Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Horsey Books - A Love Hate Relationship

I am obsessed with horses, always have been, always will be.  I have been very fortunate to have owned and ridden horses most of my life, competing in various disciplines from barrel racing, goat tying to hunter under saddle and more.  Currently, I own Ima Cool Tater, a four year old American Paint Horse. 
Here he is, the handsome fellow!

I frequently try and combine my obsession with horses with my obsession for books often with mixed feelings.

As a kid I read and re-read The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, and My Friend Flicka.  Naturally, I wanted a wild black horse and a magical relationship where my love for this animal would conquer all.  Ha!  Was I in for a huge disappointment.  My first horse (that was solely mine) was big grey quarter horse, he was and is a gentle giant of sorts.  However, I spoiled him with my love and he became a naughty, herd bound, stiff horse.  When he misbehaved I couldn't understand - I loved him so he should be the worlds greatest barrel horse.  Of course this is overly simplified, I spent hours riding and training him to the best of my ability, but my ability was clouded by the idea that love would conquer all!

Fast forward twenty or so years and I still gobble up horsey books, however, I am not so easily persuaded by the romantic ideals of the horse and rider relationship.  In fact, I down right hate it books that perpetuate this idea.  This winter I read Riding Lessons and Flying Changes by Sara Gruen, I loved Water for Elephants so I figured these had to be decent at least.  Many of the reviews I read stated you could tell the author was a horse person so I was anxious for a realistic read.  Hmmm, not so much, again, overly romanticized relationships with horses.  The main character is a former Olympic level rider who leaves the sport after a horrific accident but later in life is forced back to her families barn to manage it.  Here she rescues a horse that looks just like the horse she lost however, this horse has been abused, is missing an eye and was on his way to a slaughter house.  Of course this has a happy ending, her daughter ends up being a riding progeny and their love saves the abused horse.  Then I read Spirit Horses by Alan S. Evans, I am not sure if this author has ever ridden a horse.  Spirit Horses is the overly stereotypical tale of a "horse whisperer" who faces a great personal tragedy and decides he must release a mustang he owns back to her herd.  In the process he saves a entire Indian reservation and makes the mustang happy by allowing her to live her natural life.  I am now, after reading these and others, thoroughly disillusioned with the whole horsey genre.

Currently, I like books that incorporate horses but where horses are not necessarily the main theme. I can tolerate inaccuracies and fairy tales in small doses.  So I enjoyed The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton D,Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, and Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers and other books with horses incorporated somewhat into the story. 

I am in search of a good horsey book, one that is realistic and accuratly portrays the dedication, frustration, the highs and lows of horse owner ship, training and riding - -if you know of something comment and share your horsey book gem!

My favorite Horsey books
The Horse Whisperer     Nicholas Evans
Seabiscuit: An American Legend     Laura Hillenbrand
The Complete Guide to Hunter Seat Training, Showing, and Judging: On the Flat and Over Fences
Anna Jane White-Mullin
Clinton Anderson's Downunder Horsemanship:  Establishing Respect and Control for English and Western Riders        Clinton Anderson
Charmayne James on Barrel Racing    Charmayne James

And check out my to read shelf on Good Reads, there are some horsey books waiting to be critiqued!


  1. Interesting post - I think in fiction books you're pretty much always going to find that "love conquers all" theme going on, so it might be hard to find a book where the horse never really comes around. I don't think most people want to read about reality! :-)

    I'm not really a horse book reader, but if I happen to come across one that seems more realistic, I'll let you know!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  2. Yea! Nicole, thanks for being the brave first follower of my blog! If I had a prize I would totally give it to you!
    Horsey books are a tough genre, I think typically they appeal more to those not active in equestrian pursuits so they are able to take more creative liberties!


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