Monty Roberts Sacking Out


Marjorie Hansen

There have been many opinions regarding “sacking out” of a horse. Monty Roberts has lead his followers to believe that the process is akin to some kind of torture. He is dead wrong and to make unknowledgable people believe that it is abusive shows just how ridiculous Monty Roberts’ statements are. Because sacking out is not abusive in and or itself; it all comes down to how knowledgable the person doing the training is and just like a parent disciplining a child, the parent can be kind and informative or he/she can be abusive and cruel.

If a trainer approaches a green horse with a large piece of tarp and proceeds to slap at
the horse with no intelligent plan except to terrify it into submission by exhausting it, then that person ought to get a job in a car wash or be a politician. Get into a line of work far removed from horses.

But if you use a piece of plastic about a foot square on the end of a smooth wire (and have a knowledgeable instructor), and attempt to educate all of the horse, then you are on the right track. By all of the horse, I mean, left side, right side, foreparts, head, ears, under and behind the horse. All of it, sensitive areas included in the touching.

During this training session you should be “taking readings from the horse”. Is it using its left & right eyes & ears equally? Is it responding & gradually making some sense of the procedure and accustoming itself to the sight, movements and sound of the flapping “flag”? Understanding will be greater or lesser from horse to horse. It will take one or many short lessons.

Some horses will be very easy, others may take many sessions before a true enlightenment takes place for them. No 30 minute wonders that stay wonders here. Ideally, the sessions will be short & productive. A horse with a temper may take special understanding and require breaks. A dull horse may take a different approach. By far, the hardest to deal with are those who are genuinely afraid & naturally keen and that don’t use their eyes in the company of humans. Autistic tendency?, probably not, just a bad record with us would be a guesstimate.

Eventually, taking your slicker off the back of your saddle and putting it on without dismounting in a sudden windy rain storm shouldn’t be a big problem on a properly conditioned horse, because the horse has come to understand the process through considerate familiarizing with the noises & movements of the unexpected shapes, sights and sounds. The horse has confidence in itself and its handler or rider.

Call it sacking out if you wish. Just don’t confuse this horse training process with “getting sacked behind the line of scrimmage”. It’s NO relation!. Good Luck, and don’t get in a hurry. If you think your horse is slow to learn, and you are right handed, try brushing your teeth correctly tonight with your left hand. You may gain some appreciation for your horse’s inability to learn quickly to do your bidding equally on both its left and right sides..

Done right, sacking out isn’t any more “cruel” than carefully fitting and putting a blanket and saddle up on a horse’s back and cinching it up gradually, then walking the horse a few steps and tightening it up enough to mount and ride. It would be cruel to put a bad fit of a saddle on a horse, slam it down on its withers and back, cinch it up as tight as you can, then kicking the horse in the belly to see it buck (or whatever). Same thing as “sacking out” a horse with no goal in mind except domination & exhaustion. This is the indiscriminate action of a small malicious mentality.

Monty Roberts would have you believe that all trainers practice cruelty by utilizing the time honored training practice of sacking out. Monty Roberts is dead wrong… again