Our Dream Reading List: Life Lessons from Horses

September 10, 2015 • Editorial, Featured

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Sometimes teachers can be pretty unconventional, and as shown in our third installment of back-to-school dream reading lists, they can also have four legs! Here, Lara shares five horse-related books that highlight some of life’s greatest lessons, and deliver heart-warming and sometimes heart-wrenching wisdom for us all.


Our Dream Reading List: Life Lessons from Horses

I once showed up to a yoga class wearing riding boots and the teacher exclaimed: “You can take the girl out of the paddock, but you can’t take the paddock boots off the girl!” And so my life has sort of been like that: from my first moment in the saddle when I was four years old, through teenage gallops through the grass. I still catch rides whenever I can, in part because heck—horses are smart; they remember things, like whether or not you’re the type to bring carrots, or even just simply, your face. They’ll teach you to be in the moment—always, because if your mind strays for a second in their presence, you could end up with a broken toe, or worse, in the dirt. They’ll teach you more than that, though, too: like how to relax, how to trust, and how communication can be as simple as…stillness. Here are five books that explore these lessons and more.

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Chosen by a Horse

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When an abused horse meets an abused human, miracles happen—and such is Susan Richards’ tale of how Lay Me Down, a rescued Standardbred mare burdened by pneumonia and a needy foal, opens Richards’ world. Both ladies have suffered at the hands of others, yet together they find healing. Whether it’s Lay Me Down’s unconditional affection and trust, or Richards’ lyrical, authentic prose, Chosen by a Horse tugs at your heart, and reminds of what it’s really like to love.

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Horse People

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The horse world is a SCENE—with a full cast of characters, and nearly all make an appearance in Michael Korda’s Horse People. Korda weaves his own personal accounts, photographs, and illustrations with the stories of others, and details with insight and humor how horsemanship is not just a skill to be learned, but a lifestyle that can instill confidence, inner strength, and other such qualities we’d all like to have.

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Horse, Follow Closely

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GaWaNi Pony Boy details the history, legends, and methods of Native American horsemanship, and how such training can not only forge stronger relationships between horses and humans, but between humans, as well. Yet while Pony Boy’s advice is sound, what makes Horse, Follow Closely extra special are the gorgeous, full-color photographs strewn throughout. Most feature Pony Boy and his stunning equine companions, and make this reading list staple delightful to read—and behold.

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Riding Between the Worlds

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Linda Kohanov’s Riding Between the Worlds illustrates how horses’ sensibilities relate to the human condition, and how equine wisdom can teach us so much about our own. Whether it’s silencing the ‘inner critic,’ relinquishing unfounded fears, or coming to an understanding of what matters most in life, Kohanov shares through insightful stories, and even Buddhist philosophy, how horses can help us learn such lessons, and catalyze us to grow, inward, on our own.

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Misty of Chincoteague

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No equine-inspired reading list would be complete without the novel that started it all—well, for me, at least. My mother read Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague (and the rest of the series) to me nearly nightly before bed. The story centers on Misty, inspired by Henry’s filly of the same name, born to wild ponies on Virginia’s Assateague Island. The real Misty’s parents were domesticated, and she was born to them on Chincoteague. Minor details, because Misty—real or fictional—and her wild pony family taught me about nature’s truest, most thrilling force: strength, and the inimitable sense of freedom that comes with it.