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
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.