Chance to be inspired as ‘horse whisperer’ heads for Norfolk

Monty Roberts in action Monty Roberts in action

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
9:50 AM

He has millions of fans all over the world – and an incredible 70,000 of those are four-legged.

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Monty Roberts with instructor Kelly MarksMonty Roberts with instructor Kelly Marks

That is the astonishing number of horses Monty Roberts says he has worked with over six decades of using his own unique non-violent training methods that have become so inspirational throughout the equine world that he has become the one man that everyone from racehorse trainers to Olympians to our own monarch turns to for advice and guidance.

Now, on a whistlestop tour of the UK, the man who has been dubbed “the horse whisperer” comes to Norfolk’s Easton College for one night in a tour of 10 demonstration dates to spread his message to an audience that could range from eventers to pony clubbers to Sunday hackers.

They will all have one thing in common – a desire to have a better relationship with horses.

It was his bestselling autobiography – The Man Who Listens to Horses –published in 1996 that thrust the Californian horse trainer into the limelight and changed his life forever.

horse whisperer Monty Roberts ahead of his UK tour when he visits Easton Collegehorse whisperer Monty Roberts ahead of his UK tour when he visits Easton College

But he actually discovered his deep understanding of horses and how to communicate with them as a child in the 30s and 40s, and when he was just 13 years old he took himself off into the deserts of Nevada to watch mustangs in the wild.

Growing up with an abusive father who used violent training methods on their own horses to “break” them, he gradually developed a silent language, using techniques that mimic the way horses naturally treat each other, to create harmonious partnerships between horse and rider.

He called it Join-Up and with his methods he began a successful career in thoroughbred racing throughout the US, working with and training many champions, combining this with a job in Hollywood as a stunt rider, often in Western movies.

Interested in his methods, he was invited by the Queen in 1989 to come to the Royal Stud at Sandringham to work with her young horses and it was she who encouraged him to write his first book.

They began a friendship that continues today and when the EDP spoke to Monty last week he was at Sandringham in the middle of saddling up one of her future racehorses for the first time.

“It is like working in a candy shop here,” he said.

“I am working with some fantastic youngsters who will go into racing and backing them for the first time. I just got a join-up so we are just about to tack up.

“The Queen knows every move. I can tell you she is very involved and we are very much in tune with one another.

“She is a fantastic student of horsemanship and in my opinion she is the one world leader who has had the greatest influence in man’s relationship with animals more than any other.”

He goes on to talk about one of his recent success stories – and from the enthusiasm in his 77-year-old voice you would think it was his first.

Back in February he was called to help with a show horse, and he had just seen that same horse win the top accolade at the Horse of the Year Show.

Pearly King, ridden by Simon Charlesworth, took the supreme horse crown with an immaculate performance.

Monty said: “In February I saw this beautiful horse with some unbelievable issues that had had to be excused from two competitions because of some atrocious behaviour patterns.

“Simon accomplished everything I asked him to do and then raised it to a new level.

“I was sat there watching my work played out in front of my eyes. So many people have said it does not work, it is a load of hooey, a bunch of baloney but it worked right there.

“At the Norfolk demonstration I will be doing nothing different than I did with that horse.

“Our demographic is heavily female, middle-aged, coming back to riding after giving it up as a child. They want to have fun with their horse.

“Most are not interested in competition but want to have a good relationship with their horse and want their horse to respect them.

“A major part of it is that they have lost their confidence.

“Previously, their training has been led by people who profess violence as a solution – ‘give him a good crack with the whip’.

“Sadly, the whip is still the number one piece of riding equipment sold today.

“Violence has no place in training a horse which is a flight animal who already suspects our intentions are bad and they are generally right. We need to ask, not demand, respect from them and that is not without discipline.

“There has been three or four horses in my career which people have given up on.

“Every single horse has had help but some have been just too mishandled to get through it. But that is out of about 70,000. I have put the first saddle and first rider on more than 12,000 horses.”

At his demonstration, Monty will use his methods on a variety of local “problem” horses.

Issues may include difficulty clipping, non-loaders, spookiness, napping, kicking or simply a nice young horse to start with his first rider.

Whatever they are presented with on the day, Monty and his first instructor Kelly Marks will show how his intelligent and effective techniques can help to produce a willing equine partner both in and out of the saddle.

Monty Roberts is at Easton College on tomorrow, 7.30pm to 10.30pm.

To book tickets visit www.intelligenthorsemanship.co.uk or call 01488 71300.

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