In his nonfiction best sellers, The Man Who Listens to Horses, and Shy Boy, The Horse that Came in from the Wild, California author and horse trainer, Monty Roberts, claims to be the son of an abusive, racist, killer. Those accusations against Marvin Roberts were the impetus for Horse Whispers & Lies. True horsemen and women have always understood that horses and humans bond. For years, the secret of this bonding was quietly passed from one generation to the next. Misunderstood by most, it didn't have a name. There is now a human movement to learn this gentle art of communing with horses. This approach to horsemanship has earned many titles. Some call it "natural horsemanship," others like the term coined by novelist Nicolas Evans, "horse whispering." Whatever the name, the message is similar: humans can effectively and gently communicate with horses.
Long before there was talk of horse whisperers and natural horsemanship, however, gifted horsemen and women understood and used similar principals in their training programs. The concept is not new, but methodologies, techniques, and nomenclatures vary among those who share their skills and horse savvy. The be-kind message delivered by these clinicians is beneficial to the industry, but it is a travesty of morality that one such crusader's fame is based on lies, trickery, and the demeaning of others. Such is the nature of the author Monty Roberts.
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What People are Saying About This
Horse Whispers & Lies answers the question it has emblazoned across its cover - Did Monty Roberts Trade Truth for Glory? - with a resounding 'Yes!' "It details Monty Roberts' life and times in his early years, the years in which he says he was viciously abused by his father, a man he describes as a racist and a murderer as well as an abuser of horses. The new book, written by Debra Ann Ristau and Joyce Renebome, Monty Roberts' cousin and aunt respectively, successfully counters, point by point, tales told by Monty Roberts himself in his own best-seller The Man Who Listens to Horses.
"Horse Whispers & Lies is remarkable for the wealth of historical research and interviews with people who knew and loved the Roberts during Monty's childhood. If you can believe what each and every person quoted in the book states, then Monty Roberts parents were truly larger than life. They appear as extraordinary role models for all their horse riding students, friends and associates. They taught their students self-esteem and moral values that these children carried into adulthood and then passed on to their own children. Monty Roberts' parents were so revered, in fact, that the Red Pony Stall Exhibit at the John Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California has been recently dedicated in their honor.
"So the question comes, how is it that Monty Roberts is the only person not to have been so positively affected by Marvin and Marguerite Roberts? It is indeed an interesting question and I'm not sure that Monty's own brother, Larry, who is heavily quoted in the book even knows the answer.
"Although Larry did not contribute in the writing of the book, he may as well have, because his quotes are some of the most powerful in their indictment of Monty's tall tales and forgotten memories. It is Larry who sets the record straight on important points from Monty's imaginary trip to Nevada, where Monty says he learned the behavior of wild mustangs, to an imaginary boxcar that hauled Monty and his best horses to shows around the country, to imaginary parental abuses, to the imaginary abuse of horses by his father, to myriad other issues.
"The authors even cast doubt on Monty's story of how he came to own his state-of-the-art training facility Flag Is Up Farm in Solvang, California. What is especially remarkable, though, is reading the words of Marvin E. Roberts in his 1957 book Horse and Horsemen Training and seeing how Monty's own training techniques merely parrot what his father had previously established: fair and safe methods using line work in a round pen for starters. Perhaps Monty Roberts thought no one would ever drag out an old copy of his father's book to compare notes.
"Monty Roberts is painted as a spoiled child who was never happy enough with all the sacrifices his parents made for him. He is painted as a temperamental and greedy soul whose own actions caused death to one of his own horses and an injury to another's horse. And lastly he is painted as a man with an enormously unnatural ego. There is a passage at the end of the book, a letter to Monty from another cousin of his named Cheri, it does answer the qauestion of "Why" Monty Roberts would choose lies over truth, it is because his parents were larger than life, people whose talents Monty knew he could never exceed. And yet so much wanted to do just that. So he tore them down to build himself up to be larger than life as well.
"But as much as the book is an indictment of Monty Roberts, it is also a glorification of two remarkable people, Marvin and Marguerite Roberts, his parents, and a mini-history of Salinas, California in the forties and fifties during which time his parents ran a horseback riding school on the rodeo grounds there. The parents' history itself spans fifty years, however, and the book is chock full of interesting first hand accounts by relatives, friends, students, and business associates.
"I have heard charges by Monty Roberts' supporters that the authors of Horse Whispers & Lies are 'greedy' or that they are trying to 'cash in on Monty Roberts' fame and want to make a killing by selling their book.' But, isn't that precisely what Monty Roberts himself has done in defaming his parents and exaggerating or simply making up stories in order to sell his own 'non-fiction' book (not to mention videos, caps, tee-shirts, posters, live demonstrations, etc.)? There are some people who insist that the end always justifies the means. Others cannot fathom such a corruption of truth and honesty. Monty Roberts has claimed that his ends - the humane treatment of horses - is all that really matters. Whatever happened to: "Honor thy mother and thy father" and "Thou shalt not lie?" Exaggeration, lying, omissions and defamation: what an extraordinary means to an end! And money, while being a formidable motivator to many, is not the sole motivator to all.
"I previously read The Man Who Listens to Horses and found it an interesting, even, exciting at times treatise but it is clearly as fiction as is the man himself. So, for all those people who read and loved The Man Who Listens to Horses, I urge them to read Horse Whispers & Lies. Because, as Ristau and Renebome so eloquently put it, 'truth matters.'"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is a must read for anyone who loves horses. Unless of course, you have fallen under the familiar spell of this charismatic con artist and have become blind to the truth.
These people should write for The National Enquirer. This is the kind of disgusting trash that belongs in supermarket tabloids, not in a book. Shame on the publisher. The authors should find something constructive to write about, not go around bashing people with lies and half-truths.