Scanlan (Riding High, not reviewed, etc.) asks, just what is horse fever, and why are so many held in its grip? In this...


WILD ABOUT HORSES: Our Timeless Passion for the Horse

Scanlan (Riding High, not reviewed, etc.) asks, just what is horse fever, and why are so many held in its grip? In this ranging and light-footed history, he comes as close to an answer as anyone is likely to do. The answer, of course, is that there is no one answer. Horses are, and have been, many things: farm laborers and beasts of burden, suppliers of food (flesh) and warmth (dung). Their speed delivered the mail, their majesty graces the walls of Lascaux. In oral traditions and ancient mythologies their presence looms large, and Paleolithic folk probably rode them over the chilly grasslands and definitely marked sacred sites with horses' bones. Scanlan covers all this, and also those horses that made the greatest dent in human history and consciousness, from the great war horses (including the Trojan horse) to the stars of stage, page, track, and screen. He enters the heads and barns of horse people and tries to take a fix on the nature of their connection to Equus. He does an excellent job of renewing the dignity of ""horse whisperers"" after their Hollywood treatment, tracing the lineage of horse ""gentlers"" (as they would rather be called--and they work a lot more with eye contact and body angles than soft murmurings) from Xenophon's sage little treatise The Art of Horsemanship (300 B.C.) to the contemporary ministerings of Monty Roberts, Tom Dorrance, and others. Scanlan, a three-time National Magazine Award winner, knows how to gently poke fun at our horsy obsessions and also how to tease the horse manure from the many wonderful stories of horse sense. The simple fact that horses have intruded upon our imaginations to such a vast extent suggests that our bond with the beast is more than merely practical, and Scanlan is an ideal guide to that secret world of connectedness, with its crazy and sublime turnings.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998


Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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