Sunday, September 10, 2006

Monty Roberts: Saviour Of Palm Island

Monty Roberts doesn't just sell horse-stuff to the credulous equestrian set. He's also happy to sell his secrets of Equus to the business community. And his Join-Up® works for troubled indigenous populations as well.

Monty Roberts has been visiting Australia doing his Join-Up® demonstrations for the past 5 years, and it was on a visit in 2003 that the RSPCA Queensland asked Monty if he would help them with some cruelty problems they were trying to combat on Palm Island with the islands horses. Palm Island lays 70 kms off the North Queensland coast. On appearances Palm Island is the epitome of a Tropical paradise, in fact it could rival some of the great holiday destinations in the Pacific, with its natural beauty and tranquil coast line. It is the traditional home of the Man Bara people and there is as many as 43 different tribal groups making up the current community. Unfortunately for the island’s 3000 or so residents this natural beauty of their home can often be a huge contrast to the reality of their lives. In 1999 the Guinness book of world records listed Palm Island as the most violent place on earth outside a war zone. This violence has also made its way to the wild horses on the island. The RSPCA stated that this was the worst case of mass scale cruelty and neglect that they have ever seen in Queensland. The RSPCA and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) had tried to rescue the horses from the Island before but they had no support from the local community, and their attempts became ineffective. Monty Roberts knew that to be successful in saving the horses from Palm Island that the RSPCA and the DPI needed the support of the community. He wanted to bring together two Palm Islanders who would have influence on the island, and an RSPCA inspector to become their partner. Two local Palm Island horse lovers Jason Thimble, and Noel Cannon were chosen to work in conjunction with Shayne Towers Hammond the RSPCA inspector from Rockhampton. The three were flown to Millamolong Station in the NSW Central West to attend a 2 day Join-Up® Camp Monty was conducting with some youth from the Charity group - The Exodus Foundation. The idea was to teach them Monty’s training methods and to devise a plan to rescue the horses. He also wanted to show Jason and Noel how powerful Join-Up® was with breaking through to youth at risk. Something they would be dealing with when they got back to the Island. During the course of Youth Camp, Jason, Noel and Shayne made a pact to work together to rescue the horses on Palm Island, and in conjunction with the Department Of Primary Industries several horses were saved, and have now been re-homed.

While EoR doesn't dispute the facts of this story, there's definitely a certain spin applied to the tale to show Monty as the Saviour whose miraculous methods succeeded where others have failed (and engendering a sense of failure is vital to "natural" horsemanship purveyors - they first have to convince you, like all advertisers, that you are lacking in something or incompetent in something so that they can push their particular brand).

Monty downplays (or ignores totally) the efforts put in by others to resolve the welfare issue of horses on Palm Island, such as education efforts by the local pony club, and ongoing efforts by the Department of Primary Industries, as well as a Shared Responsibility Agreement between the Australian Government and the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council. The ABC also provide a Monty-less report on this issue.

Monty's bravery in dealing with the "most violent place on earth outside a war zone" (even if he did most of his work well away from the danger area back on the mainland) is also highly contentious.

The Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy, Judy Spence, said on this day the facts about Palm Island highlighted the outlandish nature of the Guinness Book of Records' claim it was the most violent place on earth outside a combat zone. The 'record' was apparently based on an article published in the Sunday Times magazine in the UK earlier this year, but that article was discredited because it was founded on fictitious data, Ms Spence said.

That's a quote from 1998, but Monty is still promulgating that particular myth on his website and in his propaganda. The Guinness World Records 2000 Millenium Edition does not include the category of "most violent place on earth outside a war zone" so it seems at least the publisher was quick to distance themselves from the claim.

But Monty continues to push his own agenda forward.

Funnily enough, every time EoR types Monty, his fingers revert to automatic typing, and he wants to spell it "Money".

1 comment:

  1. I recommend 'Horse Whispers & Lies' found online at ; the Feb. 1999 issue of Horse & Rider magazine's article, 'Horse Whispers or Horse Feathers?'; San Francisco Examiner Article: 'BIOGRAPHY CALLED UNBRIDLED FICTION' January 11, 1997; "Horse of a Different Color" by John Skow & James Willwerth, Time Magazine Dec. 14, 1998; "Now! Read the True (More or Less) Story!" Tuesday, February 24, 1998 The New York Times; and "A Peddler of Court Gossip May Pay the Piper" by Jonathon Turley.

    On Nicholas Evans' website FAQ (, he has posted,
    "Some of you may have read that someone called Monty Roberts was the model for Tom Booker, The Horse Whisperer in the book, and that he helped me with my research. It's not true. met Mr Roberts once, briefly, in England but have never seen him with a horse or seen him since. He had no involvement whatsoever."

    This article is interesting also:


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.