The following is an approximate transcript of the Show.
Monty Roberts is one of the men whose insights and gifts in engaging with horses inspired the character Tom Booker, played by Robert Redford, in the movie The Horse Whisperer.
Have you ever fallen in love with a movie so much that you feel as though you wanted to live within it? Not necessarily within the storyline, but perhaps just within the setting, or the time period, of the movie. I know someone who, for example, after seeing the movie The Horse Whisperer for the first time, travelled a long way to try to find a similar feeling of open space and peace.
Maybe a movie awakens something that was already there within us to begin with. Maybe it allows us to explore a certain part of ourselves. Maybe it simply recalls a treasured memory. Or, perhaps it opens up to us an entire new world, one that we hadn’t even thought of before.
It is understandable how the mountains and fields and sky and horses, themselves characters in their own right within the movie, might make someone want to find their way to Montana. And arriving on the ranch of the Booker family, stand alone there with their two feet planted solidly, on the ground. Or, mounted on a chestnut brown horse, look out over that magnificent landscape and breath mountain air. And know, perhaps above all else, that they had arrived home.
As you will likely remember, the 1998 movie, based upon the novel by Nicolas Evans of the same title, was about a “horse whisperer” who heals a horse named Pilgrim and a teenage girl named Grace. The girl and horse had together been involved in an horrific accident, in which Grace loses her best girlfriend and part of her own leg, and the horse is injured to the point where the veterinarian, and others at the scene, wanted to put the animal down.
The horse whisperer, however, finds a way to heal them both. Tom Booker was based on a composite of real-life men, who over the years have applied their gifts of understanding and gentle touch to their relationships with horses. Our guest today, Monty Roberts, was one of those men.
Thus, what seems to draw us into that Montana landscape in the movie is not only the magnificence of its open vistas, incredible sky and majestic mountains, but also the deep-rooted insights of the character Tom Booker. His are insights not only into horse behaviour ... but also into human nature too. It is this double sidedness of the ability of Tom Booker to heal both horse and girl that seems magical here. This ability to connect, to listen, to understand and to care, [pause] to reach both a traumatized horse and a no less traumatized teenaged girl, is a powerful display of compassion, understanding, and ultimately, healing. Booker does ask things of both Pilgrim and Grace. They have to want to be healed. But that healing, significantly, seems to derive ultimately from Tom’s own self-knowledge and peace.
We find this same attention to both horse and human in the book written by Monty Roberts, entitled The Man Who Listens To Horses. Herein, Monty describes the way that he commences his relationships with “green” or “wild” – unridden horses. But he also uses similar ideas to understand and connect with humans.
In part, Monty Roberts’ technique seems to be a matter of remaining sensitive to the horses and people who surround us. It is a matter of trying to see their situation from their own point of view. It is by doing so that we make a real connection.
Let’s hear now from Monty Roberts himself, about his approach to reaching both horses and people, in his efforts to make his community and the world a better place.
[Conversation with Monty Roberts]
You know that very special feeling you get when someone has truly listened to you?
The feeling you get when another person takes the time, but just not the time, [pause] the interest, the energy, the work, to actually listen to all that you have to say, to truly understand you?
It’s the kind of experience that stays with a person. We remember those moments because of how they make us feel. We feel understood, even if the person doesn’t agree. We feel valued, that what we had to say mattered to this person, that we mattered to this person. When we are truly listened to, it even seems easier for our ideas to get sorted out within our own head.
Too often, I believe, in this world that is intoxicated with speed, where just a few words are used to represent proper answers, where glimpses of ideas are presented as representative of an entire conversation, we don’t take the time we need to truly listen to one another.
Maybe it is easier to listen under an immense sky in the countryside, because there, there is no other voice, no other distraction to steal our attention away. The immensity of the sky and the magnificence of an empty landscape serve to remind us of just how truly valuable are the mutterings of the individual human soul. They remind us of just how valuable are the people and animals that we know and love, of how empty our world would be without them.
We appreciate greatly the work of Monty Roberts to show a path forward, that is founded on listening and respect, for both horses and people. They are two crucial tools we need to build relationships and find peace.
In the end, our search for the magnificence of a Montana view is more about, I would say, finding a place of peace within, rather than finding a distant landscape.
We can listen, if we try, just as carefully on a busy city street, as we can anywhere else.
It is ultimately a matter of doing what it takes to listen to others and find peace within.
As a rider at 60 years old, I believe that all can benefit from the secret of riding. I myself, raised with a British background, take inspiration from the Queen who continues to ride at 94 years old. I believe that the same can be true for today’s youth. Riding can give them hope that they can overcome the challenges that they face and give them the confidence to become all that they can.
I was moved by the calls I received after my interview with Libby Znaimer from women and men who told me their stories of their love of horses and riding. They told me how riding set them up to overcome their circumstances. Some came out of the Depression, some out of World War II... these riders did not let these experiences dampen their efforts to achieve a full and happy life and make a contribution to their respective communities. All mentioned that riding helped immeasurably in this. They believe that riding gave them the confidence in themselves and in their ability to do something ... to go after what they wanted their lives to be.
If you are interested in sharing your experiences of horses, whether of riding or not, in the past, or more recently, on my show on Zoomer Radio, please contact me at ByTheLoveOfHorses@redscarfequestrian.ca Susan Jamieson
By The Love Of Horses is written by Doug Allen, a student of history at the University of Toronto, who believes in the need to be versed in country things. Doug’s father travelled extensively by horse on the Canadian prairies and his uncle as a small boy wept at the passing of a family horse. He is writing a novel set in Winnipeg, Canada exploring the nature of indigenous and non-indigenous relations and what it means to come home.
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Listen to the Podcasts of previous shows: https://www.zoomerradio.ca/podcasts/by-the-love-of-horses/