Reviews

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I recently acquired a seven-year-old AQHA gelding named Playboy. Never in my career have I seen a horse holding that much tension in his body. His entire neck felt like one gigantic stone. I was told that he had been a rope horse at some point, was very cold-backed, had suffered some physical abuse, and that last year he endured a full rotational fall in a horse trailer and had torn his latissimus dorsi muscle.

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Riders often focus on training their horses to do specific movements such as those needed for dressage, show jumping, cutting, reining, or myriad other sports. However, focusing on teaching skills rather than increasing strength and fitness can lead to potential unsoundness or a shorter competitive lifespan.

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The cowboy was not born in a vacuum; he was molded by the fusion of Spanish, Mexican, Native American, and Anglo cultures, as Daniel Pruitt explains in his glossy, photo-rich book Cowboy: American Icon. A Short History of Wild West Culture.

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This enchanting little book follows a bay ranch horse and his ginger feline companion as they wander through their ranch on an autumn day. Throughout their conversation, the two disagree about what is good and bad, and how they feel about different things.

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Secretariat is a household name in the horse industry. The video of “Big Red” winning the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths in 1973 and cementing his Triple Crown win is jaw-dropping. But few know about the Canadian jockey who won those spectacular races — Ron Turcotte. He hails from small-town Drummond, New Brunswick, won 3,032 races over his 17-year career, and was the first of five Turcotte brothers to exchange logging and picking potatoes for the glitzy world of Thoroughbred horse racing. Cumulatively, the Turcottes won over 8,200 races and almost $60 million in purse money.

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This complex memoir recounts Johnston’s internal tussles and deep reflection on finding meaning in the latter part of life. After splitting with her long-term partner, leaving her job of 16 years, and losing family relevance, Johnston — a 60-year-old woman from Vancouver Island, BC — goes to Africa on horseback safari. Her writing invites readers to question their limiting beliefs and internal barriers while navigating life’s challenges and opportunities. Nuanced storytelling and Johnston’s willingness to share her raw feelings while hoping for “an opening in the dark forest” of her life drew me in.

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Fundamental Communications for Training, Riding, and Caring for Your Horse - “A willing servant is still a servant,” says Sharon Wilsie in her introduction to Essential Horse Speak. It’s the premise which started Wilsie’s lifelong journey of understanding how horses communicate. She explains what she’s learned to date in her new book, Essential Horse Speak.

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By Vivien Gorham

Nimbus Publishing Limited, 2022; Fiction; ISBN: 9781774710654; 296 pages; paperback. 

Reviewed by Sage Millen 

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Are you a midlife novice horsewoman wondering about the ins and outs of having a horse? If so, this book can help. It’s clearly designed to answer questions for women who are finally living their dreams of riding or owning a horse — whether they’re new to the horse world or returning after a long absence.

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101 Exercises for Schooling and Competing - The Working Equitation Training Manual is exactly as described and fills a gaping hole in many riders’ libraries. The book is a handy size for the barn and clearly explains and illustrates the movements required in working equitation competitions.

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