Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Review: Chosen By a Horse

Chosen By a Horse: How a Broken Horse Fixed a Broken Heart
by Susan Richards

My mother lent this to me a very long time ago, and now that I am no longer in graduate school, I've been working through my backlog of loaned and long-ago-purchased books. I picked this up to head off to a long weekend at a house in the White Mountains, and it suited lazy hammock reading nicely.

Richards has a very straightforward, simple writing style. Probably about half the time it worked for me, and the other half I felt frustrated that she was clearly describing things far too plainly. I can tell there's a good, knowledgeable horsewoman in there, but several times I spotted her dumbing down her descriptions or analyses for a broader audience.

The story of Lay Me Down really was touching, and well-told. The mare sounds like she was utterly wonderful, with loads of personality. I'm not sure she "fixed" Richards; as another reviewer pointed out, the battles with alcoholism and abandonment were in Richards' past by the time she adopted the mare. If there was some more profound connection between the mare's story and Richards moving to a new phase of her life - I didn't get it.

The only parts that truly annoyed me were some of Richards' horsekeeping decisions. More than anything else, her decision to enclose her barn inside her pasture and then...leave the stalls open all day, let the horses wander in and out of stalls seemingly at will, and feed them wherever they hung out, sometimes in the aisle, really, REALLY grated on me. I'm not sure what she expected would happen with an alpha mare and a small enclosed space. That's an accident that should NEVER have happened, and from descriptions later in the book she really had no intention of fixing the problem.

Anyway. Those reservations aside, this was a pleasant enough read. It didn't change my life, but I also found it quite readable and read to the end - something of a feat for me and books recently.

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