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Booktalking "The Horses in My Life" by Monty Roberts


Monty Roberts was riding horses at a walk, trot, and canter as a 3-year-old boy. He vaguely remembers people saying, "He's only three, and look at him ride!" He won a trophy as a 4-year-old on a strawberry Roan Thoroughbred named Ginger, his first horse. He attempted to save Brownie from his father's cruel horse breaking methods. As a 14-year-old, he trained Mischief himself with natural methods. In addition, he was able to train a mustang whom he never named to accept the saddle, bridle and him as a rider in five days. He returned to camp riding the mustang, and no one believed that it was formerly a wild horse. They thought that he picked up a trained horse from somewhere. He pointed to the horses feet and said that he had never been shod. Anyhow, I guess Monty had access to enough horses because he released the horse into the wild after that. Roberts was elated that his methods had been able to reach a wild horse.

Hey Sam allowed Roberts to break into the Thoroughbred racehorse world which he had been dying to enter. It was an industry in which he stayed for forty years. He has been working for decades to ban the use of whips in horse races, and there has been some progress in limiting their use. Bartlet taught Roberts about vicious horses. He even was able to meet Queen Elizabeth II of England and train one of her fillies!

Monty Roberts' signature training style is called join-up, and it is the hallmark of developing a working partnership with the horse, not a relationship of subjugation and subordination. The thousands of horses he has worked with, but especially the 52 featured in this book, have helped Roberts understand horse psychology. The actions of uninformed people towards horses can result in many psychological problems in horses. Roberts has shown many horses in competitions, and he won many trophies. He has a horse farm called Flag is Up Farms.    

Horses have different personalities, work ethics, levels of intelligence, and talent in different equine sports. Roberts engaged in training horses in a variety of disciplines, including steer wrestling, western riding (including western dressage), Thoroughbred horse racing, and hunt seat. He used a variety of innovative techniques to curtail problematic and dangerous behavior in horses, including refusing to halt and displaying aggressive tendencies towards humans. He pioneered a more efficient way of having horses spin in Western riding classes, and he developed a blanket made out of carpet to use with race horses that fear the starting gate. Since then, thousands of horses have used the blanket, and his style of spinning has been utilized by many other horses and riders.

Johnny Trivio was one of Roberts' favorite horses. He was a blood bay Quarter Horse stallion who was so versatile in the many sports of Western riding that he was undefeated in the many horse shows that he competed in and conquered. The photographs in this book of Roberts' and the many horses that he has known and loved give one a window into the course of his horse training life.

The Horses in My Life by Monty Roberts, 2004

I am happy that I became fluent in horse language during one trail ride on Kline, an-Arab mix. It was something about his beautiful rocking chair canter through the forest on a crisp, autumn day that made me lose my fear of riding (being on a much bigger, stronger animal). The horse was just running for the joy of it, simply being a horse. It was awesome, and I strongly believe that understanding equine psychology leads to a much safer, more harmonious riding experience and relationship with horses. 

I personally do not support the sports of horse racing or steer wrestling because I do not like the way in which the horses and cows are treated. Horses develop physically until they are five or six years old, yet Thoroughbred horses are raced as 3-year-olds.  



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