“The Dog Whisperer” is a popular television show in which a man uses his ability to communicate with dogs to help and train them. Along comes the book “The Man Who Listens to Horses” which tells a similar story about a man who is able to communicate with horses. Monty Roberts is the author, and this is truly a fascinating book that will take the reader on a journey into the internal workings of a horse’s mind. In this article we will not only review this book, but offer some glimpses into some of the highlights as well.
Monty Roberts has a story to tell; not only of himself, but of the horses he loves so much. Monty grew up in an abusive household, and his father was abusive not only to him, but to his horses as well. As Monty grew older he started to formulate a different viewpoint. There must be a better way to communicate with the horses that he loves so much, and he was determined to find out what it was.
The “join-up” technique is the author’s technique to break and train horses. The book goes into great detail on the process, but here it is in a nutshell. You need a round pen and an unbroken horse to start. The handler will stand in the middle of the pen in a very authoritative and imposing way, while the horse is encouraged to run around the pen in attempts to get away. During the process the handler will be looking for signs that the horse wishes to communicate with him. These three signs are:
The ear of the horse that is closest to the handler will turn towards him/her.
The horse will begin a process of licking and chewing.
As the horse runs around the pen he will move his head closer to the ground.
When the handler is assured that the horse wishes to communicate, he/she will turn his back and start to gradually move away. The horse will then come closer to the handler, and permit the handler to touch him. Now that contact has been established, the saddling, bridling, mounting, and riding process can begin.
The book takes us on a journey into Robert’s life (in addition to the “join-up” technique). We learn of the various stages of his life and the events that have helped to shape his view of horses, and the techniques he has developed along the way. Some of the highlights are:
-The author’s successful childhood riding career
-The author’s relationship with his father
-The Thoroughbred racehorse facility that the author developed
-His meeting with Queen Elizabeth II of England
-Wild deer and the use of the “join-up” technique
-His experience with mustang horses
-Three of his favorite horses: Dually, Brownie, and Johnny Tivio
Anyone who loves horses and is looking for a humane way to communicate with them and train them should check out this book. Read it over and let the information wrap around your mind.