Monty Roberts Liar Liar

When it Comes to Monty Roberts, This is the One Book That Really Matters
“Horse Whispers & Lies”


“Horse Whispers & Lies” answers the question it has emblazoned across its cover – Did Monty Roberts Trade Truth for Glory? – with a resounding ‘Yes’!

I previously read “The Man Who Listens To Horses” and found it an interesting, even, exciting at times treatise but it is clearly a fiction as is the man himself. So, for all those people who read and loved “The Man Who Listens To Horses”, I urge them to read “Horse Whispers and Lies”. Because, as Ristau and Renebome so eloquently put it, ‘truth matters’.” – Los Angeles writer Susan Harris

“Horse Whispers & Lies” is also a marvelous history of the area in and around Salinas, California from the early 1900’s to the present. This is a book for horse lovers, horse trainers and anyone who cares about the eternal spirit of a loved one. It is dedicated to the memories of Marvin and Marguerite Roberts, Monty Roberts parents. Below are just some of the more pertinent excerpts pertaining to Monty Roberts’ outrageous tales and lies in his own book.

The Abuse-Brutality Controversy

From “The Man Who Listens to Horses”:
My father’s methods of dealing with horses were what I would describe as conventional-but that is to say, cruel. . . . The horses were . . . terrified. . . . They rolled their eyes and kicked, reared . . . . (p.39) Fear is in the horse’s nature, and they were driven wild with it. (p.40) Early in 1942 . . . . (p.46) I took the horses to a distant round pen . . . . [My father] took up position on the viewing stand . . . . (p.47) [After watching me, my father] raised the stall chain and brought it down hard, again and again . . . . I writhed in his grasp . . . . He whipped horses into submission and now he was giving me the same treatment . . . . I was put in the hospital . . . . The beatings continued weekly for three more years . . . . Only when I was fifteen did they cease . . . . (pp.48,49) (p.53-HWL)

“Monty was never an abused child. He and I shared a bedroom. Never once was there ever a hint of reason for me to think that he was being beaten by our father or by anyone else.

“Monty was very vocal about every little incident that he might consider an injustice against him. He would have screamed like a banshee if he were being beat. I know him. He can say whatever he wants to the rest of the world. But I know the truth.

“We used to take baths together. I never once saw a bruise that I didn’t know exactly how Monty got it. As for my mother, if there were a definition in the dictionary for strong woman it would be Marguerite Roberts. “I think our parents did more for the two of us then any parents that ever graced this earth. My dad was as thrilled as any father could be when Monty or I won or even placed in an event. For Monty to do what he has done to our deceased parents is darn near unbearable for me.” (p.55 HWL)

“I watched Monty on the television show Dateline. It was difficult to sit there and hear the lies he told. I was in and out of the Roberts home on a regular basis from nineteen forty-four to nineteen fifty-seven. From the number of hours I spent in that household, I would have been blind not to know if Marvin was beating one of his boys.” (p.58 HWL)

“Marvin was the ultimate role model. In all those years that I knew him, I never heard him raise his voice or saw him raise a hand in anger to his wife, children, or horses. We heard stories of women and children who were battered and abused. We knew of horse trainers who used cruel methods and thought they could force an animal to work or perform. People like that were definitely around in those days, but Marvin was not one of them. “Marvin was gentle, kind, caring, and probably most of all he was compassionate. He had a way of always making a person feel special. He did the same with horses.” (p.61 HWL)

“I was at Marvin’s place every Friday for pretty near forty years. I watched his boys grow up and all those kids that used to ride there. Marvin was a special man. He had a way about him that was gentle and kind. I would call him a gentle man.

“Two incidents, in particular, come to mind when I think of Marvin Roberts. They both represent a bit of the measure of the man. The first was at the rodeo grounds.

“I was putting shoes on a horse that just would not stand still. I suppose I was getting more and more frustrated, because about the time the horse jumped away for the umpteenth time, I hit him in the belly with the rasp and called him a knothead or some such name and told the blamed horse to stand still. “Marvin almost fired me that day. He told me that I was never, under any circumstances, to hit any horse [again] at the rodeo grounds or that day would be my last.

“The second memory that comes to mind after all these years is a fishing trip he and I took up to the mountains. We were way back in the hills and it started to rain. Marvin got so concerned about some horses that were in a corral without a cover that he made me drive him some thirty miles or more to a pay phone, so he could call and check on the horses. He was reassured that everything was fine, but he never relaxed and had a good time. He just kept going on and on about those poor horses and how he should have had shelter for them.” (p.113) HWL)

The Murder Controversy

From The Man Who Listens to Horses:
[It was] in 1943 [that] I saw my father [disarm a] black man in army fatigues . . . . [my father] caused the man to fall back, and his head cracked on the edge of the bar. . . . He lay motionless . . . . [my father] put the cuffs on . . . . [Then he] dropped, driving his knee into the chest of the unconscious black man. . . . [Next, my father] slammed the heel of his cowboy boot into the mouth of the fallen man. . . . he grabbed the chain connecting the handcuffs . . . dragging the black man . . . . my father [was] surrounded by onlookers . . . . He gave the torso an extra lift and then released the chain, dropping the back of the man’s head onto the sidewalk. (pp.54-58) I could only see bubbles of blood around [the black man’s] mouth. . . . At the station . . . . Other officers . . . laughed and hooted . . . . I saw my father kick him repeatedly in the ribs . . . . Years later, I was told that the black man had lain for two days with his ribs broken, his lungs pierced and his skull cracked. He died without ever seeing a doctor. (pp.59,60) (p.65 HWL)

“My brother claims that when our father was a member of the Salinas Police Department, he used his authority and power to cause the death of a black man during an arrest. In his book, Monty vividly describes the incident and says that he remembers the situation. [Monty also says that Larry was not there.] “I’m familiar with the scene. I was there too. It happened at the Golden Dragon Saloon on Soledad Street.

“Regardless of what Monty says-we were both in the car with Daddy when he stopped [there] because of a disturbance.

“When we arrived, the crowd was holding a man that had beaten up another man, who was lying on the sidewalk. I remember seeing my dad put a jacket or a blanket underneath the head of the downed man and handcuffs on the man the crowd was holding. The police came and took them both away; they had already been called before we got there and arrived minutes after we did.” (p.66 HWL)

The Sprint Race Controversy

From The Man Who Listens to Horses:
“From The Man Who Listens to Horses: When I was eight, I started riding quarter horses in sprint races . . . . I had no serious accidents, despite riding in some 200 races . . . I did fall off a time or two, and I often rode without a protective helmet. (pp.62,63) (p.77 HWL)

“Monty never rode in two hundred sprint races! He might have raced a time or two, but he just wasn’t into that. I raced a lot, but Monty never did. If Monty raced like he says, where are the pictures [of young Monty on a racehorse]? We have pictures of everything.”

“I don’t remember Monty riding in any sprint races when he and Larry went to the shows, but I do remember that Larry raced quite a bit.” (p.78 HWL)

The Mustang Controversy
Pages 114 – 118

From The Man Who Listens to Horses:
“What if,” I proposed [in 1948] to Doc Leach [president of the California Rodeo Association], “I go to Nevada and get the mustangs [for the wild horse races held at the rodeo]?” (p.5) [I told Doc that] “I know I can ask for help from the Campbell Ranch.” Bill Dorrance, a remarkable horseman in his mid-fifties who would become my mentor, had contacts at the ranch and would make the arrangements. . . . [I suggested] that after the rodeo Larry and I could break in the mustangs . . . . (p.5) Doc Leach shifted his pipe from one corner of his mouth to the other . . . . Finally, we agreed that the net proceeds of any sales [from the wild horses] were to be divided equally between the rodeo association and the Roberts brothers. (pp.5,6)

“Why it’s just plain nonsense to think Doc Leach agreed to let my brother be responsible for getting those horses when [Monty] was only thirteen years old, or that Doc had Monty and me break them later and sell them at an auction.”

When asked about the matter, a current member of the California Rodeo Association, Pete Silacci, said that Doc Leach didn’t have anything to do with the wild horses at that time.

Doc Leach was not president of the association until 1953 and though it’s an insignificant matter, Doc’s son, retired judge Jim Leach, told a reporter that his father never smoked a pipe.

From The Man Who Listens to Horses:
In June 1948, Ralph and Vivian Carter and I put our horses and our equipment in the van and headed off [to gather the mustangs]. . . . (p.6)

(Published earlier in the United Kingdom – U.K. printing, 1996, Monty wrote): So come June 1948, Dick Gillott, Tony Vargas, my brother and I put our horses and our equipment in the . . . .(p.68)

Later, in the paperback edition released by First Ballantine Books Edition, January 1999, the sentence became:

In the summer of 1948, the Carters and I put our horses and our equipment in the . . . . (p.4)

“What? That’s impossible. How could he say that? I never went to Nevada to gather any wild horses with Monty. Neither did Tony or Larry. Monty didn’t go anywhere to gather or observe any mustangs during those years. I spent nearly my entire childhood around him. I would have known if he had done something like that.”

“I’m trying to figure out who was supposed to be driving. I’m the oldest, but still didn’t have a [driver’s] license in June of nineteen forty-eight. The whole thing is a joke. Dick, Larry, and I all know we never went to Nevada with Monty to gather any wild horses. So before they print the book here [in the United States], he changes [the characters] to Ralph and Vivian [Carter] who, like his own mother and father, are dead and can’t say they weren’t there either.”

“My brother never went to Nevada to gather any wild mustangs with me or the Carter’s or anyone else. The only place [that I know of] that Monty spent time watching wild horses [when we were young], was at the rodeo grounds when they were penned in the green corrals, right before Big Week.”

The Lying Controversy
Pages 123 – 125

“Our pride of Monty’s accomplishments ended when we read his book. “My nephew wrote that I was raised by the Cherokee Indians and passed on what I learned about their ways to him. As I said, this is malarkey. Anything Monty learned about horses he learned from his father or on his own. “As far as I know, he never went on any expedition to Nevada to gather wild horses, and he never spent summers there observing them.”

“I just can’t figure out how Monty can say the things that he says in that book of his and get away with it. It simply is not the truth. Not the way I remember it. It’s not even close to the truth.

“The way I understand it, Monty claims he wanted to find a way to start young horses that wasn’t cruel [to them]. He claims his father’s methods of breaking a horse were cruel.

“First of all, I don’t ever remember Marvin beating or being cruel to a horse. In my opinion, his training methods were never cruel. He did tie a leg up and he did sack them out, but the leg was tied to keep the horse from hurting himself; it was held just a few inches off the ground, and the sacking out was about the same as having a light sheet tossed at you. It was done to teach the horse that the human was not going to hurt him.

“I was around Marvin and Monty all the time when I was a kid. I never saw or suspected Marvin of being cruel to any horse or to Monty. “As for Monty’s supposed travels in a boxcar to the show horses, I have no explanation. He claims that my brother, Wendell, went with him as a [horse] groom, and I just know that isn’t true. Does [Monty] think we are all senile or something?”

The Bill Dorrance Controversy

“After hearing about Monty’s book from others, I expected a signed copy for my dad [Bill Dorrance]. After all, he was mentioned as being one of Monty’s teachers. Not receiving one, I purchased the book for Dad to read. “After reading the first sixty pages, he told me there was not enough truth in the book to continue. There did not seem to be any point to him to read further. “It’s not a big deal, but he’s got my dad’s age wrong too. If Dad were in his mid-fifties in nineteen forty-eight, then he would be well over one hundred now. My dad is in his nineties, and he just finished writing his own book about horses.”

“After [my dad said that he wouldn’t read past the first sixty pages of Monty’s book], I decided to have a look at it myself. My perspective may be different, but from what I saw, his book is all about marketing.

“I’ve noted that Monty covers most of the current hot topics and finds ways to make them work to his advantage. For instance, he is big on nutrients and health, letting us know that he believes in food supplements and good nutrition. He has mentors. He learned at an early age to set goals and work diligently toward them. He claims to have been physically abused. He claims his father directly caused the death of a Black man and was a racist. I’m sure that if I continue to read, I’ll come upon some form of psychotherapy he needed to recover from the abuse inflicted by his father.

“In my opinion only, Monty Roberts is one of the most reprehensible people anyone would want to be around. Neither my dad, nor my uncle [Tom Dorrance] ever recall working with Monty or talking to him about his training methods or theirs. Though my dad is in his nineties, he is still very sharp and his memory and faculties are clear.

“A while back, Monty called and requested a photograph of my dad, which was sent, but we wondered why Monty wanted it. “Monty called about a year after The Man Who Listens to Horses, was published. He invited both Dad and Uncle Tom to a party at his ranch. Neither of them went.

“My dad thought it was a strange invitation because he hardly knew Monty.”

The James Dean Controversy
Pages 172 – 173

“It’s interesting that Monty thinks James Dean lived with him for three months prior to the filming of East of Eden. Dean may well have been friendly toward Monty, but [James Dean] never lived with the Roberts at all.”

“I’m still wondering where I was supposed to be when James Dean was sleeping in my bed. It was only a twin!”