The Man Who Listens to Horses By Monty Roberts
Reviewed by Ashley Sutton
For hundreds of years, people have trusted the traditional way of training horses. This method uses beatings, pain, and suffering to break the horse's spirit and force him to obey. This practice was considered normal, but the consequences of "breaking" a horse this way are tragic. Horses lose their trust toward humans, and while many people are aware of this loss, it seemed that this was the only effective way to train horses. But one day, Monty Roberts went out into the wilderness of Nevada to watch the wild mustangs that roamed there. It was observing the herd's strict disciplinary procedures that brought Monty to noticing a pattern in the horses' behavior, a kind of "language." He called this language "Equus," and his knowledge of Equus helped him discover join-up, efficient, painless way to train horses. In The Man Who Listens to Horses, Monty Roberts tells of his childhood, his discovery of Equus and join-up, and of the many obstacles that stood in his way of sharing his methods with others. Now sixty-six years old, Monty "is squarely built, and at 240 pounds on a five-foot-four-inch frame, he is much heavier than he looks," says Lawrence Scanlon, who wrote the introduction to the book. His vision is impaired; he can only see black, white, and a wide array of gray tones. Monty grew up around horses, since his father was a well-known horse trainer. Throughout his childhood, Monty witnessed the cruel methods of breaking horses that his father used. His disagreements with his father were a main factor in what made his so determined to stop these methods. Monty's father was a firm believer in sacking-out, in other words, tying a horse up and beating him into submission. As Monty describes one horse being "trained" by his father, "The whites in his eyes are showing, the horse desperately tries to escape my father, and one eye looks back at him in fear and dread." When Monty tried to show his father his way of training, this turned into Monty's fate, too. For years, Monty was the subject of horrifying abuse from his father, and Monty never forgave him for the pain he caused in so many lives. Throughout the book, Monty tries to communicate to the reader that his talents with horses are nothing extraordinary. He has no special "magic touch," and no ancestry of communicating with horses. He just says that he has learned to "listen" to the horses he trains, and that this allows him to solve their problems with ease. He maintains that anyone can do what he does with horses if they'd just take the time to "listen." His book tells of the hard times he's had, and it shows people that the road to making a difference in the world is often a hard one. The Man Who Listens to Horses is an inspiring story about a man who never gave up on what he believed in. Anyone who likes either horses or just a heart-warming story is sure to enjoy this book by Monty Roberts. It shows the consequences of the trust between humans and horses being broken, and what we can to do to prevent this loss of trust.