Michael Wood, founder and managing director of The Economy Radiator Company based in Dalton, near Thirsk, on his passion for horses.
People have often been known to write letters to authors telling them that reading one of their books changed their lives. But how many of them really mean it?
I can say, with hand on heart, that The Man Who Listens to Horses by Monty Roberts has had a profound effect on the way I look at the world and live my life today. So profound, indeed, that it inspired me to pack up a highly successful but unsatisfying career, rent out my house, buy some horses and move into a garage that I was later to convert into a bungalow on the land I’d bought for the horses to live on.
Quite simply, Monty Roberts’s writing made me fall in love with horses. The depth of his narrative was incredible and in his own life – in which he’d have to overcome enormous obstacles – was so fascinating. Added to that, his kinship with and passion for horses shone through, and his detailed methodology for training them was laid out in so straightforward a manner that it appeared easy to replicate.
Be in no doubt that horse psychology – or ‘horse whispering’, as some people like to call it – actually works.
My first Clydesdale was an incredibly troubled horse that wouldn’t accept the bit and played merry hell when you tried mounting her. We applied Monty Roberts’s ‘Join-Up’ method – the non-violent technique that he uses to train raw horses that is completely at odds with traditional horse-breaking – and witnessed an incredible transformation in her behaviour as we moved through and finally successfully completed the process. It’s no quick fix, either: years later, the same horse will still seek me out in a field and follow me around in the way that a dog would. We have used Monty Roberts’s technique since, with similar results.
Putting Monty Roberts to one side, it is horses themselves for which I ultimately have a passion.
I love their company and, if I had to, would sacrifice everything else just to live with and spend more time with them; just as I did over a decade ago. It’s only a few weeks since I ended up in Northallerton A&E when I was thrown from a horse that I would describe as ‘a Ferrari on deer legs’ when it was spooked by something in the woods and yet I still think the same.
Clydesdales, in particular, have a wonderfully reassuring presence – such generous, sturdy, sure-footed gentle giants.
The irony of Monty Roberts’s book having inspired me to take such a drastic change of direction in life is that it was while trying to work out how best to heat the bungalow I was building that – having been quoted a whopping sum to install a gas-fired system – I hit upon the idea for The Economy Radiator Company.
You could, therefore, say that I owe everything I have today to Monty Roberts’s book and, above all, to horses themselves.