If you enjoy reading about horses in history, or just enjoy war stories then this is a great book for you! I'm pretty sure I'll pass this one over to my dad. The Perfect Horse tells the story of horses rounded up and kept in hiding during World War II. These horses were selected to create a master breed that was intended to be the perfect war animal.
Arabians and Lipizzaner from all different countries were stolen away from their homes and taken to a secluded farm to be bred into the perfect horse. These breeds were selected because of their beauty, strength, stamina and work ethic. Thankfully the two different breeds were never crossed but bloodlines and everything that went in to preserving these breeds up until this point were ignored and a lot of inbreeding took place.
This book is broken up into three parts, the first and largest section chronicles the horse's journey all around the countryside. This section is filled with stories about horses traveling hundreds of miles, tired, underfed, with feet worn down with bombs going off everywhere. The second section follows the American soldiers fighting their way across Germany and how they accidentally found out about the hundreds of stolen horses. The third section details the horses journey to safety. Unfortunately many didn't make it but quite a few did and their stories are heartwarming.
I don't want to spoil anything because you just need to read it! I'll say it was a little slow to get started but then it picked up and I couldn't put it down. Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts below.
I don't know if I've ever related so well to a book. A few years ago when I was going to school in New Jersey I interview with Tik to work for him as a working student. At the time the job wasn't the right fit for me, but I am so glad I've been able to learn from him anyway.
In this book Tik talks about his different experiences as a working student all over the world. He worked for strict show barns, family ranches and everything in between. As he experienced the many different ways of running a horse business Tik learned that all of this information was going to be crucial for him forming his own barn. This journey felt very relatable to me and I think it is a powerful one necessary for any future equine professional.
Tik has a way of writing that transports you in to the moment, sometimes it maybe trailed off a bit, but it always brought you back to a very real place. I think books like this are very timely and we need to be reading more like this! Seeing success in the horse business is often a mysterious vague story. Many times it seems like the only way to making it is through family money. In this book, Tik shows a more tangible approach to those who are willing to work for what they want. So much can be learned by getting out there in different ways to learn. If that is something you can't do, reading this book will make you feel like you've been out on Tik's journey with him!
Did you read this book with us? What did you think?
This book club selection was brought to you by Trafalgar Square Books.
All opinions are mine.
This would be a great book for beginners looking to understand more about horses. Dr. Hamilton goes all the way back to talk briefly about the history of horses and what shaped them into the creatures we interact with today. He explains how they have changed from being wild animals of the plains to domestic.
He then continues on to talk about basic horse/human interactions, like leading and grooming and how these simple tasks help you get to know, establish trust and bond with your horse. Hamilton then brings in the idea of chi and how our energy affects our horse. Now, don't let this turn you off because it sounds woo woo. Horses are prey animals and in order to survive all these years they have needed to sense danger without seeing, hearing or smelling it. The smallest thing needs to be noticed by a horse so they can determine if it is a threat or something to ignore. That means when you storm into the barn after a frustrating day at work, your horse absorbs all of that energy and can get just as jumpy as you are! He also talks about the power of intention, and I think this is where a lot of riders fall off the tracks. There needs to be an intention with everything you do with a horse and often times we're so distracted with so many other things the purpose and feel of the moment disappears.
While some of the sections I just skimmed over because they were basics I already knew, being refreshed on how a horse ticks is always valuable. Dr. Hamilton talked many times about if we want to truly partner with a horse we have to put our rushed, predatory ways aside and learn to have the patience needed to communicate clearly. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is around horses. Whether you are new to them, only around them because of someone else, or a trainer this book has many important topics and reminders!
So, I don't know if you remember me saying that I was nervous about reading this book. I honestly expected to read about questionable living conditions for the horses and dangerous things the horses were asked to do, but thankfully this book was the absolute opposite! Sonora's voice is so positive you can't help but feel the love and respect they had for their horses.
She talks about how they trained the horses and everything she said still holds true today. Good horsemanship is good horsemanship. I also expected the writing to feel older since the story is based on 1920ish happenings and published in the early 60's but the book feels modern even though traveling acts like diving horses is nothing I've ever known.
This was an easy read, it took me two days to finish, but it wasn't just easy for the sake of simplicity, I got wrapped up in the chapters describing each horse Sonora rode and how detailed she was in sharing their unique personalities. I felt like I got to know each horse and really saw how the horse had a passion for their job just like any horse could have today. The horse's personalities shined through so well that I found myself actually laughing out loud that my husband asked what was happening.
I also expected that the circumstances of Sonora going blind would have been from negligence or some scary disaster that I was hesitant to read about. But, in true horse person fashion, the incident that lead to her blindness is something I could see most horse people brushing off and continuing on like nothing happened. She actually continued her act for 11 years after going blind! Sonora was a true tough as nails horse professional that I see constantly in the industry today.
This book far exceeded my expectations and was very enjoyable! I'm looking forward to finding the movie made based on it (Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken) to watch as soon as possible!
Charlotte Dujardin has taken the dressage world by storm! Basically, as soon as she reached the top level she was winning all the major titles with her horse Valegro or known in the barn as Blueberry. At only 33 years old Charlotte will be around for many years and getting a glimpse into her life thus far was a treat. Often, you get to read about great riders after their careers are somewhat over. I feel like I got a peek into the current industry at this current time instead of looking back on an industry I've never known. More riders should put out books!
The book starts by walking you through Charlotte's riding as a child and how it was a family affair. She even left high school at 16 to pursue her riding. And at 21 she started her working relationship with Carl Hester, who she still works with to this day. It was interesting to think about the differences between the U.K. and the U.S. and being so much closer to all of your countries top riders instead of being spread out so far.
Charlotte's writing style is so comfortable and enjoyable. I feel like I know her and if we ever met we would already be friends. I liked that she shared her battle with depression. It's so easy to think that someone with so much success would be immune to those feelings. I love that she's contributing to a conversation that is worth having! Through her stories, we got a glimpse into what it takes to be at the highest level of the equestrian sport. I was shocked to read about how hard she is on herself, she would come out of the ring with a record breaking score and still talk about all the parts that went wrong. Some parts of this book were definitely hard to relate to, but all in all I really enjoyed it!
This book was brought to you by Trafalgar Square Books.
All opinions are my own.
I have seen this book many times in horse catalogs and it was when I started listening to The PlaidCast that I heard Tonya's episodes diving deeper in to top professionals and leading rider's mental game. I'm always curious as to what makes the top in this sport tick and grabbing a copy of Inside Your Ride seemed like a natural next step.
The book is broken into 11 sections and are further broken down from there. I was surprised with how much content was stuffed into this book! Topics like motivation, confidence, focus, vision, energy, attitude, preparation, communication, resilience, competing and returning to riding are all well covered.
With so many valuable sections I found that I needed more time to digest what I was reading than other books. I could almost see this being a book I referenced back to at different times of the year when I was dealing with a specific issue. I found that I had already implemented many of Tonya's recommended techniques to handling my mental game, but I think journaling is something I need to try.
As I was reading I couldn't help but think that every one of my students should read this book. Becoming aware of the things that hold you back is such an eye opening experience and is critical to moving past it and I think this book puts to words many things that can stop riders without them knowing it. I also found this book helpful to myself as a professional. Just because riding is part of my job doesn't mean I don't experience fear and doubt. It also brought to the forefront of my mind on how to help mentally prepare my riders for their own riding and showing goals! And with IEA Nationals coming up in a few weeks I want my girls as mentally prepared as possible for the things coming ahead!
I definitely recommend that anyone who rides horses read this book! Riding is always more mental than it is physical and making sure you are ready to handle those setbacks is very important to a continued riding career of any kind.
Be sure to check out Tonya's work as a Mental Skills Coach for Equestrians!
What originally drew me to this book was the title. I want to be a better rider, but I’m not a beginner. Denny Emerson, the author of this book is a Hall of Fame eventing rider who owns and operates Tamarack Hill Farm in Strafford, VT. As a hunter jumper rider myself I learned of Denny through Facebook. On his barn’s page they are always sharing inspiring and thought provoking posts. I didn’t realize this was the same person till after I started reading.
The book is formatted more like a textbook and less like a regular reading book. The sections of the book are "Wannabes" vs. "Gonnabes," The Riding Sport that's Right for You, Dealing with the Cards You Hold, "No Man is an Island," Nine Character Traits for a Successful Rider, The Body You Choose to Ride With, Swim (or Flounder) in the Vast Sea of Horse Knowledge, The Horse: A Rowboat or Yacht? and A Quiver Full of Arrows. And scattered throughout the book are interviews with top riders from all disciplines on their thoughts on what made them good riders.
One of the things I liked the most was the way Emerson talked about subjects that are very real in the equine world. Financial advantages and having existing connections place some riders leaps and bounds ahead of others and he did not shy away from talking about those points. But the uncontrollable conditions riders have, either positive or negative, were much smaller in number and importance versus the things everyone can change. We all have the power to become more compassionate riders. We all have the power to keep learning about best horse care practices. And all of those things, make us better riders.
The final chapter Denny talked about filling your quiver with arrows, and those arrows are different skills and strengths. He said that each of these arrows are things we can take ownership of and add to our quiver. And that was a very inspiring message to be able to take away. I am definitely not a rider with a financial upper hand so reading about all of the other different things I can do to become a stronger rider motivated me.
This book is pretty compact and can be a quick read, but with so much valuable content it is best read in small chunks where you can digest and put into practice what you just read. I highly recommend reading this book if you want to become a good rider!
Can you believe that January has already come to a close? And that means our first month of the book club has wrapped up too! If somehow you haven't read this book yet, or seen the movie Harry & Snowman, watch out there may be some spoilers ahead!
I originally picked this book up a couple of years ago and read it then and I absolutely loved it! Rereading it flooding me with the same emotions all over again.
The book starts describing the dire situations that both Harry de Leyer and the future star Snowman were found. Both worked hard and the grey plow horse bound for slaughter found his luck when Harry made the truck diver unload every horse so Snowman could come home with him. Originally hoping the grey could be a useful school horse at the all girls Knox school, Harry quickly found out the horse would excel at that job and so much more!
Not only does this book outline Snowman's special story but it also gives you a history lesson on what the equine industry in America was like in the late 40's, 50's and 60's. Now it's hard to imagine any of our horses at the barn being used as a military mount but back then the memories were still fresh. Horses were in transition from tools of work to companion of sport.
Another unique thread to this story is the pursuit of the American dream. Harry de Leyer and his wife immigrated from Holland and found themselves working long hard days to provide for their family that eventually totaled six children. One thing that I think rings true to this day was Harry's willingness to do whatever it took to make a career around horses. He spent his days riding whatever was around and doing all of the heavy lifting himself.
But the top levels of the show jumping sport weren't far from Harry's mind, especially after Snowman showed off his ability by jumping out of a field with a tall fence to get back home. Once Snowman had made his point clear that he would not be sold and that he was Harry's forever, the two were inseparable. Going to horse shows became a new normal for the pair and even some exhibitions when Harry and Snowman would jump over another one of the de Leyer's horses.
In two years time, from 1956 when Snowman was pulled of the truck headed for the slaughterhouse to 1958, Harry and Snowman had become sports celebrities after a huge win at the show at Madison Square Garden. Reading about the grandeur of the show, and the emotions Harry experienced after winning make any rider want to experience that themselves. And who knows maybe one day find their own $80 champion.
The Eighty-Dollar Champion is a New York Times Bestseller, was written by Elizabeth Letts and originally published in 2011 by Ballantine Books.
What was your favorite part about the book? Comment below to keep the conversation going!
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