As an avid reader of the Pacific Coast Business Times, I enjoyed your second round of 50 Most Influential People (special section published Feb. 12).
I would like to recommend another candidate for your consideration: Monty Roberts. I know Monty, his family, and his unique background through his generosity in allowing me the use of his horse ranch, Flag Is Up Farms, as the venue for the annual SLOPOKE Art of the West Exhibition and Sale.
A 1959 graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Monty established his successful horse training ranch in Solvang in 1966. In a global equine training environment where the norm is to “hurt the horse before the horse hurts you,” he developed an effective technique called “Join Up” which inflicts no pain to persuade the animal to cooperate with humans.
After Robert Redford’s 1998 movie “The Horse Whisperer,” the moniker was applied to Monty Roberts, who dislikes the nickname because he says “he listens to the horse; he doesn’t whisper to the horse.”
Originally censured for his successful techniques because it made traditional trainers look bad, a lifetime of demonstrating his approach has garnered him two honorary Ph.D.’s and the patronage of Queen Elizabeth II. Even in his mid-80’s, prior to the COVID pandemic, he trained the Queen’s horses annually and traveled the world extensively to promote the Join-Up technique.
He has authored several books and documentaries on the subject. Recently, with the assistance of his family and friends, he demonstrates how this philosophy can enhance human relationships through an annual seminar called the “The Movement,” which includes guest experts from around the world. I have attended “The Movement” and witnessed multiple times the effectiveness of his Join-Up technique even with wild or feral horses. He also uses his knowledge and horses to help those with post-traumatic stress injuries.
Monty is reserved, soft-spoken, but persuasive. Among the influential notables nominated this year and last, Monty stands out as a very influential and interesting person of the region deserving recognition.