saying here Laura but I appreciate you want people to do better work in the TB industry. I use to do 2yo and 3yo in the flat industry and am still involved with National Hunt youngsters. They need the same start as all sport horses and they without doubt benefit by coming through in their backs from the start. They then work more efficiently and potentially win more races. William
Comment by Laura Devitt on August 12, 2010 at 4:41am
Hi William, I totally understand what you are saying, I work in the thoroughbred industry and a fair number of youngsters are either handled roughly or not handled at all and his methods are a huge help.
I can't see Monty doing 'collected' work with any horse but of course racehorses don't need this type of education (although Henrietta Knight does believe in flat work for her chasers).I think anyone who knows how to ride well knows the limitations of this method and for the others (including me!) it's a starting point Laura.
Comment by William Micklem on August 11, 2010 at 5:57pm
Hi Laura....I accept what you say although having watched Monty on four occasions and seeing his DVD's and TV work I have never heard this mentioned, which is strange. However he does say he is anti lungeing. The problem with driving a horse is that A) it is very difficult to do well and B) it is difficult to do in trot unless you do it in circles like lungeing. To develop impulsion ready for riding with a horse that does not go with natural impulsion the horse needs to be worked in trot and probably canter. What I see with Monty disciples are horses that are riding but riding with a quality of work that would be called 'insufficient' in dressage terms. William
Comment by Laura Devitt on August 11, 2010 at 1:55pm
Hi William, I think Monty is only demonstrating what can be achieved in a short time by 'reading' the horse's body language. I saw Monty Roberts in Ireland back in 1990 and I distinctly remember him saying the horse should be driven for five or six weeks before being ridden off.The next stage is really up to the rider and the maturity of the horse. I have to say I would have Monty 'start' a horse a long time before I'd let Parelli near it!
Comment by Roland Hardman on August 9, 2010 at 12:44pm
Nice to see some people can see through the "bs"
Alot of people have made a great deal of money to sell a system to trian a horse, with little thought about any potential damage caused.
And yes William I am working my youngster on the lunge and will not sit on him until he is properly ready!!
Naturally in his new Micklem bridle.
Comment by Jackie Cochran on August 8, 2010 at 9:36am
Thank you William for stating this so well.
And you are right. Getting up on the horse's back is the easy part. All it takes is a few months of intelligent, gentle, progressive physical and mental education.
The hard part is the next 20 years, spent trying to 1) physically develop the horse further (hours and hours of riding), and 3) teach the horse a whole new way of communication, and during all this desperately trying not to ruin the horse. THATS hard!!!
People without metal bits, treed saddles, or any examples managed to tame and ride horses over 6,000 years ago. The rest of the time has been learning how not to ruin the horse.

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