“The thought of horses changes my spirit; inhaling their sweet aroma, fingers pulling softly through silky tail hair, my heart translating their secret language of snuffles, whuffles, and whinnies.” ~ from The Breath of Horse Crazy
Women with a deep affinity for horses struggle to define the near gravitational pull horses have on them. They might say it has always been there, that they don’t remember not loving horses. Or perhaps it was sparked by a defining experience when they were young. In The Breath of Horse Crazy Lynn Baber deftly explores this connection using her considerable and substantial professional and personal experience. She vividly recalls her first ride (and fall) and shares engaging and thoughtful stories, as well as some of the challenges she faced with her horses. Advice and instruction are plentiful but conversational rather than lofty. Interspersed are contributions from trusted friends and fellow horsewomen she considers her “sisters in the Realm of Horses”. Readers of a certain age who bounced and rocked their way through imaginary fields on a springy, plastic Wonder Horse may be momentarily transported by an anecdote, hopefully not remembering how the spring occasionally pinched a bare leg.
What this book is not, is veiled marketing by a “name” trainer, although Baber certainly earned distinguished recognition and success in show and breeding circles. Where it differs from others is in Baber’s authentic voice. There is undeniable honesty and openness and includes a peek into Baber’s sense of humor that may cause an unexpected laugh here and there. The book’s path is easy to follow with passages that the reader will mark and re-read. Just when the reader senses authenticity and humility in the writing, she will discover sections devoted to both as they relate to horse training and the relationship that is vital to a true partnership. Readers will appreciate the ringside seat to Baber’s methods of dealing with and resolving relationship problems with her own and some of her clients’ horses. There is plenty to learn in the process. Baber trusts herself and her experience enough to share examples of her own trials and occasional missteps. She also is honest about her own physical challenges–something that will resonate with WARHorse readers who cringe with pains from age or past injuries.
A primary thread in The Breath of Horse Crazy is the relationship between women and horses and a life of faith. Baber is a Christian author with a background in ministry, and it is clear her faith is as integral to her life as her horses. But this is not a religious book. With few exceptions, Baber recognizes and respects that all readers may not be interested her viewpoint. She references scripture as footnotes, or examines relationship parallels in passages that are easily bypassed or skimmed.
This is a refreshing read by a talented and experienced writer that deserves a space on the bookshelf. It presents a compassionate and personal look at the deep connection between women and horses, and undoubtedly will help resolve some of the stumbling blocks that arise when we don’t understand or fail to nourish relationships with our equine partners. An unintended benefit may be a boost in confidence when our horses show us what is possible.
Reviewed by Karen McPeak