Monday, October 5, 2009

Horse stories: Books You'll Enjoy

I've been on a reading binge- and enjoying some great horse stories. I usually don't read animal stories, because I need an escape from my all pets all the time life, but these snagged my interest, and I'm glad they did. 

Horse Heaven, by Jane Smiley
This is a great novel, providing a tongue in cheek look at the eccentric variety of characters who own thoroughbreds. What I really enjoyed was the chapters told from the viewpoint of the various horses. She really provides a unique perspective, which doesn't usually match what the people are thinking. If you like long books, you'll enjoy this one. It does get a little confusing because there are so many characters, but Smiley provides a list of who's who, including owners, jockeys, trainers and horses in the front of the book.

Stud, By Kevin Conley
My friend Gina Spadafori from the Pet Connection is a big racing fan, and when I mentioned Horse Heaven, she recommended Stud. This is a non-fiction book by an editor from New Yorker magazine. The books details the ins and outs (oh, the pun!) of the horse breeding business, and he never loses sight of the absurdity of it all, especially when viewed by an outsider. You'll read about the breeding careers of the great Storm Cat and Seattle Slew, along with a host of other lesser known mares and stallions. The money involved is astounding, the stories amusing, and the education... well, enlightening. A good read.

Chosen By A Horse and Chosen Forever, by Susan Richards
These last two go off in a different direction. If you've been involved in pet rescue of any kind–dog, cat, horse, rabbit–you'll identify with author Susan Richards and her book, Chosen By A Horse. The author writes a memoir about a horse named Lay Me Down that she rescues from severe neglect. The book is as much about her own life and recovery from divorce as it is about the love she has for Lay Me Down, Hotshot and her other horses. In many ways, I felt like I was reading my own story of my life with Spice and Sage in Seattle, and of my divorce and subsequent years of recovery (I, thank God, did not relate to the abusive upbringing she suffered). 

The sequel, Chosen Forever, is about how, having written Chosen by A Horse, Richards goes on a book tour, and the life-changing events she experiences, including reconnecting with old friends and finding love. I again, felt like I was reading my own story here, as I have been finding old friends lately and enjoying our reunions (Thank you, Facebook). I don't buy into the theory that you have to have a man in your life to be happy, and she doesn't either, though it happens to her. Some of us can be perfectly happy alone, as I am. This book is not so much a horse story as a personal journey, and a very interesting one. 

I have written a book, but my own rescue book is still brewing inside me-- maybe the person who gave me these books was telling me to write it. 

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