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A.C. has been “Monty’d"

The trials and traumas of trying to load a 17.2hh 775lb monster!!!

(Please note that the video clips with this article may require you to update your Windows Media Player)

Auchmillan Charmer (A.C.) is owned by my 18 yr old daughter Kate. Kate is studying Equine/BHS at Hartpury College and A.C. is assisting her.

A.C. was purchased as a 16.3 Shire x TB semi green 4 yr old 4 ½ years ago. His previous owner had owned him from a 6month old weaned foal. Sadly she had to sell him – he was just too big for her (she was approx just over 5’.0”). We on the other hand were fed up of our daughter outgrowing every Arab we put in front of her – so thought, she’ll never outgrow this one!!!

As a youngster AC had not been travelled a lot but his upbringing was kind and gentle – he’d never known any traumas. We arranged for a well known couple to bring him from Essex to Worcestershire – he travelled with no problems and settled into his new home well.

This was a big horse, compared to what Kate or the rest of us had been used to – a lot more went in one end and a lot more came out the other. A totally new “wardrobe” had to be purchased and we arranged for someone to school AC and give Kate lessons. All progressed well.

One day Kate’s Instructor suggested to take him to a local equestrian centre to a) school him b) pop him over a couple of jumps c) to let him see more of life. We agreed and AC was loaded onto this person’s horsebox – No Trouble. We arrived at the equestrian centre, he was schooled, popped over a couple of jumps and Kate rode him round.

When it came to loading on the horsebox AC refused to go on board, we coaxed him, but no way was he going on board. The instructor decided to try and “beat” him on board – he definitely was not going to go. In the end, I rode him all the way home.

The Instructor left and a new person took over his education with Kate – things progressed really well. AC and Kate have a good rapour and naturally when she started at Hartpury College – AC went along.

We knew this massive horse would not fit in our trailer – so we decided to swap the Discovery and trailer for a horsebox. This was built with 7’9” headroom and big enough to accommodate AC. Everyone travels really well – even AC travels well ONCE WE GET HIM IN. We have tried and tried for over two years – he doesn’t seem afraid and once in, he travels really well, doesn’t sweat up and walks off the other end calmly and carefully. Chris has always driven carefully – we even have internal cameras so we can keep an eye on him.

It usually takes between one to one and half hours to load him. If we give him a mild sedative we can usually get him inside in between 30 – 50 mins, on one occasion after 10 mins and we thought we’d cracked it. Next time it took 90 mins.

We NEVER lose out tempers, we NEVER beat him or use lunge lines, brooms etc. If you get angry with him, he gets nasty – so we don’t bother. He just puts his front feet on the ramp and STOPS. We have tried lifting each foot until we are just about in and then he decides to go back – very frustrating.

Kate would love to go places, enter competitions etc etc – our biggest worry was getting him there and not being able to get him back. Now that’s not too bad – we once went to a dressage competition and he wouldn’t get back on board, so she rode him back but that was only 10 miles away. What if it had been 50 miles away!!!

When we heard Monty Roberts was giving a demonstration at Hartpury College on 26th February – I wrote pleading with them to help. They took all details and said they couldn’t promise anything but would let us know 10 days before whether he would be put forward.

True to their word – 10 days before they contacted us and asked if he would come for an “INTERVIEW” on the afternoon prior to that evenings’ performance. We were excited and nervous – could they offer us any help/advice.

There were nine horses forward for interview – two bad loaders and the rest had various problems and a couple were for breaking.

Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks were both deciding which horses would go forward. They never laid hands on the horses but watched each horse as it was given a short spin in the round pen with one of their helpers. Each owner was asked questions – we had to be as open as possible and tell the whole truth.

AC was accepted as one of the horses going forward with a loading problem. The other horse also was accepted with a loading problem – although his owners were having great difficulty getting him to the College – at least ours lived there.

The indoor school was packed; all seats were sold out prior to the performance. It was a freezing night; people were wrapped up in sleeping bags and blankets etc. All these people had come from miles to see this amazing man.

Monty Roberts has a wonderful affinity with horses – we could all learn from his way of understanding them. We saw young, big, stroppy horses accept saddle and rider. A huge dressage horse, that was afraid of its own shadow – accept plastic bags being rubbed over it and walking over a blue plastic tarpaulin. Even a young “Arab” stallion – whose main intention in life was being a stroppy delinquent looking for a harem!! Within 20 mins he was calm, obedient and had a rider on his back.

The last two of the evening were the “difficult loaders”. The first horse, who had taken all day to get to the College. I really felt for his owner. After Kelly Marks did “join up” with him and made him accept moving backwards and forwards – he walked straight on the truck – his owner was in tears, she was just so elated. This horse went backwards and forwards on and off the truck – it must have been ten times – he never once faltered or refused.

Then it was A.C.’s turn – this horse towered over Monty Roberts. When he was let loose in the pen for join up – A.C. thought it was great to have freedom and bucked and zipped round the pen. He went through all the stages of join up – smaller circle, head lowered to the floor, mouthing and licking with his tongue – eventually following like a lamb!!!

As Monty says we have to school our horses to respect us. They should walk with their nose near your shoulder, not knocking you over. They should stop when you stop and back up when you ask them to back up.


Monty explained that you should use the Dually halter to school your horse. When he comes into your space – without permission – the halter tightens and you should back him up. When you back your horse up, he learns how those couple of steps will get him a rub on his forehead; he’ll soon learn that backing up isn’t a bad thing. The most important procedure in loading a horse on a truck is backing up.

Monty felt that A.C.s main problem was “manners” because he is such a big, powerful horse – if he wants to walk past you, he will. If he wants to push you in the back he will. After a few minutes “schooling with the halter” AC accepted it and began to listen to Monty and walked at his shoulder towards the truck.

The commentary that followed from Monty was hilarious; thankfully we captured it all on video


“Oh Mr Roberts, that’s a truck and I don’t do trucks”
“ That’s alright”
“ Nope, it’s not alright”
“ What you doing now?”
“ I’m backing you up”
“ Nobody’s ever taken me towards a truck and backed me up before.”
“ Well, you’ve had it happen now”
“ Why you backing me up? Every mother knows what this is all about”
“ AC come over here, come up here by this truck – I don’t want you to go on this truck. I want you to back up.”
“ Mr Roberts, I’m tired of backing up, please let me go on the truck.”
“ Nope, I want you to back up.”
“ No please let me go on the truck.”
“ OK come on the truck, come on the truck.”
“ Oh no, I’m not going on the truck and now I back up and I might even rear.”
“ But I don’t put my hind feet on the ramp, nope I don’t do it, I stop right there”
“ What is this thing I have on my head?”
“ A Dually halter “
“ I don’t like it. It says I have to come forward or else it gets smaller.”
“ Yep, that’s what it says.”
“ Well I don’t like it”

At this point they pulled part of the round pen across the back of the truck – like gates.


“What are they doing Mr Roberts?”
“ They’re closing the back door”
“ How come”
“ Cos I want you to put your hind feet on the ramp.”
“ I don’t want to”
“ Well back up”
“ No, I can’t back up, there’s a fence behind me”.
“ Well think it over”
“ I’ve thought it over”
“ I’m coming on the truck”

This took approximately 5mins.

Monty explained that we can use repetition as our friend and just keep repeating the process.

If we have a horse that’s difficult to load, once you get them in there, you close the ramp and go somewhere. We are guilty of this – we have been so grateful of getting AC on board that we get the ramp up immediately and go.


As Monty says this is the worst thing we can do, closing the ramp and going somewhere because all that does is allow the horse an opportunity to rethink it the next time and refuse to go in the next time you try it. He suggests we use repetition, let the halter take charge, until he’s happy with going in and out and in and out.

AC went in and out of the truck endless times – he never faltered. In Monty’s words: “ He’s like a Sherman tank coming in”


Monty said eventually we’d be able to sit at the breakfast table, open the window and shout “A.C. get in the truck were going somewhere today and AC would trot up into the truck!!!!”


Finally, Kate took hold of AC and led him into the truck, Monty told her not to look back at AC but just to walk straight on the truck – the joy on her face was a dream to behold – she gave Monty a great big hug!!


I know a lot of different things have been said about Monty Roberts and his methods but I for one found him a genuine, caring person whose love of horses shines through. This man says there is no need for abuse and whips to beat these animals into submission – get into their minds and see how they react with each other, then you will understand how to teach them the right ways.

The evening has proved to us that AC is not afraid of the truck, he is able to go in, and he just needs the confidence to keep doing it. We also need the confidence to keep him doing it. We have arranged to have an associate horse listener/whisperer come and give us and AC more lessons.

Be aware there are people who say they are “natural horsemen” or “whisperers” etc but they are not – so check them out fully before placing your horse in their hands.

© Judith Evans & Arabian Lines 2005

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