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Leaving the World a Better Place For Horses and People

Updated on February 10, 2014

"Join-Up" Comes Naturally to Wild Horses

Photographer: tvvoodoo: Attribution License: stock.xchng Image License Agreement.
Photographer: tvvoodoo: Attribution License: stock.xchng Image License Agreement.

The Man Who Listens To Horses

I had horses when I was growing up, so a few years ago when I saw Monty Roberts’ book The Man Who Listens to Horses, I picked it up expecting to have a pleasant read of an instructional nature from a horseman who had come up with an innovative way of training horses. I found the book to be all that and much more.

I am also the child of a hate and rage filled abusive alcoholic. I found that Monty Roberts and I had that in common. Monty was severely abused by his father who was an old-fashioned, abusive horse breaker. These were the methods Monty was taught and subjected to himself as a child. His father used him to promote his horse breaking business and riding school by putting him into rodeos and riding competitions starting at four years of age. As a child and teen, Monty traveled all over the US promoting his father’s business and holding horse training clinics using his father’s methods. He made a lot of money for his father and never saw any of it himself. Regardless of all this, he rose above the abuse. He was inspired to create his own nonviolent training methods and now devotes his life to spreading his message of nonviolence.

Monty says that his goal in life is to leave the world a better place for horses and for people. He spent his childhood traveling spreading his father’s message and now he spends a great deal of time away from his home, his horses, his staff and his farm, to keep talking, spreading his message of nonviolence, and listening.

Leave The World A Better Place For Critters

Dogs, Donkeys & Circus Performers: Hilarous stories of animal adventures on a path to making the world a better place for all creatures big, small, four & two legged.
Dogs, Donkeys & Circus Performers: Hilarous stories of animal adventures on a path to making the world a better place for all creatures big, small, four & two legged.

Hilarous stories of animal adventures on a path to making the world a better place for all creatures; big, small, four legged and two legged. However, the book is not just about animals, its about thinking outside the box, checking your ego at the gate, living a purposeful life that benefits others, and most importantly laughing through life's challenges.


Monty’s idea of listening to horses was born when he was just thirteen years old. He was sent to Nevada to round up some horses for the Salinas Rodeo Association Wild Horse Race. He watched the wild horses and soon saw that they had definite patterns of interaction. He saw repetitive body language that communicated relaxation, affection, and annoyance. He saw the wild horses set boundaries with each other and make moves that indicated fear as well as acceptance. The longer he watched them, the more Monty knew that he could use this information as a training aid. He hoped that it would enable him to establish partnerships with horses instead of breaking their spirits.

When Monty returned to his father’s riding school, he was eager to share his discoveries with his father. He assumed that his father would be glad to leave his abusive methods behind. When he showed his father that he could start a horse in less than half an hour without violence, he was beaten with a chain and accused of being a “queer”. The beating landed him in the emergency room, as had many previous beatings.

Monty dropped his discovery for the time-being and continued working for his father’s school. He became a champion western horseman and Hollywood stunt man. Yet, he never forgot his discovery. When he grew older, it became the basis for his “Join-Up” concept which has since grown into a method of communicating with children, co-workers, family, and friends, as well as horses.

As an adult, Monty naturally continued working with horses. He became a well-known and well-respected trainer of Thoroughbred race horses. As his reputation and success grew, he was able to open his own training ranch, Flag Is Up Farms, in 1966. Monty and his wife, Pat, became the number one trainers of two year-old race horses and worked at the Hollywood Park Racetrack for eighteen years.

Monty’s reputation as a gifted horse trainer spread far and wide. In the 1980’s Monty was contacted by Queen Elizabeth II, who needed some help with her horses. She asked Monty to come to England and demonstrate his Join-Up method to the trainers in her stable. She was very impressed with his work, and she strongly encouraged him to write his first book, The Man Who Listens To Horses. It was published in 1996.

A runaway, best-seller, The Man Who Listens to Horses sold more than five million copies. Suddenly Monty was in the limelight. Horse lovers and the media called day and night asking for advice and interviews. Both PBS and the BBC created and showed documentaries about Monty’s work, and fans clamored for more books and more information. In response, Monty has spent years of his life traveling all over the world giving demonstrations and lectures and spreading his message of non-violence.

His demonstrations are so affecting that people who have experienced abuse often faint while watching him bond with a horse and gain cooperation without ever raising his voice or a whip. He inspires so much trust that, after he speaks both abusers and those who have been abused come to him to seek advice and assistance. Monty’s personal experience resonates with those of us who have experienced abuse. It has the ring of truth and of hope. He has seen horses “broken” with violent, traditional methods. He has experienced abuse himself. He has survived and thrived and created a new path. People trust him to know the way out.

In addition to his work with horses, Monty and his wife, Pat raised three children of their own. They also raised forty-seven foster children, many of whom stay in touch, visit frequently and thank Monty and Pat for helping them build good lives. In his book Join Up: Horse Sense for People, Monty explains how he and Pat used his Join-Up methods to succeed with their many troubled foster children. Because I am a Behavioral Science specialist myself and have raised foster children with behavior problems, I can tell you that Monty’s methods are very sound and innovative. I learned a great deal from reading this book.

According to his website, Monty’s demonstrations have raised more than $160,000,000 for horse related charities and riding therapy programs. Monty Roberts Equestrian Academy at Flag Is Up Farms is continuously training students in the use of Monty’s non-violent Join-Up Method. Additionally, Monty is in great demand to lecture in such diverse venues as juvenile detention centers and Fortune 500 boardrooms. His methods have proven successful when used with any living being!

Monty’s fifth book is called The Horses In My Life. I have not yet read it, but I am eager to. It promises to be an enjoyable and enlightening collection of horse stories from the man who loves and listens to horses - the man whose goal in life is “to leave the world a better place than I found it, for horses and for people, too.”


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  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas

    Thanks! I would love to meet him! You are very fortunate! :)

  • irtkris profile image

    irtkris 7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

    Great Hub. I had the privilege of Monty working with one of my horses at a clinic. It was awesome to watch the transformation.

  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

    Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you will read Monty's books! :)

  • BkCreative profile image

    BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

    Great review - and even better when the reviewer can personalize it. Well done - and thanks!

  • profile image

    C. C. Riter 8 years ago

    An amazing story indeed, thanks