by Alex Ryder
My name is Alex Ryder, I am a professional horse specialist. I use methods of backing and breaking that are very similar to Mr Roberts. I have a question for you.
Trying to convince people that you can handle horses in a less brutal way than the conventional is difficult enough. I work in Holland and am faced with many who won’t believe their eyes, and with the growing concerns about Roberts’ reputation, ‘how can genuine “horse whisperers” be taken seriously now?’
I think it’s so unfair that one man with all his faults, that gave awareness to the world that being nice to horses works, can tarnish the reputation of those who have been using this method long before Roberts became a “celebrity”. I have just recently read his book, and visited his web site, quite impressive. But I would like to tell people my personal opinion about Monty.
The first time I heard of Roberts was when I watched the “Shy boy” programme shown on the BBC, at the time I was watching with a friend. I was not impressed, and it was obvious to me that the horse was not ‘wild’ and his handling was a little rough. Neither my friend nor I was convinced of the validity of the event.
I have had personal contact with people who have had horses taken to one of Roberts’ UK clinics. I was told by one person that she had three horses for Roberts to choose from: the first was halter broken, and had been handled alot, the second was just halter broken, but not handled very much, and the third was completely green, and had only been brought in from the field just for this clinic. Apparently Roberts refused the green horse and chose the first one, and in front of a crowd of over 1000 people he declared that “This is a wild horse, that has not been touched”. The protests of the owner were not addresed, and the following day the horse in question was exactly the same as before.
Because of this and all the other stories about Roberts, that I hate being referred to as a “whisperer” and prefer to be called a ‘specialist’, but what is worse is that there are people out there that call themselves “horse whisperers” that have a little less knowledge about horse behavior than they do about sub atomic physics. I have been to clinics held by these people, and from what I observed, anyone who has a rudimentry understanding of horses, will consider these people as frauds. This a warning to anyone who is interested in using alernative methods of handling horses – If the trainer in question calls themselves a “horse whisperer” dont be fooled by instant results. True specialists know that it’s the long term disposition of the horse and the attitude of the rider/handler that is the most important factor in starting and training a horse.
Don’t be suprised if you end up being dissapointed with the results. A horse can be backed and broken in less than an hour, that’s the easy part. It’s from that moment that the real work begins. I can teach you to back a horse in 30 minutes, but I can’t teach you to change your attitude. If you don’t, ongoing training will be less than useless. I just hope that with all the bad press, people like me don’t have to suffer the stigma.
As a last message, I read on your site that Roberts was attacked by a horse in the roundpen. For me, to have a stallion want to attack me while in a roundpen, is unbelievable! I would have to really upset the horse, and if Roberts is any good there is NO WAY that he could be chased out of the pen. I have used a roundpen on countless horses by now, and I have never faced aggresion on this level EVER! While I admire Roberts for the awareness he hes brought to the world of horses, I find it so dissapointing that he let comercialism rule the lives of the horses he deals with.