The International Showjumping rider Luca Maria Moneta is known for his horsemanship methods. If you have seen him in the ring, you have probably noticed that he’s offering his horses a carrot after every round. But why is this training methods so important for him?
Text by Babett Emese Solti. Photos by Marta Fusetti
In your opinion which are the most important principles one should take into consideration in the training of sports horses?
“Actually what I really believe is that when the horse doesn’t do something, always there is a reason. He does not understand, being too scared, too afraid or has pain. If you really consider things like that, then everything you do, you will do in the right way.”
Could you give some practical advice which could help to increase the emotional well- being of the horse?
It’s really hard to say what is good or what is wrong. I can just say what I am doing in my stable. I try to keep my horses barefoot behind. Usually, I can also find some horses that match together, divide them in a little group and have them stay out on pasture as long as possible. Always when I finish riding, I let them free, allowed them to roll and to relax. After this quality time, they will be groomed and put back in the stable. I also try to let them free as much as possible to play with other horses. Actually, I treat the horses as simple as possible also in the circumstances of the sport. Of course, in the winter, if
I want to compete with them, I clip them and use blankets. But the horses I don’t compete that much, I leave them unclipped.
In general, I think it can be clever to have some knowledge about the motion of the horse, and the psychology of the horse because that will help you to better understand him.
Can you describe the Parelli games in training?
The 7 game in the Parelli method is a way of teaching people how the horse think, how to get into the mind of the horse and how to understand their psychology. You can use this game to learn to communicate with them. The training of sports horses is complex, of course, the seven games can be a part of it, but it is not just that.
“It is not about the instrument, is more about the principle and the philosophy.”
What other tools are you using in the training?
I do a lot of different exercises. I like to use the round pen and play games to make the horse responsive, calm, relaxed and connected. After that, I try to find a connection between how I work with their mind and what I need from their body for my sport.
Are you using groundwork also for gymnastic purposes?
Yes, I play a lot in the round pen to help them to develop better muscles and use the body in the right biomechanic way. Normally I use Parelli halter and a line, or I play them in liberty. It is not about the instrument, is more about the principle and the philosophy.
Could you please tell the essences of Luca Moneta Horsemanship in some words?
I try to help the horse to show me what stresses them. I play with them until they change their attitude, get relaxed and then I reward them. By doing that I get the horse to trust me more, to get more self-confident and happy. This way we build our relation, in which I benefit from in my sport. When a new horse arrives the stable for training, I will normally start working him in the round pen. I will play a game that I learned from an Indian guy. I will make the horse change directions, stop them, ask a lot of transitions until they start being more responsive. Then I add a rider. First, as a passenger before the rider starts to use some tools. I help them from the ground. Basically, this is the system, but the progress is a bit more complex, depending on the horses and their riders.
Do you use any alternative therapies?
Yes, absolutely. I always use acupuncture, chiropractic, physio, and phytotherapy. Of course, if the horse has an infection, I use antibiotics, but normally I don’t use medicals very much.
What goals would you like to accomplish in the next years?
My dream is to be able to compete at a very high level, be successful and prove that you can accomplish a lot by building your relationship and connection with the horse, without using too many tools. Besides from that, I would like to share my knowledge with people, both trainers, and students, to make the life of the horses as easy as possible in the jumping sport. I want to find a way where the horse chooses himself to do what you ask from him.