The Man Who Listens to Horses Review
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Essentially, this is an autobiography with an ulterior motive. Mr. Roberts, a horse trainer, wants to change the way horses are broken in and trained. So in this autobiography, he describes how he first discovered and then shaped his ideas about “starting” horses. He wants to convert horse experts to respect and follow his technique. He uses the term “starting,” as opposed to the traditional phrase, “breaking” horses in, as a means of differentiating his approach from what he feels, and demonstrates, is the more cruel approach.

How did he first decode the horse’s body language? What events in his life enabled him to figure out what no one else had noticed? These are the questions the book explains.

You don't have to own a horse to enjoy this book, but it would probably help. A BBC documentary special aired on PBS stations about the time of the book's initial release, so Roberts' story should be fairly well known to anyone already interested in horses.

The only weakness here was Mr. Roberts's tendency to make personal proclamations. He is forever pointing out the greatest, worst, most painful or most happy moments of his life. Imagine, for example, this country cowboy, gee whiz, sitting down to tea with the Queen of England. These are the moments when you wish his editor had shown some backbone.

Roberts applied the same lessons he learned in rearing horses to teaching children. Just as starting horses requires a trainer able to listen to and encourage the horse, so teaching children requires a teacher willing to listen to and encourage the child. He quotes his favorite teacher who told him, “There is no teaching, only learning.” Unless a teacher can encourage a student to learn, it doesn’t matter what the lesson plans look like or how many computers the school has up and running. Without motivation, there is no learning.

His discoveries make for absorbing reading. This is a singular story, and I enjoyed reading it.

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