Horse Journal Book Reviews

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?For Horse-Crazy Girls Only?

By Christina Wilsdon. Illustrated by Alecia Underhill. 160 pages. 2010. MacMillan. Hardcover. $14.99.

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This attractive book is stuffed full of trivia, facts and fun. It includes tidbits about the basics, like horse colors, saddle types, and riding apparel. It also explains how to get involved with horses if you don't have one (such as volunteering and taking lessons), and it stresses safety and responsibility with horses. The information is modern and geared toward the way kids think, with a list of the top-10 computer programs and website listings everywhere.

We won?t call this book in-depth or comprehensive, but it is well-written, and the short paragraphs, hot-pink accent color and easy-on-the-eye font catch your eye and make you want to look through it. it's fun to flip through the pages, and it's easy to envision this book at a horse party for kids (party ideas are included) or as the expert for an impromptu horse-trivia contest.

Much of the information reminds us of questions We've heard kids ask in barns, such as why does the horse wear boots' Do horses really sleep standing up' Why does that horse have spit all over his mouth' it's designed so a horse-crazy kid can feed her addiction, but it's not going to replace the Pony Club manual for the one who really needs to learn about horse care, grooming, anatomy, equitation and tack. it's fun, and it's interesting.

Bottom Line.Great for a beginner or a horse-crazy girl without their own horse, but it's disappointing for anyone wanting to learn more about care and riding.

Best suited for:Non-horse owners to beginner riders under age 12.

you'll be disappointed if:You expect this book to provide education for a kid who has advanced past walk-trot.

?The Forgotten Horses?

by Tony Stromberg. Foreword by Robert Redford. Paperback. 192 pages. 2008. New World Library. $24.95.

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Originally published in hardcover in 2008, this softcover coffee-table book is mainly photos. But not beautiful photos of jaw-dropping gorgeous horses set against well-manicured fields and barns that look better than many people?s homes ? the photos you want to rip out, frame and hang on your wall. This book focuses on the other horses. Wild horses, unwanted horses, ignored horses, and horses at rescue farms. It highlights the everyday horse. it's different. And different is good.

We're not sure Stromberg fully understands what He's given us. His introduction rambles through where He's been and what He's seen. He talks about rescue horses, PMU horses, wild horses, lonely horses, and why we want to keep horses behind fences. He's clearly sympathetic to unwanted horses, and he admires those who give the money, time and energy to give them homes. He loves horses, and he wants to share that. But words don't come easily to him; his talent lies behind the lens of a camera, not at a keyboard.

On first look, the photos seemed artsy, with creative cropping and misty focuses. Most are black and white or sort of duotone. The horses seemed boring. We just didn't get it.

Then we picked up the book again, alone in a quiet setting, and we caught the expression on the face of one horse. We could see what Stromberg saw. A hopeful look. We turned the page. A worried muzzle. Then a wary stance . . . a sad, tired eye . . . an expression that clearly said, ?I want to trust, but I know I can't.? Our heart went out to the horse rubbing his head on his friend, his face clearly showing that he hoped no human would break up their friendship. This book will make you feel, if you let it.

Bottom Line.The loneliness of these horses, and the lack of control over their own lives ? their dependence upon mankind who may or may not give a damn whether they lived or died ? jumps off of these pages. No horse should be forgotten, unwanted or unloved, and Stromberg made us wish we could save every one of them.

Our only disappointment was that Stromberg didn't tell us where these horses were. We really wanted to know which were wild. And we desperately needed to learn which ones were disheartened by the insensitivity of mankind.

Best suited for:A conversation piece, a coffee table in a waiting area, someone who is introspective or meditative.

you'll be disappointed if:You?re looking for something educational or any type of specific information about wild horses or rescue horses.

Lee Foley, Contributing Editor