Monty Roberts: ‘There’s no such thing as natural horsemanship’

  • Ahead of his tour to the UK next week (15 October-5 November), 81-year-old Monty Roberts tells H&H why he owes everything to The Queen, why he doesn't like the term 'natural horsemanship' and why getting older is no bad thing

    On natural horsemanship…

    “There is no such thing as natural horsemanship — there’s nothing natural about wearing a halter, bridle or saddle, or someone sitting on their back. What we have to do is create a partnership where we do something together. My thing is non-violent horsemanship — I have not struck a horse since 1949. Early on in life I could see violence to horses all around me. And so I knew from the time I was five or six years of age that there must be a better way. I knew my life would be obsessed with letting the world know that violence wasn’t the answer.”

    On The Queen

    “It wasn’t until 1989 that I had anybody in the position of a global leader to watch what I do and say that this has to become known by the people of the world.Her Majesty The Queen is 100% responsible for allowing me to go global. Without her I would still be in California dribbling along as a cowboy, telling people not to beat up horses. She is a fantastic human being — maybe the best that’s ever walked this earth.”

    On being in his 80s…

    “You set aside a lot of things in your later years, like greed and the desire to win championships. And if you love horses, you really become obsessed with leaving the world a better place for them. Not only that, but people are far more willing to accept the information from someone who is 81, because they know there is no other motivation. I’m not trying to take anybody’s job or trying to make money. I have no motivation except to improve the lives of these horses.”

    On Horse & Hound

    “My time with H&H magazine goes way back to a time when you had Michael Clayton as your editor. He had a horse and he brought the horse to me and I started it for him. He was quite a challenging horse and he named him Monty.”

    On mistakes…

    “We’re still making a lot of mistakes. We have people who are considered to be high ranking clinicians in our industry who are on these social media sites advocating violence to horses, telling them where to hit horses and how to pull them down to the ground, and how to do terrible things to horses in the name of breaking them and causing them to stop fighting back.”

    On social media…

    “Nowadays it’s really easy to make better measurements about how a demo has gone because of social media. I will be intent upon studying how people took my demos so that I can bring them the information that they’re looking for.”

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    On tense moments…

    “I did a demo one time in Sussex when we were absolutely sold out and they were bringing in extra chairs. It was about 10 minutes before the first horse was meant to come in and the lights went out — the whole building was absolutely black dark. So wow, there’s me, I have an enormous audience and I have a responsibility to the audience. What the heck do I do? So I remembered outside there was a man barbecuing a pig on a spit and that he had a little generator and light for his cooking. I asked the guy if we could borrow his generator and we shone the light down into the centre of the round pen. I did a join-up in the round pen with this glow of light and the people loved it. It was certainly a memorable evening.”

    Don’t miss the full interview with Monty Roberts in the 6 October issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out now

    Monty Roberts’ ‘The ‘Living Legend’ Tour’ runs from 15 October to 5 November 2016 in the UK. Visit www.montyroberts.com for more information

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