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The Lewis Legacy-Issue 81, Summer 1999

In the Footsteps of Monty Original Article

A horse-training memoir that is mostly horsefeathers?
The Horse Whisperer (Dell, 1995), an enormously popular novel by British
author Nicholas Evans, hit number one on the New York Times bestseller
list. In 1996 Robert Redford made the movie.

American horse trainer Monty Roberts’ The Man Who Listens to Horses
(Random House, 1996) presented him as “a real life horse whisperer.” He
claimed in interviews that the Evans novel and film were based on him.
Dateline made him a national celebrity, and by the end of 1998 he had sold
800,000 hardcovers.

In 1997 Evans protested in the London Daily Telegraph. “Monty, no doubt to
promote his own book (whose cover bears an uncanny similarity to my own),
has been claiming that I talked to him through the night, came to see his
demonstrations, modeled my main character on him, even ‘paraphrased his
life.’ None of these things is true. Monty’s claim to have turned down
Robert Redford’s offer to be the horse consultant on the film is untrue. He
pestered Redford’s office with calls and they didn’t want him.” Evans based
his novel on three horsetrainers whom he names.

Among other exploits, Roberts tells of enduring brutality from a savagely
violent father, taming wild horses in Nevada, becoming a close friend of
James Dean, riding in 100 Hollywood films, doubling for Elizabeth Taylor in
National Velvet, and fathering 47 foster children. Research shows these
claims and others to be totally false, and his relatives and past
associates in the horse world are outraged. In terms of horsey satire by
Jonathan Swift, it seems that Roberts is a Yahoo in a Rolex.

Nancy-Lou Patterson, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of
Waterloo, is Reviews Editor of Mythlore.
An internationally recognized scholar, author and liturgical artist, she
publishes frequently on C. S. Lewis.