Straight from the horse's a$$
People are free to spend their money on whatever they want--more power to 'em. But just as I don't personally care to "waste" my money on some gazillion-dollar sports car to park in my driveway, I also don't need a gazillion-dollar imported German Hanoverian warmblood in my stable to make my life complete. That's just me. If people really WANT it, okay, whatever makes ya happy. I just noticed, as a casual observer, that there's a whole lotta money being tossed about in [the horse lovers'] world, and if I were the cynical predatory type it would be a consideration to, uh, consider.
Another observation: I would guesstimate from my own experience... that probably 70-80% of the horsie world is FEMALE... So if I were looking for companionship and I were attracted to the female persuasion, it would be a good place to look. Or troll, as the case may be...
...The potential for lots of money and sex: it's a winning combination! Though I am CERTAIN all these people and services you mention [in the blog post] only have the animal's (and the consumer's) best interests at heart. I'm just sayin', that's some pretty green grass, there, is all....
~ My friend "Mojo" (being sarcastic) in a comment to an August 2008 Whirled Musings blog post
Note: This post is a bit off of the beaten path -- at least the path I've been riding for the past numerous posts. Enjoy the break; I'll be back to Kevin Trudeau court docs and so forth before long. Meanwhile if you want some good articles and links about the now-imprisoned Kevin and the lasting effects of his mega-scam GIN, visit Bernie's GINtruth blog.
I love horses, and have been fond of them since I was a kid. I've never really been into riding, though I have ridden a few times over the years (not very well, I might add, but at least I know how to get on a horse, and I've never fallen off, so that should count for something). I might actually take up riding for real at some point, but for now, I simply appreciate horses for who they are, or to be more accurate, who they seem to be, based upon my own observations and projections. I don't claim to have any special knowledge about horses but I admire them and find them endlessly fascinating. I love the way they look and feel and move and sound and smell. Having been fortunate enough to live in proximity to (other people's) horses for several years, I have come to appreciate them even more. I completely understand how people can fall so deeply and hopelessly in love with their horses.
I also understand how expensive and high-maintenance horses are, even in the best of circumstances. Overall it seems that many of them are less hardy than some of their less-romanticized but generally healthier and dare I say smarter cousins (e.g., the long-ears, particularly mules) -- and even though horses clearly have a strong survival instinct, as do pretty much all sentient beings, many of them also seem inordinately prone to sabotaging their survival chances in shocking and costly ways. (The Oatmeal has a humorously cynical outlook on horses; I have probably linked to it before, but here it is again. Of course I do not agree with the whole "I hate horses" sentiment, or with the notion that we should be eating equines, or with the author's general contempt for horses... but it's pretty funny anyway.)
Combine the normal expense factor with the profound love that people have for their horses and their desire to do the very best for their equine friends, and it is easy to see why catering to the horse lovers' market can be lucrative indeed. It's lucrative for legitimate business owners and practitioners, and I certainly do not begrudge any of these people their right to make an honest living. Unfortunately, judging by what I've seen and heard, the horsey market can be pretty profitable for scammers as well. I was reminded of that again recently by an alert reader who is a horse expert and is utterly appalled by the way certain scammers -- who, as it happens, have a connection to now-imprisoned serial mega-scammer Kevin Trudeau -- are taking advantage of people who have horses with health challenges. We'll get to that specific herd of horsey hucksters in a few moments. But first, some context and history.
Saddle up; you're about to be taken for a ride
In the years I've been blogging, I've managed to work in a few drive-by snarks about New-Wage horseplay. For instance, there's this August 2008 piece (scroll down to, "The horse is the new dolphin"). That's the post on which my pal Mojo, whose words you saw at the beginning of this post, commented; here's the link to the entire comment.
Nearly a year later, in July 2009, I used the topic of equine flatulence as a shaky framework for a post about the aforementioned Kevin Trudeau (aka KT, aka Katie) and another huckster Katie was courting at the time, Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale. At the time I wrote the horse-fart post, I had no idea that Katie was getting ready to launch his biggest boondoggle of all, the Global Information Network (GIN), which is currently having its big "Inspire France 2015" event in Paris. (It's free, but you couldn't have gotten in on it even if you'd learned of it on time, because it has been sold out for weeks, according to the web site.) The impending GIN launch was apparently why Katie was courting Joe back in 2009; no doubt he wanted to capitalize on Joe's fame as a star of the New-Wage moviemercial The Secret, as well as get his greedy hands on Joe's mailing list. For his part Joe was over the moon about being sucked up to by one of the most successful marketers of all time, though he has been strangely silent about Katie since the latter's trial, conviction and imprisonment. Anyway, I didn't learn about GIN till a few months after I wrote the-horse-fart post, and it (GIN, not horse flatulence) has been a frequent topic on Whirled Musings since then.
Although the equine-exploitation angle of Scamworld has never been a predominant theme on this blog, I've been aware of it. Apart from the posts cited above, I've mentioned, for instance, Gary Douglas, the founder of the cult-like sex-and-money org Access Consciousness (aka Scientology Lite). See this post, under "Warning: ACCESSories on the loose". Gary and his younger sidekick Dain Heer have a pretty good horse shtick going with their Conscious Horse Conscious Rider workshops.
Not content to bill himself as a mere horse whisperer, Gary claims that he is an "international horse medium." Back in 2012 my good friend Yakaru did his own drive-by snark about Gary's horse mediumship. Gary maintains a small herd of trained "facilitators" to present his workshop; Texan Suzy Godsey appears to be one of Gary's trail hands. She helps out with the Conscious Horse Conscious Rider workshop scheme and also has a "horse bodywork" shtick going, based largely on Access teachings.
Over the years Gary appears to have targeted rich older women for his various scams and schemes, including rich older women with horses. A few years ago he even told a story on a radio show about possibly missing out on an opportunity to inherit some $67 million because he wouldn't bang a wealthy "older woman" whom he was helping with her horses. But maybe that's fodder for another blog post. I do have a recording of the interview, though, and it kind of disgusted me.
And moving on to even lower forms of equine exploiters (if that is even possible), we have the vociferously self-promoting and profoundly daft Not-Doctor Leonard Coldwell, a former b.f.f. of Kevin Trudeau. Lenny was a highly paid GIN speaker until his firing in 2012, and even today his profile still appears on one of the Taste of GIN pages on the official GIN web site. But I probably don't need to tell you about his GIN background, which is actually what brought him to my attention in the first place. As it turns out, among his many other claimed accomplishments Lenny is a horse guy too, and according to him he knows all about horses and how to train them and work them.
I'm not insinuating that horses are Lenny's main shtick or even close to it; as far as I can tell, most of his time these days is still taken up with promoting his cancer quackery and other alt-health propaganda, as well as spreading idiotic conspiracy memes on Facebook. In the service of the latter he has made several hilarious attempts over the years to discredit the Internet's most famous conspiracy-meme debunkers, Snopes, as we just discussed here the other day.
Although Lenny doesn't currently seem to be actively exploiting his love and knowledge of horses, a horsey theme pops up every now and again in his public show-and-tell. There is, for instance, a picture of him sitting astride a saddle horse on a recently created page on one of his new-ish German web sites. The apparent purpose of that page is to show off what a successful, well-loved, and wealthy man he is, though frankly I think this picture is much more representative of Lenny than any of the others on the page. Not wanting his English-speaking audience to be deprived of yet another glimpse into his rich and successful life, Coldwell also provided a link to the German page on a thread on his main Facebook page. This shot is from August 13, 2015:
But I digress. Contrary to what a casual observer of the page on the German site might be inclined to conclude, that picture of Lenny on horseback is not a portrait of a wealthy gentleman horse owner on one of his noble steeds. Rather it is a pic of Lenny on a rent-a-horse, taken at a motivational/"spiritual" weekend retreat he hosted in late January 2013 on a dude ranch in Georgia, the Southern Cross Guest Ranch. In the promotions for that event he clearly attempted to capitalize on his immense horse knowledge, and I wrote about his promotional efforts on a February 2013 blog post (it's up towards the beginning, so you don't have to read the whole thing if you don't care to). The marketing copy I wrote about is pretty icky, and though it is long gone from Coldwell's own sites, this promo video is still on his main site. In the vid he mentions that "horses need leadership," the message being that if you learn, under his expert guidance, to show your horse who's boss, you can be a leader in life. And speaking of icky, there is this cheesy video, produced post-retreat.
A couple of years before the horse camp, while he was still in GIN, Coldwell apparently gave some horse-loving GIN members the impression that he was a breeder and owner of top German show jumpers and that he had sold many horses in the $100,000 to million-dollar range. That nugget was shared with me by an ex-GIN member who is a seasoned horse lover and owner. This person acknowledged that top show jumpers do indeed command that kind of money, and added that many of the top horses come from a handful of bigwig breeders in Germany and the Netherlands. The ex-GIN member claimed to actually know quite a few of these people but added, "I somehow never heard Coldwell's name come up in those circles. Gee, no surprise there...I don't think he ever trained any horse; he doesn't ride well enough... [but] he's aware of his limited riding skills...If he ever was involved I'm curious who rode for him. It's a pretty small world amongst riders; we compete against each other all our lives. I never got around to asking him [about] that, though. I was already aware of his exaggerations."
And then there are those backyard horses that may or may not exist. In the fall of 2013, Coldwell boasted on Facebook that he was moving into a 17,000 square foot mansion. He posted several shots of the alleged residence, which actually looks pretty generic on the outside and doesn't appear to be even close to 17,000 square feet. Included in one of his boasts was a picture of what he said was his back yard, which looked like a huge open pasture, and he added that "the horses" would be delivered there soon. But he never did share any shots of the horses in his backyard after they were delivered, at least not that I've seen. Maybe they are actually unicorns and don't show up in photographs.
More recently (June 2015), Coldwell was apparently on a throwback kick on Facebook, and he boasted about having had a horse ranch in Virginia a mere two years after moving to the United States from Germany. He claimed it as one of his great "successes." Here are the screen shots:
Suspecting he was fibbing or at least stretching the truth, I reached out to someone who knew him very well when he still lived in Virginia.
Did he actually own a horse ranch in Virginia in the early years after he moved to the U.S.? I read something in the  police report about him having some kind of horse training venture with somebody, but that's not the same as actually owning his own horse ranch. Anyway, he's been boasting about his past on Facebook lately, and yesterday he posted a boast about the success he had at his horse ranch...The person answered back:
NO he never owned anything in Va - not horses, a house or anything. I don't know where those photos came from but I have never seen them before. I recognize the shirt though. That's actually funny since anybody can find out that he is lying. And as a side bar there are no ranches in VA; they are called horse farms no matter how big they are. LOL.Virginia apparently does have a few dude or guest ranches, but the type of property Coldwell was talking about does indeed seem to be what they would call a "farm" in that neck of the woods. But beyond the semantics... I know, I'm as shocked as you are that Leonard Coldwell apparently lied yet again. No worries for him, though. His fans did not even seem to question his claims. They simply nuzzled up to him as per usual, whinnying their approval.
Also as per usual, I am willing to seriously entertain notions contrary to what I think I pretty much know to be true. I'm always willing to admit I am wrong if I am. Accordingly if Lenny -- or someone else who knew him back in Virginia when he supposedly had that "horse ranch" -- would like to present me with some concrete evidence that he was telling the truth about being a successful horse breeder who owned a horse operation in The Commonwealth in the 1990s, I am all ears. Or eyes. Drop me a line at one of the email addresses displayed on this page, or via a comment through Blogger.
I would especially love to hear from someone who was in the horse world in Virginia in the mid to late 1990s to early 2000s. Lenny resided in Fauquier County, Virginia back in the day (Remington and Warrenton, I'm told). Do any of you horse people who were living in the area, or anywhere in Virginia back then, recall a short, volatile little German guy with unnaturally black hair, a perma-tan and a porn mustache, who was a highly successful horse trainer/breeder and/or horse farm owner? He most likely went by the name Leonard Coldwell, but could have still been using Bernd Klein or maybe even Bernd Witchner. (He didn't actually get his name legally changed to Leonard Coldwell till June 1998, but clearly he was using that name for years in Germany and the U.S.)
So let me know. And if I hear anything contrary to what I've written, I will be glad to retract, correct, or amend the above as appropriate, and to restore Leonard Coldwell to his rightful place in the horse world. Otherwise I'll assume that he is just shoveling sh-t as usual and is about as prominent and accomplished in the equine world as he claims to have been in the martial arts world.*
Trick and Morter
Now -- finally -- let's get to those other flim-flammers, the ones to whom I was alerted recently by my correspondent, who is not only a lifelong horse lover but also a professional horsewoman with what appear to be very impressive creds. This concerns a scampire run by some long-time buddies and business partners of the aforementioned Kevin Trudeau, the Morters. I've known about them for years and have mentioned them in passing, but have simply never given them the attention on this Whirled that they so richly deserve.
Next to Fred van Liew, another nearly-lifelong Katie pal to whom I have paid tribute here several times, the Morters are arguably some of the most nefarious in the foul stable of Katie enablers. Unlike Freddy, they weren't mentioned in Aaron Gell's excellent piece for Business Insider, which was published earlier this year (here is my blog post about it). I don't know if Aaron reached out to them and they refused an interview, or if it was just an oversight, but in my book, the Morters deserve their own stars on the Scamworld Walk of Infamy.
The Morter scampire was founded by the late Dr. Milton Theodore (Ted) Morter, Jr., who was apparently good buddies with Katie for many years before his death in May 2013. If you were simply to visit the link above on the Morters' main web site you might think he is still alive, but here is his obit.
Back in the 1970s, Ted the Elder (one of his sons, Ted III, carries on his name as well as his schemes) invented a health and healing gimmick called Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique, or B.E.S.T., described thusly on the Morter site:
B.E.S.T. is a non-forceful, energy balancing hands on procedure used to help reestablish the full healing potential of the body. Understanding the body makes no mistakes regarding health and longevity, B.E.S.T. principles acknowledge the concept of Interference we create with our conscious mind. This Interference caused imbalance in the autonomic nervous system leading to exhaustion of our organ systems over time. Researched at major universities, taught in several Chiropractic Colleges and in professional continuing education seminars, B.E.S.T. is recognized as an effective healing science. The principles and concepts of Morter HealthSystem and B.E.S.T. technique are available to families, therapists and health care practitioners.
If think you've heard that kind of stuff before, you almost certainly have, if you've been following some of the snarks on this blog over the years, or if you've been following or observing the New-Wage/New-Age/selfish-help/McSpirituality/alt-health subcultures and industries at all. Most of these "healing modalities" offer pretty much the same line of horse crap, and I mean no offense to either horses or their crap. The schemes just have different names and various other branding details. But if you've seen one you've pretty much seen them all, or, as we like to say on this Whirled, it's deja screw all over again.
The B.E.S.T. main page goes on to elaborate on various offshoots of B.E.S.T., including something called Morter March ("a technique designed to use contralateral movement and stretching to neurologically update and re-time your body"). Then there's "Physical B.E.S.T" (hands-on stuff "taught to practitioners only" -- you can probably understand why). By "practitioner," the Morters are probably referring to chiropractic -- they are chiros, as was their daddy -- and select other alternative or "holistic" fields.
If you're not a practitioner, no worries, you still have a chance to be taken in by "Emotional B.E.S.T.," which "utilizes advanced technology developed to update higher brain interference from the physical body." Described as the core of B.E.S.T technology, Emotional B.E.S.T. is also, according to the site, "the pattern for health and wellness" which "unlocks the power." Patients as well as practitioners can do Emotional B.E.S.T.
Not surprisingly, B.E.S.T. isn't just about techniques of hands-on and hands-off woo. There are boatloads of supplements, kits, and other frauducts and info-frauducts to help relieve you of that burdensome money.
So there you have the foundation of the Morter brand of New-Wage crapitalism -- at least the part devoted to human animals. There's a whole other related realm in the scampire, devoted to non-human animals, and we'll have much more on that in a moment. It's not so much that I'm taking time getting to the point, but rather that there are so many points to make.
Background is important because, I believe, the role that the Morters have played in Scamworld cannot be overstated. They have their own shtick, certainly, but for years they have also been bloated planets orbiting around the bright and toxic sun that is Kevin Trudeau. Though marginally dimmer, Katie's light continues to burn even from within the walls of the federal prison camp where he now resides. Back in 2009 The Morters -- not only the late elder but also his two overfed, smirking sons, Ted III and Tom (horse people might call them "easy keepers") -- were apparently only too happy to jump aboard Kevin Trudeau's GIN gravy train. (Their sister, "Dr. Sue," doesn't seem to have been involved so much with Katie and GIN, but she is doing her own motivational/pseudoscientific dog-and-pony show and is, among other things, a member of that Scamworld cartel that calls itself the Transformational Leadership Council.)
Even though the GIN assets were sold to a group of Katie buddies in 2014, the Morter boys are still part of the GIN "faculty," or at least they were last time the GIN site actually listed its "faculty" members. They were also part of a group of investors recommended by the court appointed receiver, Robb Evans, to purchase what was left of Katie's Natural Cures scampire; see page 5 of this document. The group called itself the Business Education Support Team LLC... B.E.S.T. ... get it? And Ted Morter is currently listed as a "faculty" member of the group that bought GIN, AXS. So really, GIN didn't change hands at all.
Speaking of the GIN "faculty," I found it interesting that the public part of the GIN web site now only has a teaser video on the Faculty page. Do they have such a high turnover rate that they don't feel comfortable listing individual "faculty members" any more? Or were those individuals simply getting too much publicity (positive or negative)? In any case I thought it amusing that the final shot on the current video is a sound bite of Kevin Trudeau himself saying, "Listen to somebody who has what you want, and has been where you are." Well, I suppose that anybody who has aspirations to end up in Camp Cupcake (aka Federal Prison Camp Montgomery, Alabama) could do worse than listen to and follow in Katie's footsteps, though I imagine you would also have to have access to many millions of dollars to feed your high-priced lawyers (a la Katie) in order to be incarcerated in such (relative) luxury. Good luck! Let me know where you end up and give me your inmate number, and I might send you a postcard.
GIN "faculty" or not, it appears that the Morters are still quite involved in GIN, and they still maintain their GIN Morter Facebook page, which displays a website address that redirects to their main site. The Facebook page has a relatively modest number of "likes" at present -- only a little more than 900 -- but I have no doubt the Morters have profited handsomely from being a part of the GIN scam, particularly in GIN's heyday. However successful they may have been on their own, Katie gave them a huge platform they almost certainly would not have had otherwise.
And they got to have a lot of fun with Katie too, at others' expense. They were privileged to be part of numerous fishing trips and cruises with Katie, paid for by countless scammed GIN members and other consumers of Katie's frauducts and flopportunities. Here's a pic from happier days, of Old Doc and Younger Docs Morter on a private plane with Katie. (That's pool shark Mike "The Mouth" Sigel in the background.)
And here are Teddy and Tommy and Katie playing the fat-cat role to the hilt -- smoking expensive cigars, drinking expensive booze, and gabbing about energy, GIN, and fishing. It's an August 2011 video and I know I've linked to this one before, but it so deserves another sharing.
Are you disgusted yet? If so, prepare to become even more so.
Talk to the animals...
It's really no big surprise that there is an Animal B.E.S.T. We love our non-human companions, after all, and horse people aren't the only folks who, with so much love in their hearts, can be especially vulnerable to animal scams. Enter the Morters, who have been only too willing and able to reach deeply into the hearts and wallets of these loving souls with their pseudoscientific flapdoodle. Here's the capsule summary of what Animal B.E.S.T. is all about:
Animal B.E.S.T. (Bio-energetic Synchronization Technique) is energy work, which balances the body and updates memory patterns so animals can heal.
Yup. Same song, different verse.
Early in July I received a comment to a November 2014 blog post largely devoted to Katie and his scam circle. Rather than re-write what the commenter so adeptly wrote herself, here it is in full:
My correspondent (let's just call her Melissa) and I have communicated several times since her initial comment to my blog. She describes herself as a professional horsewoman with numerous championships and world titles in winnings. In short, as Melissa says, "I know horses." I believe her.
For personal and professional reasons Melissa wishes to remain anonymous, and that's one of the things that apparently riled Dr. Ted and James Murphy, as well as the guy whose video I linked to a couple of paragraphs up. That guy is a Texan named Joseph Agrue, who bills himself as "The Animal Shaman." He is another certified Animal B.E.S.T. practitioner and also a massage therapist -- somewhat of a New-Wage dilettante, it appears.
Melissa sent me correspondence and screen shots to back up her claims that she was treated first with indifference, then with suspicion and rudeness when trying to communicate with these people via phone, social media, and email. It appears that they all tried to turn the criticism on her, calling her cowardly and vengeful, among other things. For instance, in late July she sent an email to the Animal Shaman Joseph Agrue, which read, in part:
Here was the Animal Shaman's response:
...I am an Equine professional and I take exception to those that pretend to be helping horses when in fact they may be causing more harm. For you to pretend that you are qualified to instruct or train others to diagnose the origin of lameness in a horse is potentially harmful to both animal and human. The horse in your video has front feet issues that require the cooperation of veterinarian and farrier to address. The owner of that horse has wasted time and money on the BEST technique , when that horse could have gotten much needed care and real relief.
The claims that "the color changed" and that the horse "now has dapples" are ridiculous and patently impossible. That is a scientific impossibility. Also, to encourage inexperienced people to stand directly behind horses to "check their hip alignment" is another issue altogether. Is is just a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured.
Here is the deal; real horsemen know a fraud when they see one. Real horsemen want for the horses and owners to be well and safe. You sir are no horseman and it is glaringly obvious to those of us that are. You have no idea about lameness issues, you do not even use the correct verbiage unique to the industry. The claims being made are bogus and can be proven out by other Equine experts...
I have no doubt you are a vindictive evil woman. I talked to dr. [sic] Ted myself yesterday and he has no idea who you are. Unless you tell us who you are and give us a name and contact infol [sic] you're not going to be taken seriously you are a joke. why are you a coward and afraid to identify yourself?
In my years as a scam watcher, I have noticed that in addition to the usual ad hominem attacks on their critics (accusing them of being jealous losers, evil, or on someone's payroll, for instance), scammers love to call those critics out as cowards when they don't use their real or full names. Actually, though, I understand why Melissa hesitated about revealing her identity when communicating with these New-Wage hucksters. I have seen how angry and vindictive scammers and some of their lunatic fans can be. Some will even resort to sham lawsuits against their critics, or to serious attempts to physically endanger their critics. So I can't blame any critic or skeptic or questioner for being a little circumspect about his or her identity. That's not cowardice; it's simply common sense.**
There's another good reason for Melissa to shield her identity, apart from the plausible risk to her personal safety. If she were to reveal her identity and her business, particularly through this blog, she might be accused of engaging in underhanded self-promotion, and for that matter I might be accused of aiding and abetting someone whose agenda is to undermine the "competition." People might think that Melissa is no better than Coldwell and his former partner Peter Wink, who used their vitriol against GIN and Kevin Trudeau as a springboard to launch and promote their own GIN ripoff club, the IBMS Masters Society. And readers might question my ethics for allowing such promotion on my blog.
After questioning her at length, however, I personally am satisfied that Melissa is not in competition with the frauduct and flopportunity peddlers like the Morters and their "certified" Animal B.E.ST. practitioners. Rather she teaches real-world riding skills that include a variety of English and Western disciplines, including pleasure riding, jumping, trail riding, halter, reining, cutting, barrel racing, Western Dressage, team penning, and ranch sorting. In addition she says that she breeds, breaks and trains show horses. All of her life she has been around horses and horse breeders and trainers on both coasts and several spots in between. She seems like the real deal to me.
And although I have no way of knowing for sure, I think it is very possible Melissa would never have even heard of Animal B.E.S.T. had it not been for the fact that a woman contacted her, wishing to use Melissa's horse for "master certification" work in Animal B.E.S.T. The woman needed to complete and document 20 "cases" in order to receive her certification. Melissa describes her as having bought the Morter gimmick hook, line, and sinker but adds that she was able to teach the woman a few things about horses and the real reasons they do the things they do, which apparently rid the lady of her delusions about the horsey aspect of B.E.S.T. "But she is still into the human bioenergy crap," says Melissa.
My point here is that in most cases, erring on the side of caution regarding one's true identity is a smart thing to do when one is criticizing volatile and unstable people. I know from experience, and learned it years before I'd even heard of Loony Coldwell, that some of those "love and light" people are actually some of the darkest and most hate-filled -- not to mention litigious -- folks around, particularly if they think their income stream is being threatened. I think Melissa has been handling things sensibly, and more than that I think she is coming from a place of deep concern for horses and the people who love them.
As I explained in my response to Melissa's initial comment on my blog, I hadn't actually heard of James W. Murphy and when I looked him up, the first info that popped up was apparently for another James W. Murphy, a Maryland gentleman who died in 2009. That Murphy was also a horse person, but was involved with horse racing and was apparently credible and respected.
But the Animal B.E.S.T. James W. Murphy is very much alive and resides in Arkansas, where, as it happens, the Morters also hang their hats. If you Google James W. Murphy you have to be pretty specific, and even then you're more likely to get results for the dead Murphy. But there is this June 2013 video, which is one of the chief pieces of content that really got to Melissa, due to what she felt are Murphy's exaggerated or false claims about his own accomplishments. He also tells a touching back story that raised some serious red flags for her (it even sounded a bit suspicious to me, as little as I know about horses). Melissa explained the credibility gaps to me in detail. We'll have a little more about that in a moment, and I'll link to the video again.
Oddly enough, Murphy's actual web site doesn't seem to pop up very prominently in the search engines, but here it is. I am thinking that Melissa's efforts to reach out to B.E.S.T. and to Murphy himself had an effect. The above linked video apparently was but no longer is on the Animal B.E.S.T. site, though Murphy is still listed on that site as a certified Animal B.E.S.T practitioner. And more interestingly, Murphy's claims about his horse training creds and whatnot seem to be gone from the "About Us" page on his own site. Melissa sent me a screen shot of the original blurb that captured her interest. Here it is:
And here is how it looks today:
Melissa explained that some of the photos on James' web site were another red flag for her. Take, for instance, the three pics that are currently on the "About Us" page on his web site. Here's Melissa's critique:
In one, he has the lead rope wrapped around his wrist and hand. A HUGE no-no, any horseman would never ever do that.I'm no riding expert so I can't judge the photos myself. I'm just passing along what Melissa said. The money is definitely an issue I think I understand, though, and big money it is, potentially. Even if it is not huge money by the standards of Scamworld or the larger world of commerce, it still adds up. Melissa wrote:
In the middle one, he is all off center with his saddle slipping off to the right. His right stirrup is hanging lower than his left and he is twisted in the saddle. All because his cinch isn't even secure. Enlarge the photo and it is evident that the cinch tongue isn't through the latigo hole on his saddle. ...not to mention he has his horse over bridled, and by the look of the bit shanks, the curb strap isn't positioned correctly.
Then in the far right photo, his halter is not placed correctly on his horse's nose... I have 6 yr old beginner riders that know better than that!
When I pointed out to Ted [Morter] that people were paying big money to learn about horses from his so called expert, using false credentials, that's when he got touchy.
They charge $2,500 for people to attend their classes in order to be certified as practitioners for Animal B.E.S.T. (the Morter technique). [The woman who contacted me about using my horse] witnessed about 60 people at these animals classes. There are at least 4 per year which includes Paris, France as a venue. The animal classes have been going on for 8 years. Do the math...then these scammers charge naive pet owners $100 to "balance" their pets. They are in the process of requiring that all of their practitioners that wish to be certified in their human B.E.S.T. attend the animal classes. This will bump their sales up significantly as they offer at least 15 other events for certification.
Of note, the B.E.S.T. event going on in Paris, France this as-we-speak-end coincides with the GIN Paris event. That's cozy! Here is the schedule of upcoming B.E.S.T. events. And if you want more info about B.E.S.T. courses and their costs, go straight to the source and ask the horse. Not all of the links work correctly; some of the enrollment links lead to the Morters' frauducts catalog page. But at least one link directs properly, revealing the price for the course being described. The whole issue of the actual course costs is a little confusing to me, though, particularly after reading the FAQ page. In any case, it seems the training isn't terribly cheap, whether it's human B.E.S.T. or Animal B.E.S.T.
Another point of contention for Melissa was Murphy's video, which I mentioned above. It's not real new; it's from 2013, but Melissa assures me that it was up on the Morters' site until recently, when she began making noise about it. For Melissa the first red flag in this video was Murphy's apparent claim that he had more than 70 world titles. She wrote, "Hell, I'm accomplished, and having five to ten is damned impressive!"
Then there is the story Murphy tells in the video about how his horse Patches saved his life. I recommend that you watch the vid and hear it yourself, but I'll summarize it here. Murphy says he was riding Patches in traffic one day when an eighteen-wheeler made a big boo-boo, causing all sorts of mayhem and panic. He tried to get Patches to turn in a certain direction to avoid disaster, but Patches, for the first time EVER, ignored his instructions and turned sharply in the opposite direction. What happened next with the truck and the surrounding mess was a complete surprise to Murphy, but he says that he realizes that if Patches had obeyed him instead of going his own way, they would have both been killed. So... hero horsey, humbled rider.
But poor Patches hurt his back terribly from the sharp turn, said Murphy. He was so bad off that vets and horse experts told Murphy he should just have the horse euthanized. But how could Murphy do that to his faithful friend who had saved his life? Then Murphy heard about Animal B.E.S.T. He took Patches to an Animal B.E.S.T class to be worked on by the class. They all worked on Patches all day, and voila! Patches was healed and even better than before. So Murphy decided the right thing to do was to try to get in on some of that Animal B.E.S.T. action himself.
Here is Melissa's take on the story:
Of course if James W. Murphy (the live one, not the dead one) would like to contact this blog and counter any of the above, he is welcome to do so.
In Murphy's testimonial video he described how his horse "turned very quickly and hurt his back". I promise you Connie, nothing turns faster and harder than a Cutting Horse. They do it over and over and over without hurting their backs. lol. He did not mention that the horse fell...nor slipped...he only mentioned that it turned hard. That alone shows me his inexperience. Then he claimed that the horse would lie there and not get up. Again, I am here to tell you that a horse cannot lay down for long periods without creating a much more serious problem. His story is crap. And IF that horse were SO injured that a qualified lameness expert could not help it, nor get to stand, that damn BEST flimflam hocus pocus would not help! ...Plus, I asked him for the name of the attending veterinarian and what tests were done...no reply. *crickets*. But what a heart tuggingly new age feel good story that was eh? Horse saves man from death, BEST saves horse? Bull....
Melissa says her only motivation in making a stink about these frauduct and flopportunity peddlers is to promote the welfare of horses and the people who love and work with them. She says she even went so far as to persuade the Texas State Chemist to send Morter a cease and desist order against their pet feed supplements. "I have Ted's attention, and he sent me an email that pretty much reads as an offer of a bribe," she told me. I have seen an email where Ted asked what it would take to make her happy, so I suppose that could be open to an interpretation of bribery. It appears to me that what would make Melissa happy would not be bribe money, but a world in which scammers would stop taking advantage of good, decent people.
That would make me happy too.
I know this post has already dragged on more than long enough. But here's one final point. While we were on the subject of animal scams, Melissa and I also discussed the contemporary craze for various types of equine assisted therapy, which I snarked about it in one of those blog posts a few years ago. Melissa said that this therapy certainly does have its value in some contexts but is often misused. She wrote:
I have worked horse therapy with children with issues. It was really rewarding as the children were more active and attentive when interacting with the horses. However, there is now a push to use horses in all sorts of therapy. As you pointed out, they are the new dolphins!
...It is a racket filled with wannabes that can't wait to pretend they know something about horses.
The problem is how they use the horses....those therapists miss the real deal of what working with horses can do. They zero in on catch phrases like "trust" and use anthropomorphic reasoning to relate horses and humans. That is where they lose the whole basis on how horses can help humans work through issues. They do not understand the horse's viewpoint and how that can help the human. I get livid listening to their BS. Typical example is the Sandra Bullock film 28 Days, where she is in horse therapy and is told to "trust the horse" in order to pick up its foot. Ridiculous crap like that abounds. There is a very deep and real way that working with horse can help people, but first one has to truly understand the horse. And sadly not many people do.
People like think that horses are these mystical, all knowing animals that are half fairy dust and half quantum particles. They are an animal that is hard wired to react in a given way. Yes they have different personalities, but they are innately horses, period. You can call me from France and tell me about a problem with a Polish Arabian that was an embryo transfer from a Dutch Warmblood and I can tell you how to fix the problem. Horse behavior is not unique nor it is a "feeling". It is what it is...a learned herd behavior of a prey animal. Period.Call me a neigh-sayer, but I'll take the word of a genuine professional horse person over that of a New-Wage frauduct or flopportunity peddler any day.
* Speaking of martial arts and horse whispering, here's the latest offering from one of Lenny Coldwell's nuttiest friends/supporters/sycophants: stoner filmmaker, low-budget movie star and kick-boxer Ian Jacklin of iCureCancer infamy, who was supposedly going to be doing another breakthrough film about natural-cures heroes, featuring Lenny. No telling what happened to that; apparently he couldn't get sufficient funding. This vid is all about Ian, not Lenny. There's a lot in the vid about vaccination evils, wholistic cancer curing and even sovereign citizenry, though, all of which offer clear clues about why Lenny and Ian have been consistently masturbating each other. The horse whispering part of the new vid appears to be a mini-saga of Ian trespassing into someone's pasture to make friends with a nice horsey; it starts at about 12:00 and goes on for several minutes. Apparently Ian had been spending a great deal of time trying to get into the pasture, but was too stoned to figure it out until he finally discovered he could have just opened a gate and walked in all along. Watch the whole thing if you have time, though. It's hilarious. It's not quite Harold and Kumar quality, but still fun. And honestly, I can't tell if Ian is just a harmless stoner or deeply disturbed and potentially dangerous... or maybe just in character, playing a deranged activist. I'll leave that up to mental health experts and/or film critics to determine. Maybe "deranged" is just part of his persona, like his doppelganger Seann William Scott of Stifler/American Pie fame, who like Ian seems to be a little on the washed-up actor side. Except Seann may be a has-been, and Ian... well, he seems to be kind of a never-was...
** Regarding cowardice and anonymity: Even though I don't think it is necessarily a mark of cowardice to want to be anonymous online, I do think that the people who send anonymous death threats or abusive comments to critics and skeptics and questioners are cowards. I hear from such cowards all the time. Even so, I continue to allow anonymous comments on my blog. (Note: I'm not claiming that everyone who disagrees with me and chooses anonymity is a coward -- just the abusive ones.)
Some people have told me I am a fool for revealing my own identity on this blog, but I have a feeling that if I had tried to disguise it I would have been outed anyway, as my pal Salty Droid was not long after he began blogging. At any rate I'm "out," and have been facing the consequences for more than nine years now. Among many other things I, like my new friend Melissa, have been called an evil and vindictive woman (and worse).