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The Man Who Listens to Horses (2 Cassettes)

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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 30 minutes. His powers may seem like magic, but his amazing 'horse sense' is based on a lifetime of experience. Roberts started riding at the age of two, and at the age of 13 he went alone into the high deserts of ...
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Overview

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 30 minutes. His powers may seem like magic, but his amazing 'horse sense' is based on a lifetime of experience. Roberts started riding at the age of two, and at the age of 13 he went alone into the high deserts of Nevada to study mustangs in the wild. What he learned there changed his life forever. In The Man Who Listens to Horses, he tells about his early days as a rodeo rider in California, his violent horse-trainer father, who was unwilling to accept Monty's unconventional training methods, his friendship with James Dean, his struggle to be accepted in the professional horse-training community, and the invitation that changed his life -- to demonstrate his method of "join-up" to the Queen of England. From his groundbreaking work with horses, Roberts has acquired an unprecedented understanding of nonverbal communication, an understanding that applies to human relationships as well. He has shown that between parent and child, employee and employer (he's worked with over 250 corporations, including General Motors, IBM, Disney, and Merrill Lynch), and abuser and abused, there are forms of communication far stronger than the spoken word and that they are accessible to all who will learn to listen.
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Editorial Reviews

Horse and Rider
Fascinating. . .reads like the most thrilling adventure story.
New York Times Book Review
Riveting and inspirational. . . Will first break, then mend your heart.
San Francisco Chronicle
Roberts' story is more fascinating and profound than any told in fiction.
Sporting Life
Extraordinary. . .wisdom born of a tough and immensely varied life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This book is important reading for those interested in communication, particularly interspecies communication and linguistics. Growing up in the late 1940s on his father's horse farm, which also had a rodeo area, Roberts began to develop his revolutionary view of horse behavior in his early teens by observing the wild mustangs in the Nevada high desert. He came to know what a horse was thinking, he claims, by noting the position of its body, head, tongue, ears, legs and tail, as well as the focus of its eyes. He held firm to his insight despite the violent opposition of his father, who felt his son's notion threatened everything he had built his business on, namely that a horse had to be 'broken.' On one occasion, Roberts' father beat him so badly that he had to be hospitalized. But in time, the son scored many successes with horses he had 'started' (trained) rather than 'broke,' and he began to acquire followers. Among them was Queen Elizabeth II, an ardent horsewoman, who witnessed Roberts' demonstrations, became a convert and instituted his system for royal mounts. Roberts, who has worked as a movie stuntman since he was two and performed in rodeos, has 'reformed' many problem animals. How he learned to listen to horses, to communicate nonverbally, is the central feature of his convincing book, which will certainly elicit controversy.
Wash. Post Book World
Quite a story. . .He takes us from the moment he learned to listen to horses through the development of his skill at 'gentling' them.
Kirkus Reviews
The surprisingly complex and lively memoir of a successful and influential horse trainer who helped pioneer nonviolent methods of breaking horses in. Some of the book's vigor and pace may have to do with the fact that Lucy Grealy is the co-author. The narrative begins in 1948 when Roberts, then 13, spent time studying wild horses in the Nevada desert. He applied what he learned there to radically new ideas about how wild horses could be trained and came to be an important figure in horse racing circles. His portrait of the business of breeding and training horses is frank and fascinating, but the book's most memorable passages cover the rodeos and horse business in the west as it was in the author's youth, and include a haunting portrait of his violent, racist father and of some of the other remarkable figures Roberts knew (including a young James Dean). Over and above everything, though, is Roberts's surpassing love for horses, captured here in his evocations of the horses he has trained over a career spanning four decades.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679460442
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/5/1997
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Abridged, 2 cassettes, 3 hrs.
  • Product dimensions: 4.41 (w) x 7.04 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Monty Roberts has spent his life working with horses, and has applied his amazing communication skills to everything from rodeo riding to corporate consulting. He currently lives in Solvang, California.
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Read an Excerpt

'It all dates from those summers alone in the high desert, me lying on my belly and watching wild horses with my binoculars for hours at a time. Straining to see in the moonlight, striving to fathom mustang ways, I knew instinctively I had chanced upon something important but could not know that it would shape my life. In 1948 I was a boy of 13 learning the language of horses. . . .' -- From The Man Who Listens to Horses
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First Chapter

CHAPTER 1

The Call of the Wild Horses

It all dates from those summers alone in the high desert, me lying on my belly and watching wild horses with my binoculars for hours at a time. Straining to see in the moonlight, striving to fathom mustang ways, I knew instinctively I had chanced upon something important but could not know that it would shape my life. In 1948 I was a boy of 13 learning the language of horses.

In the wilderness of Nevada, the soil is silky and cool to the touch at dawn, and at midday will burn your skin. My summer vigils were marked off by the heat of the day and the cold of the night and a profound sense of solitude. It felt right to be there under those vast skies on that dove-gray moonscape in the company of wild and wary horses. I remember, especially, a dun mare with a dark stripe along her back and zebra stripes above her knees. Clearly the matriarch of the herd, she was disciplining an unruly young colt who had been roughing up foals and mares. I vividly recall how she squared up to him, her eyes on his eyes, her spine rigid, her head pointed arrowlike at the adolescent. No longer full of himself, he knew exactly what she meant. Three hundred yards from the herd, the outcast would know by her body position when he could return to the fold. If she faced him, he could not. If she showed him part of her body's long axis, he could begin to consider it. Before her act of forgiveness had to come signs of his penitence. The signals he gave back to her -- the seeking of forgiveness -- would later be fundamental to a technique I would develop to introduce young horses gently to saddle and rider. It was the mustangs who taught me their silent body grammar, and the dun mare was my first teacher.

I grew up in Salinas, California, where wild horses were annually put to other uses. In 1948, the Wild Horse Race was a featured part of the Salinas Rodeo. And because I lived in a house on the rodeo grounds (or competition grounds, as I called it) where my parents ran a riding school, rodeo was part of our lives. Normally, wild horses were cheap and plentiful. Doc Leach, a short, bespectacled man who was our dentist and also president of the association that governed the competition grounds, would have called the usual people and said, in effect, Come on, folks, I need 150 mustangs to be delivered to Salinas by July the first and it would happen. But with horsemeat used so extensively during the war, mustang numbers had dwindled significantly, and by 1947 the herds in northern California, Nevada, and southern Oregon had diminished by as much as two-thirds, with the horses now located almost exclusively in Nevada. That year Doc Leach's calls had fallen on deaf ears. What mustangs? the Nevada ranchers had countered. You come up here and see if you can get them yourself. The wild horse race was usually no race at all but a kind of maniacal musical chairs played with mustangs, but that year the Salinas Rodeo Association had to scrape together what they could find, and so it was a fairly tame wild horse race, with too few horses and too many old ones to put on the show required.

The following year I saw an opportunity to provide Doc Leach with a service that would both salvage the reputation of the wild horse race and save the lives of a hundred or more horses. I was only 13; he might not listen. But I was driven by both a fierce young entrepreneurial spirit and my love of the horses. In previous years, after the rodeo, the mustangs were sent to Crows Landing to be slaughtered for dog food. If I could somehow make them worth more than that...

What if, I proposed to Doc Leach, I go to Nevada and get the mustangs? Doc Leach's eyebrows popped up above his glasses. How you going to do that, walk? No, I've made a lot of friends from trips to horse shows there. I know I can ask for help from the Campbell Ranch. Bill Dorrance, a remarkable horseman in his mid-fifties who would become my mentor, had contacts at the ranch and would make the arrangements. Ralph and Vivian Carter, good horse people and friends of the family, had business to conduct near there and had agreed to help. Finally, I had a truck driver lined up. Good for you, Doc Leach came back, a hint of mockery in his voice. I was, after all, little more than a boy. I'd ride up to the ranges with some of the day hands from the Campbell Ranch, and I bet I could secure 150 head. Head of what? Chickens or horses? He had a sophisticated sense of humour. Strong and healthy mustangs, Dr. Leach. I explained to him that my younger brother, Larry, and I could care for them at the competition grounds until the rodeo was held. They'll be ready on the spot, with the pair of us on hand to see they're all right. Doc Leach shifted his pipe from one corner of his mouth to the other and blinked a couple of times. That meant he was cogitating. Finally he asked, What's in it for you? I was thinking, sir, that after the rodeo Larry and I could break in the mustangs and maybe have an auction sale, so they'd be worth more than Crows bait. That was the euphemism for animals taken to Crows Landing for slaughter. This year, I told him, he would not have to send any animals to the abattoir. There'd definitely be more than a few that would go through the sale ring ridden by my brother or myself and maybe provide someone with a useful mount, sir. He was still cogitating, so I went on. And perhaps the rodeo association could show a profit at the end of the day, more than the slaughter value anyway. Doc Leach weighed the arrangement, turning it over in his mind. He was like the buyer of a used car, kicking the tires and looking for the hidden defect. When he could find none, he agreed.

He offered to call up Irvin Bray and contract him to provide me with transport for the return journey. Finally, we agreed that the net proceeds of any sales were to be divided equally between the rodeo association and the Roberts brothers.

I was on my way to Nevada to gather 150 head of mustangs. It would prove to be the most important opportunity of my life: to study horses in their natural groups, in the wild. For the next three years I would be crossing the Sierra Nevada to the high desert beyond, to live alongside wild herds for several weeks at a time. From that experience I would begin to learn a language, a silent language which I have subsequently termed Equus. With that as a springboard, I would assemble a framework of ideas and principles that would guide my life's work with horses. I would have none of this were it not for my time as a teenager spent in the company of mustangs.

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