Monty Roberts, famous horse whisperer and author of Horse Sense for People, believes that "No-one has the right to say 'You must or I will hurt you' to any other creature, animal or human". He has long practised his creed of "non-violence, respect and choice" in his work with horses using a method he calls "Join-Up" described in his earlier book The Man who Listens to Horses. In Horse Sense for People he explains, through a series of carefully drawn parallels, how Join-Up applies to human beings. It is a system of behaviour management based on two-way communication, mutual respect and positive reinforcement of good behaviour. He rejects spurs, whips and other forms of compulsion for horses and their equivalent for human beings. Roberts and his wife Pat have helped to bring up 47 foster children--as well as three of their Own--on their thoroughbred horse farm in California.
Under chapter headings such as "Trust", "Against Violence" and "The Good Parent" he tells stories and details case studies based on the remedial work he does with--often deeply troubled--human beings. Take the mother who had been home-educating her five daughters and beating them almost daily. She suddenly realised that something was very wrong in her life and approached Roberts for help. Or Peter--"damaged goods" and "with enough baggage for a 40 year old, let alone a boy of fourteen"--the delinquent son of criminal parents who came to Roberts for jockey training.
Roberts is a wise man. And he writes beautifully with a knack of expressing profound truths in language so spare that you don't quite absorb the enormity of what he has said unless you stop and ponder. "Genius lies in the simplest things in life", he says and "Fear is the antecedent of violence; ignorance is the antecedent of fear". His inspiring but practical book should be compulsory reading for any human being who has responsibility for, and power over, others. --Susan Elkin