Monty Roberts – the man who listens to horses

By Charlotte Bastiaanse

An extraordinary horseman, Monty Roberts is a common household name among equestrian families. For those who don’t know, Roberts is an award-winning horse trainer, best-selling author, and a stunt man. Roberts is also the founder of the equine training technique, Join-Up.

Achievements

Throughout his life, Roberts has won numerous awards and three of his books have made the New York Times best-seller list. Roberts has received multiple recognitions for his contributions to the understanding of horses and horse behaviour.

Roberts was contacted by Queen Elizabeth II to share his Join-Up method with her staff. His book The Man Who Listens to Horses, was published in 1996 and went on to spread the word of Roberts’ training methods, selling approximately five million copies. Since its release, Roberts and his methods have become a worldwide phenomenon among horse owners and riders.

His achievements also span into the academic field as 2002 saw Roberts receiving an honorary doctorate in animal psychology from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and the same qualification from the University of Parma, Italy, in 2005.

Monty Roberts today

Roberts’ methods are applauded by horsemen and non-horsemen worldwide. Today, Roberts tours to many countries demonstrating and sharing his technique with the respective equestrian communities. Roberts promotes the message of non-violent approaches when it come to the breaking in of ‘raw’ horses. To date, Roberts has worked with over 15000 horses.

Monty Roberts with a horse wearing his patented Dually Halter

Join-Up

Robert’s training technique, Join-Up came about while he was tracking wild Mustangs in Nevada. Roberts named the silent language between horses “Equus”. The Join-Up technique was initially developed to guide people away from the violent yet accepted methods of breaking a horse in. Roberts’ methods take into consideration the natural behaviours of horses and apply them to the training of ‘raw’ horses.

The Join-Up technique allows horses to willingly accept the bridle, saddle and rider, without confining them to the boundaries created by forced obedience. The training starts in a space such as a lunge ring with the trainer demonstrating behaviour that a horse would experience in the wild. The horse is offered the choice to flee or to ‘Join-Up’. The pivotal moment in Join-Up occurs when the horse decides to willingly follow the trainer, thereby accepting his or her leadership. Join-Up works to create a mutual respect and clear communication between horse and rider.

Join-Up has proven to be an effective training method for horses from various backgrounds and disciplines.

Monty Roberts – the man who listens to horses

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