She was purchased in September 2020 from a kill pen in North Dakota, received her shots and then spent two months in quarantine in Colorado before being purchased online by a person with a passion to save horses and a few hundred dollars. Sparing the blue roan Quarter Horse from a fate possibly worse than what she must have been living through, this woman knew she was in over her head once the horse arrived in Central California.
Naming her Starlight, the new owner was told the horse was unhandled at the time, moved and transported by running her into a chute and then into the trailer. She was delivered and put into her corral through this same process. She was very reactive and defensive when she arrived. She would bare her teeth, ears back and act threatening even when given food over the fence. She would run away while her pen was being cleaned, but did not act aggressively toward people as long as she had space to move away. During the next five months this kindly owner spent time with her in the corral, reading books to her, talking and just hanging out. Starlight became much calmer, more willing to allow the owner into her space, as long as she didn’t get closer than about four feet. She would take cookies from the owner’s hand, but not tolerate being touched.
Despite her adopter’s best efforts, no one had been able to gentle her for months. As Starlight desperately needed her feet trimmed, her adopter reached out to the Monty Roberts Learning Center for assistance to get her gentled. Once assessed, she was transported to the nearby Monty Roberts International Learning Center.
Within about a month, resident Monty Roberts Certified Instructor Simon d’Unienville had Starlight becoming calmer and able to be touched all over. The Monty Roberts Gentling Facility helped create a safe environment for both horse and handler. Interns from The Right Horse Initiative helped with the gentling and Starlight began to build trust but remained skeptical. After the Races (Bonnie Hutton) and Maryland’s Equine Transition Service (Katy Whipple) also began working to gentle Starlight and get her used to human touch without fear of pain.
“It was evident from Starlight’s reaction over these training sessions that she had in the past suffered abuse and pain at the hands of humans. Unlike the wild horses usually gentled in Monty Roberts’ gentling facility who are naturally weary of humans as predators but quickly adapt, Starlight needs to overcome her bad memories of pain from previous human encounters before she can learn to trust again,” d’Unienville explained.
The first time the owner visited Monty’s ranch to see Starlight’s progress, she made a decision on the spot.
“I had watched the progress that Simon and his students have made with Starlight in admiration and hopefulness that I could finally have my horse accept me and begin a partnership. However, I realized that I don’t have the knowledge nor facilities to continue with the training that they have begun. I am older and don’t want myself, nor the mare to get injured in my attempts to replicate the training that has begun for Starlight. I appreciate the efforts of Simon, and the willingness of the Monty Roberts Mustang and Transition Horse Program to accept her into the program so that she can continue to be gentled and find a future adopter.”
Starlight was featured at The Movement in June 2021 as a work in progress to highlight the methods and the care that Monty and his team put in to these horses who have been formerly mistreated.
To see a bit of the process on Monty’s YouTube Channel, watch here: https://youtu.be/YjXRg6LjBjU
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Beautiful photos available upon request.
MONTY ROBERTS AVAILABLE FOR SELECT INTERVIEWS:
The New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned horse trainer Monty Roberts is available for interviews.
MONTY ROBERTS first gained widespread fame with the release of his New York Times Best Selling book, The Man Who Listens To Horses; a chronicle of his life and development of his non-violent horse training methods called Join-Up®. Monty grew up on a working horse farm as a firsthand witness to traditional, often violent methods of horse training and breaking the spirit with an abusive hand. Rejecting that, he went on to win nine world’s championships in the show ring. Today, Monty’s goal is to share his message that “Violence is never the answer.” Roberts has been encouraged by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the award of the Membership in The Royal Victorian Order, as well as becoming Patron of Join-Up International. Other honors received were the ASPCA “Founders” award and the MSPCA George T. Angell Humanitarian Award and FEI’s Man of the Year. Monty was recently included as Horse and Hound Magazine’s Top 50 Horsemen of All Time. Monty is credited with launching the first of its kind Equus Online University; an interactive online lesson site that is the definitive learning tool for violence-free training.
JOIN-UP philosophies can be seen at work with both humans and horses across the world, from farms to major corporations. To learn more about Monty Roberts or the many applications of his Join-Up training methods, visit www.montyroberts.com. Horse Sense and Soldiers aired on Discovery Military in 2010 highlighting the therapeutic effect horses and Monty Roberts’ Join-Up® have on PTSD. Soon after Monty and his team developed the Horse Sense & Healing program for veterans and first responders. Lead-Up International was officially launched worldwide at the Monty Roberts International Learning Center in Solvang, California, in February 2017. The purpose of Lead-Up International is to reduce violence in the community by creating peaceful leaders from vulnerable youth utilizing equine-assisted therapy and non-verbal communication, building trust-based relationships.
The Movement is an annual event first launched in 2018 which aims to create a one of a kind experience, uniting outstanding speakers and live demonstrations with horses to show the unprecedented difference horses can make across all aspects of life. Visit https://themovement2021.com/
Media Contact: Debbie Loucks
Monty and Pat Roberts, Inc.