The Man Who Listens to Horses

The Man Who Listens to Horses

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Overview

This spellbinding memoir details the extraordinary life of Monty Roberts: a man whose gentle, compassionate training methods - transforming the once brutal practice of horse-breaking throughout the world - are redefining the way we think about communication, not only between other species but between ourselves. Over the past year, more than a million people have been uplifted by Roberts' book - from animal lovers to business leaders, and everyone in between. Amusing, poignant, riveting and humane, The Man Who Listens to Horses is that rare book that brings us into the company of a man and his magic, and opens us to the world of animals.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345427052
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1998
Edition description: 1 BALLANTI
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.88(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

Monty Roberts, born in 1935, lives in California. He is currently at work on his second book.

Lawrence Scanlan lives in Ontario.

Read an Excerpt

The Call of the Wild Horses

It all dates from those summers alone in the high desert, me lying on my belly and watching wild horses with my binoculars for hours at a time. Straining to see in the moonlight, striving to fathom mustang ways, I knew instinctively I had chanced upon something important but could not know that it would shape my life. In 1948 I was a boy of thirteen learning the language of horses.

In the wilderness of Nevada, the soil is silky and cool to the touch at dawn, and at midday will burn your skin. My summer vigils were marked off by the heat of the day and the cold of the night and a profound sense of solitude. It felt right to be there under those vast skies on that dove-gray moonscape in the company of wild and wary horses. I remember, especially, a dun mare with a dark stripe along her back and zebra stripes above her knees. Clearly the matriarch of the herd, she was disciplining an unruly young colt who had been roughing up foals and mares. I vividly recall how she squared up to him, her eyes on his eyes, her spine rigid, her head pointed arrowlike at the adolescent. No longer full of himself, he knew exactly what she meant. Three hundred yards from the herd, the outcast would know by her body position when he could return to the fold. If she faced him, he could not. If she showed him part of her body's long axis, he could begin to consider it. Before her act of forgiveness had to come signs of his penitence. The signals he gave back to her—the seeking of forgiveness—would later be fundamental to a technique I would develop to introduce young horses gently to saddle and rider. It was the mustangs who taught me their silent body grammar, and the dun mare was my first teacher.

I grew up in Salinas, California, where wild horses were annually put to other uses. In 1948, the Wild Horse Race was a featured part of the Salinas Rodeo. And because I lived in a house on the rodeo grounds (or competition grounds, as I called it) where my parents ran a riding school, rodeo was part of our lives. Normally, wild horses were cheap and plentiful. Doc Leach, a short, bespectacled man who was our dentist and also president of the association that governed the competition grounds, would have called the usual people and said, in effect, Come on, folks, I need a hundred and fifty mustangs to be delivered to Salinas by July the first and it would happen. But with horsemeat used so extensively during the war, mustang numbers had dwindled significantly, and by 1947 the herds in northern California, Nevada, and southern Oregon had diminished by as much as two-thirds, with the horses now located almost exclusively in Nevada. That year Doc Leach's calls had fallen on deaf ears. What mustangs? the Nevada ranchers had countered. You come up here and see if you can get them yourself. The wild horse race was usually no race at all but a kind of maniacal musical chairs played with mustangs, but that year the Salinas Rodeo Association had to scrape together what they could find, and so it was a fairly tame wild horse race, with too few horses and too many old ones to put on the show required.

The following year I saw an opportunity to provide Doc Leach with a service that would both salvage the reputation of the wild horse race and save the lives of a hundred or more horses. I was only thirteen; he might not listen. But I was driven by both a fierce young entrepreneurial spirit and my love of the horses. In previous years, after the rodeo, the mustangs were sent to Crows Landing to be slaughtered for dog food. If I could somehow make them worth more than that...

What if, I proposed to Doc Leach, I go to Nevada and get the mustangs? Doc Leach's eyebrows popped up above his glasses. How you going to do that, walk? No, I've made a lot of friends from trips to horse shows there. I know I can ask for help from the Campbell Ranch. Bill Dorrance, a remarkable horseman in his mid-fifties who would become my mentor, had contacts at the ranch and would make the arrangements. Ralph and Vivian Carter, good horse people and friends of the family, had business to conduct near there and had agreed to help. Finally, I had a truck driver lined up. Good for you, Doc Leach came back, a hint of mockery in his voice. I was, after all, little more than a boy. I'd ride up to the ranges with some of the day hands from the Campbell Ranch, and I bet I could secure one hundred and fifty head. Head of what? Chickens or horses? He had a sophisticated sense of humour. Strong and healthy mustangs, Dr. Leach. I explained to him that my younger brother, Larry, and I could care for them at the competition grounds until the rodeo was held. They'll be ready on the spot, with the pair of us on hand to see they're all right. Doc Leach shifted his pipe from one corner of his mouth to the other and blinked a couple of times. That meant he was cogitating. Finally he asked, What's in it for you? I was thinking, sir, that after the rodeo Larry and I could break in the mustangs and maybe have an auction sale, so they'd be worth more than Crows bait. That was the euphemism for animals taken to Crows Landing for slaughter. This year, I told him, he would not have to send any animals to the abattoir. There'd definitely be more than a few that would go through the sale ring ridden by my brother or myself and maybe provide someone with a useful mount, sir. He was still cogitating, so I went on. And perhaps the rodeo association could show a profit at the end of the day, more than the slaughter value anyway. Doc Leach weighed the arrangement, turning it over in his mind. He was like the buyer of a used car, kicking the tires and looking for the hidden defect. When he could find none, he agreed.

He offered to call up Irvin Bray and contract him to provide me with transport for the return journey. Finally, we agreed that the net proceeds of any sales were to be divided equally between the rodeo association and the Roberts brothers.

I was on my way to Nevada to gather 150 head of mustangs. It would prove to be the most important opportunity of my life: to study horses in their natural groups, in the wild. For the next three years I would be crossing the Sierra Nevada to the high desert beyond, to live alongside wild herds for several weeks at a time. From that experience I would begin to learn a language, a silent language which I have subsequently termed Equus. With that as a springboard, I would assemble a framework of ideas and principles that would guide my life's work with horses. I would have none of this were it not for my time as a teenager spent in the company of mustangs.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The Man Who Listens to Horses will first break, then mend your heart.... A riveting and inspirational story.... Read it. Monty Roberts will make you marvel." -The New York Times Book Review

"Utterly engrossing.... For those who have ridden the high plains country, wide open, atop a horse in the full, mature glory of its strength, the only honest reaction after reading the book is to smile in warm agreement." -Michael Enright, The Globe and Mail

"Mesmerizing.... The kind of life-altering book you never want to finish." -San Francisco Chronicle

Customer Reviews

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Man Who Listens to Horses 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you own a horse or work with them- READ THIS BOOK!!! This guy can read your horse like a book! I'm not a book worm and this book was the longest book I have ever read.I never got bored reading this book and believe me when it comes to books my tension spand is not very long unless its a really good book.This books tells Monty Robert's story of his life, how he learned to listen to horses and he also gives a few pointers when you are trying to do Join-UP with your horse!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Man who Listens to Horses is an Awesome book! I still have 3 chapters left, but it is a very good book that is about life and earning a horse's trust. It even has a Step-By-Step Giude in the back on how to start horses, Monty's way. It really opens your eyes and shows you how cruel people are to these wonderful creatures. An amazing book. I reccomend to all ages! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
OH MY GOSH...Great Book...Can not wait to read the 2nd 'Shy Boy' This book has not only helped me with my horses but every day life....Thanks!!!
puckrobin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A compelling and facinating look at how we treat the animals who share our lives, what we can learn by listening to them more often (instead of simply ordering them about), and how one man 'bucked' (pun intended) years and years of traditional horse training methodology to challenge horse owners, horse lovers - and frankly anyone who has to interact with any living creature - to reexamine how we communicate.
room5rapaura on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this book is great. It isn't just about horses it is about Monty's life and his family. It also tells us about the ways they broke there horses in. Some of them were very mean but some of the ways we still se them today. This would be great for people who want to read an autobiography or like books horses.
rohetherington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inspiring story of horses, humans, and the search for harmony. Monty demonstrates a few human qualities that rarely get expressed in todays chaotic society; vision, self-belief, determination, compassion. Absolutely awesome.
chory.4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Man Who Listens to Horses is a nonfiction book written by Monty Roberts about his life, career, and passion for horses. He recounts his autobiographical tale about his journey to becoming horse whisperer. The writing is clear and he does not hold back details in explaining why and how he works with horses. The book is chronological, and he does not just include the dates and events of his life, but instead includes the memorable stories, challenges, people, and horses that define him. This book was very motivational to me because I also love horses and understood the respect and nobility he also assigns to the horse. He includes pictures of important people and horses he helped or helped him. At the end of the book there is a summary index that goes over different techniques and approaches he applies as a horse trainer and whisperer. Overall, the book served its purpose as educating other people about the art, magic, and power of communicating and listening to horses.
appaloosa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To me, this book came across more like a personal memoir rather than the latest trend in horse-training techniques. I thoroughly enjoyed the book soley for the author's personal insight, observatons, and his remarkable kinship with horses and animals.What most folks in the equine industry don't realize, is that Monty has a special gift & kinship with horses - unique to him only. What works for one trainer, does not neccessarily work for another. What I see in horse-related magazines and in the equine industry per se, makes me shake my head. The equine media is all to quick to pick up on the latest trainer/training techniques, to wit: John Lyons, Lynn Salvatori-Palm, Pat Parelli, Mark Rashad, etc; (the latest trend seems to be shifting to Australian cowboys, re: Clinton Anderson, et al), then drop it as quickly until the next training fad becomes the new vogue. Folks then jump on the equine training technique flavor-or-the-month bandwagon, thinking "what works for him, will work for me." without taking into account one's own personal dynamics, mood, personality, character, temperment, metabolism, etc.It reminds me what Dr. Benjamin Spock said on becoming new parents for the first time: "Trust yourself, you know more than you think." Which I suppose could be analogous to getting along with our equine partners: trust your instincts.That being said, I wish I could go to one of Monty's "join up" clinics - if only to observe man & horse communicate, and watch Monty work his magic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We used this book for our March book club. It wasn't enjoyed by everyone. We had a horse lover and former owner of a horse in the group. She enjoyed the book more than others. Monte Roberts chose to leave holes in story we tried to fill in. His mother was a mystery to us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buck brahnam's book is a much better read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Opened my eyes to the intelligence and feelings of horses. One of the BEST books I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Man Who Listens to Horses is a very well written book. It made me cry at some points in the book. It is very eye opening. When you read it, you won't want it to end. It is one of those books that changed my life forever. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Monty Roberts has revolutionized the way we see our horses. I've had the privilege of seeing him work and highly recommend all of his books .
HandelGirl More than 1 year ago
This book humbly and joyfully details the journey of an exceptional human being. Monty's life--from his childhood, characterized by both parental abuse and the joy of horses, to his current life at Flag Is Up Farms--is one that will inspire even the most unemotional soul. The book is one of gentleness and wisdom, and any horseman or horsewoman--or person--will better him- or herself by reading it.
I will add that I ordinarily detest stories about animals, but that this book, rather than reeking of the usual B-grade sentimentality common to the genre, is full of grace and quiet dignity. Two thumbs up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am and loved the book, but my husband is not. He picked up the book and in 2 days finished it! He loved it, too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really pulled me in. I started off reading the first chapter and before i knew it i was continuing on to the sixth chapter. I love horses a lot and that's why i chose to read this book. Monty Roberts is a horse lover also and he knows how to 'Talk' to them. Monty Roberts doesn't really understand what the horses say by neighing to him, he undertands their body language. Like when a horses ears go back, that's when you know that they're irritated and impatiant. I learned a lot from this book, and if you read it... I know that you will too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a must for horse lovers. I, personally, gained a lot from this book. It is one of my favorites of all time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Monty Roberts entices the reader in his best selling autobiography, The Man Who listens to Horses. The story begins in Salinas, California during the Great Depression. Born and raised on the rodeo grounds, he is bothered from an early age by the inhumane way horses are 'broken.' The book contains many conflicts Roberts has experienced throughout his life; ranging from man versus man to man versus nature. Monty Roberts is one of the leading pioneers in the 'join up' process. He began studying the silent language of horses at the age of thirteen on the scorching Nevada deserts. Traditionally horses are broken in a cruel way, being tied to a pole and beaten into submission. Experts say that this way creates horses that perform in fear, making unstable mounts. Monty's method involves gaining a horse's trust and respect as the leader. He rewards good behavior as an alternative to punishing bad. Roberts is an excellent author. The details constantly keep the reader intrigued. I will commend him for criticizing not just others, but even his own stupidity. The part of the book I enjoyed the most would have to be the step-by-step instructions to 'join up' with horses. I also enjoy his many conflicts which he has experienced throughout his life. He tells stories of past rodeos and 'untamable' horses he has tamed. This action-packed page-turner won't let you put it down. His stories range from 'crazy' horses to psychotic owners. He tells of life with his prejudiced, thieving father as well as hardships of The Depression and a world war. This is one of the best books I have ever read. I read it almost nonstop from cover to cover because I couldn't put it down. Monty Roberts has paved the way for horse whisperers, but he emphasizes you must listen to horses not tell them; he asks horses to perform, doesn't order them. I know I will never look at horses the same again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
one of my absolutely favorite books by my favorite horse trainer, monty roberts. this bok describes his life and how he learned the language of equus...might sound crazy, talking to horses, but it is just the best book ever. i am only 13. as u can see, this book is really easy, but it will AFFECT YOUR LIFE. IT DID TO MINE. monty roberts helps u understand the real communication of horses. his life is a true miracle. he has discovered something no one has ever discovered befored. it is sooooooo amazing u just wonder how he does it. if u r scared of horses or dont like them, i really recommend this book because it teaches the real meaning and that horses are more scared of u than u r of them. u will understand horses a lot better. it is also a guide of training. it is also a bible for horse lovers. the man who listens to horses is just too good to describe in words
Guest More than 1 year ago
monty roberts is no fake this man can really communicate with horses he's a wonderful man and i hope to meet him some day
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is my bible!!! It is the most incredible and enlightening book I have read. It helped me communicate with my horse better, and even helped me communicate with people better. I wish I could meet Monty Roberts!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The idea of join up is excellent as this will give us a better world and loving atmosphere between human,and animals. Human beings had been cruel while breaking animals and also youngsters. I experienced this and was very upset and lost my confidence in human beings. The feelings of hatredness filled my heart but just cant' do anything to the higher authorities. Then I had a fall during riding and broke my ankle. While resting at home my instructor lend me this book and I realised that the only thing I can do is to change myself and learn to achieve join up with human beings and animals.And I am happy since then. I learnt to admit what people had done were wrong and will never want to repeat this in future, so hope that we can make this world a more loving one,to all living creatures forever.