A romantic exploration of horse ownership.
Poet and novelist Harris (Creative Writing/Univ. of Washington; Oh How Can I Keep On Singing?: Voices of Pioneer Women, 2003, etc.) examines the complexities of her passionate avocation of raising horses. The center of the narrative is her relationship with True Colors, the then-8-year-old blood bay mare Harris and her husband acquired in 1986 as the first step toward fulfilling the author’s childhood dream of breeding horses. Captivated at a young age by equine power and grace, Harris began riding and became adept enough as a young adult to compete in dressage. True Colors was to be the first broodmare brought to the couple’s farm at the foot of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, for the dual purpose of breeding and riding. But Harris soon found they got more and less than they bargained for: True Colors had been so traumatized by being caught in a fire that she was terrified of humans. Thus began the tense psychological dance between owner and horse, as Harris tried to solve the mystery of healing and training this massive animal. While the author quickly realized that her dreams of riding competitively with True Colors would never materialize, she began to recognize the horse’s independence, protectiveness and strength of character. In engrossing detail, Harris describes the physical challenges of horse rearing, from assisting in the birth and first steps of a foal creature to reckoning with the unbridled power of a testosterone-crazed stallion and dealing with the eccentricities of blacksmiths and veterinarians. However, the author never answers the basic question posed early on—what is the meaning of these great beasts in her life?
Animal lovers will enjoy the sharp scrutiny of the horse’s behavior but may wish for greater authorial introspection.