Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Soliloquy-- Horse Crazy

As a beginning reader, I've already told you that I fell in love with Thornton Burgess, and I was still reading his animal stories when my mother waved Little House in the Big Woods under my nose. I traveled everywhere by covered wagon as long as I was reading about Pa and Ma and Half Pint. But what was my next big love affair?

Well, that's about the time I fell in love with horses. I remember my grandmother's disdainful sniff. "It's a phase," she said. "All little girls fall in love with horses. It will pass."

This is where I snort. Unladylike I know. But did she ever have that wrong! There is a beauty, a power, and a grace in horses that makes my soul happy. Back in the 70s, I was on horseback in southern Utah when Jimbo whinnied and crow-hopped a time or two. I looked to see what had stirred him up, and there in the distance was a band of wild horses galloping full tilt with snow-capped mountains as a backdrop.

To this day, it's still one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. But I digress. Let's get back to the books.

Marguerite Henry was first to be devoured. I don't think there was one of her books that I didn't read and love...King of the Wind, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Black Gold.... They were all marvelous stories that taught me a few things about talent, about perseverance, and about ignoring idiots when they make fun of you. You can learn a few things from a horse. And to be honest with you, I think I first began appreciating art from Henry's books with their wonderful illustrations by Wesley Dennis.

Walter Farley was next. Who could not fall under the spell of The Black Stallion? When I began reading about the adventures of the Black, my bicycle turned into a racehorse. No one could beat us! Many years later, this same book holds the distinction of being one of the few books that have been turned into an equally marvelous movie.

The years passed, and my love of horses didn't dim. My grandmother wisely stopped mentioning phases. I had a deal with my mother that, if I finished all my work at the library, I could leave early on the Saturdays when Triple Crown races were being run. I'd make a mad dash for home, pull a footstool in front of the television and straddle it like I was sitting in a saddle, and root my favorite home to the wire. In 1973, I was jumping up and down on a bed in a motel room in Salt Lake City, Utah when Secretariat won the Belmont by 31 lengths. Do I have any books about Secretariat? I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count!

As I grew older, the horse books grew, too. Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit, An American Legend is not only a superb biography of a racehorse, it's also a wonderful history of the era. It too has the distinction of being turned into a first-rate film.

When my grandmother was wrong, boy was she wrong! (I take after her in this respect.) My love of horses has never died. I don't think it ever will. I've been able to see famous race horses in the flesh, and to me, it's even better than meeting a famous human. (You don't have to worry about being tongue-tied.) I own several books of equine art, and my wish list at Paperback Swap contains wishes for other horse books. (I wish someone could cough up that book on Phar Lap!)

As a parting shot, I'll leave you with a photo of how my living room looked for many years. If you're unable to list two of my lifelong passions, let me know. I'm sure I can give you the name of a good eye doctor!


  1. Grandmothers can´t win every time.
    But for me horses was just a phase. The Little House was also a phase - a long and wonderful one, and for my youngest it has not quite ended yet after 11-12 years with Laura. We bought the series in English last year so she could enjoy it once again.

  2. That made me laugh - the photo of your bookshelf with the horses lined up on top, combined with your comment about spotting your two passions.

  3. My mom used to have horses all over her fireplace. All gone now. I love that pic of your living room, not for the horses but for the books, yum! :D

  4. Cathy, which exact Phar Lap book are you looking for?

    Maybe you should come to Australia to see his heart! You guys can stay with us and we can talk about...BOOKS!

  5. I bet people know what to get you for Christmas. I too saw a band of wild horses but it was in Wyoming, That's been a long time ago but I will remember the sight, sound and smell of that herd till I die. One of my favorite memories. This was a very good post.

  6. Dorte--I'm glad your daughter is enjoying the Little House series!

    Jemima--I make it easy for people who walk in the door to figure me out, don't I? LOL

    Claire--I put the horses in storage because I got tired of dusting them, and those books are all histories and biographies!

    Susan--The title of the book is Melbourne Cup 1930: How Phar Lap Won Australia's Greatest Race by Geoff Armstrong and Peter Thompson. I'd love to visit Australia because I have several online friends there whom I'd love to meet, but I don't think I could endure the flight. I could be certifiably insane by the time the plane landed in Oz, and I don't thin that's the best sort of visit!

    Margot--Usually only two people buy gifts for me, and I don't think they have any problem. :) I'm so glad you also got to see wild horses. They are such a wonderful thing to see.

  7. What a great picture! How about Man O'War. In grade 6 I chose it for a book report. I cried and cried over that horse and still remember the book.

  8. Luanne--I'd never ever neglect Man o' War! I have three books about him on my shelves! :)

  9. What a lovely photo of your book shelves. I wish I was there to look through all of those titles. And of course your other passion the horses.

  10. LOL!! Your Breyer collection looks like mine!!

  11. I love all the photos of your bookcases that you've posted over the time I've been reading your blog.

    If someone were to walk in my house right now, she'd think I was passionate about:


    ugh, must go attack housework ... nice taking a break with you!

  12. Jennifer--Those are just some of my bookshelves. I'm glad you like them, and thanks for stopping by!

    BikerPup--Once in a while I get the feeling that we're twins separated by birth! LOL

    Dawn--I'm glad you could take a break with me. Somehow I think two of those three passions you listed are ringers! ;)


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!