The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd
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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2008
A friend recommended this book to me and I wasn't sure why since I have never owned a horse..nor did I plan to own one. But I bought the book anyway....always up for learning something new.

This book swept me away. From the first to last page I felt transported! I could imagine myself sitting on the porch of the Camp's home watching these magnificent creatures. I learned SO much about horses and their SOULS. With everything that's been going on in the world of horse racing, this could not have been written at a more appropriate time.

The book is clever, witty and inspiring. A very fast read. I was sad when I finished it because I wanted to read more! And so many of the lessons can be applied to LIFE...not just horses.

You will not regret reading this book. And I will never look at a horse the same way.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Through his work with Benji, it is clear that Joe Camp understands and gets along well with dogs. Working effectively with horses requires a whole different type of intuition and language. After all, dogs are predators and horses are a prey species. In his outstanding book, The Soul of a Horse, Joe Camp has demonstrated that he is adept at understanding and working with both ends of the spectrum. It is inevitably refreshing when someone approaches a subject with a "fresh set of eyes" and questions traditional paradigms. Joe has done exactly that and effectively describes his thought processes in an enjoyable narrative. Thanks, Joe for nudging the horse loving public to think about and reconsider things that have been taken for granted for so long.
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158 of 186 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2008
A friend of mine gave me this book. I was so excited as I have always raved to her about the magical bond between humans and horses. I have owned, trained, and loved horses for the last 30 years. Most of my experience predates the relatively newer "Natural Horsemanship" movement that has seized the horse community. There has always been a rash of bad trainers and bad horse people in the world who felt domination was more important than respect. I am NOT one of those people. I myself use and implement natural horsemanship techniques every single day. I have a very strong bond with all of my horses.

The book began on a good note; the key to a successful relationship is establishing a good strong bond. KUDOS! But then it went downhill with the author criticizing and dismissing nearly 90% of the equine owning world. Horses should be outside 24/7... they never need to wear shoes... they never need to be blanketed... etc... He spoke in terms of absolutes and certainty... that those things NEVER should be done to a horse. To do them is inhumane bordering on abusive.

I have owned many horses and performed in many different fields. I have shown, jumped, dressage, endurance trail, and pleasure. While your typical pleasure horse that is not being worked vigorously daily probably will never need shoes, or need to be stalled (I don't believe in stalling a horse 24 hours), or need a blanket; performance horses are a different story. Some of my performance horses do need shoes, and in winter they do in fact need to be blanketed to allow their body to regulate after a work out. Sometimes we even have to body clip them so that they can cool down without catching a chill or getting muscle cramps. Leg wraps are for their protection, not for my vanity.

After reading the book you may ask, "why would you subject your horse to such things... everything you are doing is against the horses natural evolution of 55 million years." Well 55 million years ago, horses did not have a relationship with man. If you take the authors argument to its logical conclusion, it is inhumane for man to ride or have a relationship with a horse. (I know some of you feel that way, but that is probably a topic for another day.) My point is that you can take the "what is natural" argument to far. It is not natural for a horse to have a human on its back, or a bit in its mouth, or a halter on its head. If we should never blanket, shoe, or stall our horses than what gives us the right to ride them in the first place? Surely carrying around 150 to 200 pounds of excess weight is much worse than the afore mentioned sins.

It is exciting to hear that someone has embraced their horse with such fervor in such a short period of time. But I think he goes wrong when he begins telling the entire horse world that everything they know and have been doing for the last millennium is wrong. Especially considering his entire horse experience has been derived from books, DVDs, and 18 months of horse ownership. It is insulting and it is not intended to further the human/horse bond. It is only meant to chastise horse owners who do not subscribe to his brand of horse ownership.

The book may be entertaining to someone who is a novice in the horse field, but for those of us who have been around horses our entire life it rings hollow. I feel pretty confident that if my horse was allowed to rejoin its herd, he would return to me as well.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2008
This is a wonderful glimpse into The Soul of a Horse, and it has changed how I think about horses, their care, and relationships between man and animal. The book reads like an affable but intense conversation with someone whose experience and research has in no way dulled his infectious enthusiasm. It is easy to read and hard to forget.

Three separate perspectives braid themselves throughout the book: a wild herd of horses, a neophyte horse owner, and experienced voices of experts in their field. The three views create an ever evolving, ever building comprehension. The choices made in the book are not always the easy ones, but prove to be the right ones.

As I was reading, I came upon a part and thought, "Ah, here's the crux of what he's getting at." That happened on page 40, and then again on page 79, and then on page 92, and then 109, and 116, 119... on and on. There is a lot to think about, whether is applies to horses, animals, friends, family, or oneself. The lessons and perspectives offered in The Soul of a Horse are an inspirational and thought provoking gift to the world of horses, the world of mankind, and ourselves. I feel as though I have peeked into a mystery and found some comprehension.

If you love horses, it is an absolute must read. But if you have an on-going relationship with any animal, you will gain a lot from this book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2008
I love a book that makes me think, and Soul of a Horse did that and more. Told in a passionate, yet wonderfully easy, around the campfire voice, Joe Camp challenges his own perceptions and the perceptions of others as he seeks to learn what a horse needs, rather than what we think they need. His story not only deepened my understanding of horses and the impact of humans upon them, but offered metaphor upon metaphor for increasing awareness of ourselves in relationship to others. Part educational, part spiritual, this book has more than one important message...not the least being, that we are capable of doing better.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2008
Lately I have read a number of books that seek to explain and satisfy the human yen to connect physically, emotionally and even spiritually with the horse. And yet The Soul of a Horse is the only one I've come across that speaks with a totally resounding note of truth. Coincidentally (or not?) it's also the only one I've read that is written with the unflinching insight that a deep and satisfying connection with another individual - human or otherwise - requires us to set aside our own aspirations, expectations and needs in order to clearly understand those of the other.

The horse has largely lost its traditional place in human affairs as the ubiquitous beast of burden. But we still tend to value these generous and beautiful animals mainly for what they can do for us, whether it's feeding our egos through winning ribbons or races or providing therapeutic release from the stresses and strains of life.

The Soul of a Horse examines the biological, physiological and emotional needs of the modern domestic horse and how successfully these are met by widely used and accepted methods of husbandry, handling and training. A delightful blend of autobiography, critical analysis and storytelling, this book engages the reader intellectually and emotionally from start to finish. Joe Camp presents his `life lessons from the herd' with the same humble, gentle yet persuasive persistence we admire in the very best horse trainers.

A heartwarmingly affirmative read for the barefoot horse owner, this book is also a `must read' for any person who has ever owned and loved a horse.
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46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2008
A friend passed this book on to me saying "read it and let me know what you think" Well I think Joe Camp is extremely pompous to think he could write a book with his extremely limited experience with horses. Just because he wrote Benji doesn't mean he should write a book on horse ownership. A whole chapter on the "tie blocker"? Give me a break! I bought a tie blocker at least 4 years ago. I do use it occasionally on certain horses but only until they are trained to give to pressure. His real problem is his horses don't know how to give to pressure. He has put a band aid on a very dangerous problem. Sure I agree horses are much better off being in pastures able to move around but his "natural pasture" of 1 1/2 acres with 50 piles of hay spread around? Are you serious? That's like running from your kitchen to your bedroom and saying you worked out. Many people only have the option of stalls and to make them feel bad or inadequate is just wrong. I know a lot of situations where horses are turned out into some dinky pasture and never given any attention or care. I bet if you "asked" them they would love to change places with some of those poor stalled horses. Going shoeless when it can be accomplished is great but it doesn't always work for a variety of reasons. My horses usually never wear blankets but recently when I took one of my horses up to the mountains where there was a big temperature change from what he was use to, I used a blanket at night. Why because I cared about my horse and he needed it. I typically ride 3 to 4 hours a day, in the summer, moving cattle in the mountains of Montana. Riding 20 minutes around your barn is a long way from really riding. I have been around horses for 45 of my 50 years have a degree in Equestrian Studies and I would never try to educate someone the way Joe Camp does. If someone asks me a question or my opinion fine but I would never approach someone and shove it down their throat. I take clinics every chance I get because there is so much more I can learn. Maybe he should start giving clinics because obliviously most horse owners need his advice. Oh but let's not do any loping until we can keep our adrenaline in check. This book is either for non-horse people, rank beginners or people that have had their heads in the grain bucket the entire time they have owned a horse.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2008
I love this book. I couldn't stop reading it, so I stayed up way too late, but I finished the book--every word of it. It made me feel like a kid again, when I hid under the covers past my bedtime to read horse books--all the Walter Farley Black Stallion books, horse bios like Exterminator...this is a great book, written with compassion, and allowing the reader to live Joe's experiences. I am in awe of how Joe Camp has managed to compile the Natural Horse wisdom into such a nurturing and personal format. I'm sure that every reader will project him/herself into the situations that Joe describes with his horses. Anyone who has ever been with horses or who loves horses needs to read this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2008
This is truly a must read. Be prepared, once you begin you won't want to put it down!! Joe takes you on his journey into horsemanshp and its a journey you'll enjoy! He weaves a fictional story alongside his real life story. Even non-horse people will love the book. He learns why natural horsemanship is a better deal...both for you and your horse. His experiences are real and well described. He admits to being a new horseman but you'll find you will learn a few tricks from him. I absolutely love it that everything he does is with the horse's well being in mind. You won't find him glued to one particular trainer..but he does mention of few of them . Just a great read and one you'll want to keep on your bookshelf. I've read it twice and ordered several copies for gifts.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2008
Being one of the many women who rode as a kid and is finally coming back to it as an adult, this was just what I needed to help weed out all the conflicting traditional information. Like naturopathic medicine for people, Joe Camp's words just seem like simple, common sense. Thanks for teaching us to think like horses, not like people.
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