Sunday, December 3, 2023

Famous horse gentler to train with voice rather than violence

June 18, 2001

Forget about all those John Wayne Westerns showing cowboys breaking wild horses.

Monty Roberts doesn’t need to use violence to tame a wild horse.

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Roberts, a world-famous horse gentler, will be at the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education.

The money from ticket sales will go to Children and Horses United in Movement. The charity offers children the chance to experience the “world of horses.”

Roberts said what he can achieve in 30 minutes usually takes a traditional trainer an average of more than three weeks to accomplish.

“It is a nonconfrontational, nonviolent method I discovered using gestures and sound,” Roberts said.

Christine Skelly, an associate professor and an equine extension specialist, said Roberts is very well-known to people in and out of the horse community.

“He was one of the people who was used as inspiration for ‘The Horse Whisperer,’” she said.

Skelly said a gentler uses his or her body and voice to counteract the horse’s natural reflex for fight or flight.

“To the observer it is very hard to tell how the trainer is producing the behavior they are producing,” she said.

Roberts said for about 8,000 years, trainers have been using violence or pain to train horses. The method Roberts uses persuades the horse to accept a saddle, bridle and rider without pain.

“I can simply say my work and the message of my work is violence is never the answer,” Roberts said. “It is my belief that we were not born to say you must or I’ll hurt you.”

The horse gentler will be working with at least two remedial horses, such as buckers, kickers, biters and bad loaders - a horse that refuses to go into a trailer. He said that is the No. 1 remedial problem.

Nicole Barber, administrative manager of the pavilion, said the staff is excited to have Roberts.

“He is an obviously famous trainer; I think students will find it educational,” she said.


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