Open Letter to Monty Roberts Fans

Christina Swiggert

I read Monty Roberts book “The Man Who Listens to Horses” when it first came out and I have since read the many excerpts from “Horse Whispers & Lies”. I found the passages in “Horse Whispers..” to be very very convincing evidence that Monty Roberts both lied outright and embellished events in his life. I have also read numerous arguments both pro and con in various chatrooms on the web and listened to friends and colleagues discuss this man as well.

I know there are still people who support him despite the fact that ‘the truth is out there’ – amazing but true. The excuse these people give is that Monty Roberts has an admirable message and that is to be kind to horses. Well, I happen to think that that is a terrific message. But I cannot condone the end justifying the means.

Let’s face it. There are many people out there with the same message. What makes Monty Roberts so special and different? It’s not the message. It’s the manner in which he has delivered it… stories of abuse and hardship to get massive sympathy and to draw analogies to abused horses, stories of great heroism and feats, stories of horrendous injuries he suffered and horrors he’s seen. He says he even developed a special technique called Join-up, but in actuality it was someone else who developed the technique some forty years ago (his own father).

So by developing these extensive tales, he’s drawn a larger than life picture for himself to rise above all the others out there delivering the very same message. That larger than life picture is for one purpose only – financial profit. He knew others were delivering the same message and to be heard above the din he had to do something spectacular. He did that by writing his book, going on talk shows reiterating his tales of woe and also doing his live demonstrations using someone else’s technique. Bravo – good showmanship if nothing else.

What really irks me about the people who would defend him is that they say things like – ‘who cares if he lied’; ‘who cares if he embellished, doesn’t everyone in retelling a story?’

I must answer them with NO – not everyone lies and not everyone embellishes. There is no justification, no defense for this kind of behavior.

I am certain that these are the same people who would be outraged by reading false, misleading or embellished stories in their local newspapers. Well, it’s the same thing – Monty’s book is supposed to be nonfiction – why is it okay for him to lie and embellish but not the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times or the Washington Post? The answer very simply is that it’s not okay! It is never okay!

It is truly a sad commentary on the state of our country and the world for that matter, for so many people to ignore morals and ethics. In my early days as a teacher, I always wondered why the children were amoral and why none of them seemed to have any understanding of what ethics are. Then I realized that they were simply not being taught these concepts at home.

It dawned on me again after speaking with a few misguided souls who think it’s okay for Monty to lie, that they are part of the generation that stopped being taught such important basic concepts. I seem to also remember that they thought it was okay for Bill Clinton to lie through his entire presidency – presumably because they thought he was also delivering a great message.

If we believe that the end justifies the means (as obviously Monty Roberts does), then why not just teach our kids to steal what they want in life? After all, it will surely be justified because we will all have happy children who shall never want for possessions. Let’s teach all our children to lie because that too can be justified in some way – the child’s lie may save him from getting into trouble and won’t that make the parents happy when they don’t have to deal with the authorities?

People have a tendency to justify immoral behavior because people don’t want to be considered immoral. So they just sweep it under the rug. But the more and more that we sweep these things under the rug the further and further away from a moral upright, righteous society we become.

Delivering his message that people should be kind to horses did not give Monty Roberts the right to lie about and disgrace his father, lie about events and people, or embellish stories to the extent of turning his whole life into a fictional adventure.

You and I may respect the message, but I for one, do not respect the man who happens in this case to be delivering it.

Mrs. Swiggert is a retired teacher and horse trainer with 30 years experience.