From Publishers Weekly
During her midlife quest to explain the horse-filled frenzy of her childhood, Pierson (The Perfect Vehicle: What Is It About Motorcycles?) interviews the founder of an equine welfare group who expertly classifies the three kinds of women who love horses: "[T]hose who want something out of them, personally or professionally; those who anthropomorphize them; and those who are seeking a higher knowledge about horses and humans and the mysteries of their intersection." The author falls into the last group as she plumbs the depths of both the feminine and the equine, looking closely at how the two intertwine. Although the book freely mixes history, memoir, sociology, psychology and even snippets of poetry, Pierson does follow a clear narrative line. Acknowledging that her love of horses has endured long past childhood, she signs up for riding lessons. As she recalls passages from Black Beauty and describes Breyer model horse competitions from her youth, the author grows into a better horsewoman, remembering riding techniques and recapturing her love for manure's particular smell. As she gets more expert, her meditation on women and horses deepens and ranges more widely, encompassing horse racing, sidesaddle riding, class issues and competition. Pierson's smooth writing style is well suited to her subject, containing bits of breathless enthusiasm one moment and peaceful contemplation the next. Although she doesn't arrive at a definitive answer to why little girls all over the Western world suddenly become horse obsessed, she does provide a host of smaller, personal epiphanies about a woman's need to connect with the natural world, and the empowerment that comes from commanding a larger, more forceful being. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Pierson, whose previous book celebrated motorcycles, was one of those girls who love horses beyond reason, an obsession she explores in a vivifying, mosaiclike inquiry into our ancient and complex relationship with these powerful yet vulnerable beings. The world would be a very different place without the horse, Pierson observes, since they helped us become mobile, farm, build cities, and fight wars, and the number of horses who died in the line of duty is bloodchilling: 52,000 were killed in the Battle of Stalingrad alone, and nearly that many died in the streets of New York in 1916. This sad legacy shadows Pierson's penetrating musings on the beauty and soul of horses; her intriguing and anecdotal exploration of the seemingly biological, perhaps cosmic, connection between women and horses (almost all devoted riders are female); and her frank critiques of today's trendy equine universe. As she considers the enigmatic yet life-enriching nature of interspecies communication, Pierson makes plausible the assertion of many horsewomen that communing with horses is nothing less than a "path to illumination." Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved