The paradox of horses is that they do not have to carry us, but they agree to do so, according to author Teresa Martino, a horse lover and philosopher to the core. "Why is this?" Martino asks rhetorically. "The horse gives their consent and brings a grounding that humanity craves. The horses carry the power of the wildness that graciously allows us to fly above the land." In this unique memoir Martino tells the stories of all the horses she has ever loved, weaving her memories into a sage-like narrative that examines the spiritual and passionate relationships between humans and horses. Recalling a mare from her girlhood, Martino writes: "With Sunny I experienced what the Greek historian and commander Xenophen called the 'divine sensation.' The feeling of oneness and power that you share with the horse when you both understand one and another and move together in balance.... I was no longer a dusty child in cut-offs ... I was Artemis chasing deer, my bow to shoulder under the ancient moon." What makes this memoir especially readable and important is that Martino also understands human-to-human relationships--whether she's exploring her own Native American roots, dealing with mysterious sightings of her deceased father, or accepting her own limitations as a rider. This is one wise soul and strong storyteller--an excellent book for any lover of horses and life. --Gail Hudson
Martino's luminous account of her lifelong love affair with horses is a moving, fiercely lyrical spiritual autobiography. Growing up on a California ranch, she learned to love horses from her Brooklyn-born Italian-American father ("The horses are blessed, chosen by God," he whispered to her when she was four), and from her Native American mother, in whose Osage traditions horses left deep tracks. Horses, "four-legged spirits that grace the grass," teachers of patience, balance, courage, trust and cooperation, are trail markers on Martino's inner journey. At age 19 she trained at the Vale, England's tough equestrian academy. At 28, the ghost of her father, who'd been dead several years, haunted a barn and was seen by two witnesses. Martino brought back from the brink and restored to health Belle, a gray mare whose cruel owner had beaten, isolated and starved her. Visiting the Blackfeet reservation in Montana, she received as a gift a wild stallion--a bridge to her ancestors who rode the hardy Plains horses as buffalo runners. In the book's most dramatic true-life tale, she defiantly quits her job as director of a horse facility rather than break in a gentle golden bay that does not want to jump cross-country obstacle courses. Exchanging security for freedom, she goes to live in a cabin with three "shy" wolves on an island off Washington State, where she now trains horses and runs Wolftown, a nonprofit organization that rescues wolves and horses. Martino believes that horses crave a good partnership even with an untrustworthy species like humans. Her tales of healing, survival and love indicate that we have much to learn from our equine friends. (Dec.)
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