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Monty Roberts

Monty Roberts (born May 14, 1935 in Salinas, California as Marvin Earl Roberts) is a horse trainer whose 1996 autobiography, The Man Who Listens to Horses, became a best-seller.[1]

He wrote that by personally observing horses in the wild, he learned to "listen" to their non-verbal "language"; that when horses understood that they can trust you, they will decide to be with you.[1] Roberts registered as his term for "hooking on", the phrase "Join~Up", in which a trainer negotiates with an untamed horse to form a voluntary relationship with him.[1]



Roberts claims to have discovered the concept of listening to horses while observing wild mustangs in Nevada at the age of thirteen. Roberts wrote that he was sent there to round up horses for the Salinas Rodeo Association’s Wild Horse Race and spent hours silently watching the feral horses interact with each other. He wrote that he realized that they used a discernible, effective and predictable body language to communicate, set boundaries, show fear and express annoyance, relaxation or affection. Roberts wrote that it was then that he understood that utilizing this silent language would allow training to commence in a much more effective and humane manner, encouraging true partnership between horses and humans.[1]

File:MRoberts QEII.jpg
Monty and Pat Roberts with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 1996

An event that would change the direction of his life was a call was from the offices of Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom and an avid horsewoman. She had heard about Roberts' work and invited him to come to her country and show her staff his "Join~Up" method.[1] After watching his demonstration, the Queen urged him to write a book about his nonviolent horse-training methods. That book became The Man Who Listens to Horses.[1]

Today, Roberts travels around the world, demonstrating his method of nonviolent horse training. He volunteers his time speaking to incarcerated youth in juvenile detention facilities, gentles wild horses in front of live audiences, teaches his techniques to a growing number of students at his Equestrian Academy in Solvang, California, acts as a consultant at schools with disciplinary issues in the UK and the US,[2] and advises executives at Fortune 500 companies.[3]

The father of Monty Roberts was Marvin Roberts,[4] who demonstrated his methods of horse training in his own book written in 1957 and according to Monty Roberts:

...trained horses to carry riders in the traditional way — "breaking" horses by breaking their will, almost torturing the animals into submission.[1]

Roberts claimed to have been beaten by his father, but according to other sources, such as Roberts' aunt, Joyce Renebome, and cousin, Debra Ristau, in their book Horse Whispers & Lies, Marvin Roberts was a kind and compassionate man.[5] Roberts' brother, Larry Roberts, also denied the claims of child battering.[6]


File:MRoberts keulen12.jpg
Monty Roberts at work
File:MRoberts Zsolt.JPG
Monty Roberts at work

Books and documentaries

Roberts has written several books.

Monty Roberts: The Man Who Listens to Horses is a 1996 autobiography published in hard cover by Random House in 1997 and re-issued in paperback in 1998 by Ballantine Books (ISBN 0-345-42705-X). It spent 58 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers list and has been translated into more than 15 languages. In 2007 it was re-released in an updated edition at its 10th year anniversary. It has sold over five million copies worldwide.

The thesis of this book is that it is possible to learn the nonverbal language of horses, and that such knowledge would enable a person to train a horse without resorting to physical force (see horse breaking).

The front flap says:

Monty Roberts is a real-life horse whisperer — an American original whose gentle training methods reveal the depth of communication possible between man and animal. He can take a wild, high-strung horse who has never before been handled and persuade that horse to accept a bridle, saddle, and rider in thirty minutes.

The book remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 58 weeks.[7]

Next was Shy Boy: The Horse That Came in from the Wild.[8] It appeared in 1999 and also joined the best-seller lists.[9]

Other books by Roberts include Horse Sense for People (2001),[10] From My Hands to Yours (2002),[11] The Horses in My Life (2005)[12] and Ask Monty (2007).[13]

Three documentaries on Roberts have been released. The first was the 1997 documentary BBC/PBS Monty Roberts: The Real Horse Whisperer. It showed Roberts as he set out to tame a wild mustang without enclosures, and his developing relationship with the horse later known as Shy Boy. Other documentaries include the 1999 film Shy Boy: The Horse That Came in from the Wild and a 2005 documentary[14] on Roberts' work with wild horses and another about his work with aboriginal youth on Palm Island, Australia.[15] In 2006, a DVD series with 17 episodes, named A Backstage Pass! was completed and broadcast in the UK.[16]


File:Monty Roberts Equitana Germany1.JPG
Monty Roberts in Equitana at Essen, Germany (March 2003)

In 2002, Roberts received an honorary doctorate in animal psychology from the University of Zurich in Switzerland and in 2005 he gained an honorary doctorate in animal psychology from the University of Parma in Italy. In 2004, the Girl Scouts of the USA commissioned a special Join-Up badge and training program in honor of Roberts’ work, and in 2005, he became the first foreign-born and first American to receive the German Silbernes Pferd (Silver Horse) Award[17] for outstanding contributions to promoting the love of horses.[15] In the Dec. 2008 issue of Your Horse, a major British equestrian magazine, readers named Monty Roberts Personality of the Year 2008.[18]

Between 1950 and 1969, Roberts won 11 National NIRA All-Around Championships, including National NIRA Champion Bulldogger, the NIRA National Team Roping Championship and the NIRA National All Around Championship.[19] In 1966 he assisted in the founding of Flag Is Up Farms, of which he is now the full owner. From 1973 to 1986, he was a leading consignor to the Hollywood Park Two-Year-Old Thoroughbreds in Training Sale. In 2004, Roberts’ German-bred horse Sabiango won major races throughout the US.[20]

In 1989, Queen Elizabeth II invited Roberts to Windsor Castle to demonstrate his training methods to her and her staff, and in 2002 Roberts again visited Windsor Castle as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.[21]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Roberts, Monty. The Man Who Listens to Horses. Random House, 1997. ISBN 0-345-42705-X.
  2. ABC Nightline, The Horse Whisperer, Oct. 19, 2005.
  3. Monty Roberts Inc. corporate events.
  4. "Join Up International". Montyroberts.com. http://www.montyroberts.com/jui_about.html. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  5. "Horse Whispers & Lies". Horsewhispersandlies.com. p. Prologue, first page. http://horsewhispersandlies.com. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  6. "Horse Whispers & Lies". Horsewhispersandlies.com. p. Chapter three. http://horsewhispersandlies.com. Retrieved 2008-11-02. "Monty was never an abused child. He and I shared a bedroom. Never once was there ever a hint of reason for me to think that he was being beaten by our father or by anyone else. Monty was very vocal about every little incident that he might consider an injustice against him. He would have screamed like a banshee if he were being beat. I know him. He can say whatever he wants to the rest of the world. But I know the truth." 
  7. "Independents/Chain Bestseller List". NYTimes.com. NY Times. 1998-03-15. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/15/bsp/nonfictioncompare.html. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  8. Roberts, Monty and Christopher Dydyk. Shy Boy: The Horse That Came in from the Wild. HarperCollins, 2000. ISBN 0060932899
  9. "Best Sellers Plus". NYTimes.com. NY Times. 2000-12-24. http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/12/24/bsp/papernonfictioncompare.html. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  10. Roberts, Monty. Horse Sense for People. Penguin Books, 2002. ISBN 0142000973.
  11. Roberts, Monty and Jean Abernethy. From My Hands to Yours. Monty & Pat Roberts Inc., 2002. ISBN 1929256566.
  12. Roberts, Monty. The Horses in My Life. Trafalgar Square Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1570763232.
  13. Roberts, Monty. Ask Monty. Headline Book Publishing, 2007. ISBN 075531722X.
  14. 2005 Documentary, ABC News.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Monty Roberts Honored for Lifetime Achievement in Germany". Montyroberts.com.au. 2005-03-15. http://www.montyroberts.com.au/news.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  16. "Monty Roberts — Backstage Pass on Horse and Country". Uk-tv-guide.com. 2008-10-13. http://uk-tv-guide.com/programme-details/Horse+and+Country/13+October+2008/18:00/Monty+Roberts+-+Backstage+Pass/. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  17. "Deutscher Reiter und Fahrer Verband". Deutscher-reiter-und-fahrer-verband.de. http://www.deutscher-reiter-und-fahrer-verband.de/start.html. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  18. "Your Horse, Issue No. 316, 2008.". http://www.yourhorse.co.uk/The-Mag-Landing/. 
  19. "National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.". http://www.collegerodeo.com/foundation.asp. 
  20. "Roberts's former charge Sabiango retired, to stand in Italy". Thoroughbred Times. 2005-08-18. http://www.thoroughbredtimes.com/breeding-news/2005/August/18/Robertss-former-charge-Sabiango-retired-to-stand-in-Italy.aspx. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  21. "Monty Roberts & Horse Racing Betting". Horseracingbetting.com. 2008-01-29. http://www.horseracingbetting.com/horse-racing-trainers/monty-roberts.html. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 

External links


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