Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Book Review (sort of)

Have any of you read The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov?  I'm reading it right now because a number of people over the past seven or eight years have recommended it to me.  I'm about a third of the way through.  It's taken me months to get this far.

I can read a book in a day if it grabs me. 
This hasn't.
But I can't seem to totally ignore it and walk away either. 

For those of you who haven't read it, this is what I've experienced so far.  The author has horses and uses them for psychological healing therapy.  I get that.  I'm a big believer in horses as therapy for the mind and the body.  I suppose that is the part that keeps me interested.  But she is also a bit "out there" for me.  She talks about a mystical relationship, communication on their wave length (feeling the prey kick-in-the-stomach reaction to a bicycle going by on the road and startling the herd), and being visited/haunted by horse spirits. 

Um, I'm having trouble with that part.

But, also I'm finding some "ah-ha!" moments.  For instance, she talks about the horse being a mirror of our emotion.  We've all heard that before and we all believe it.  But, the way she described the effect of a fearful person on a calm horse vs. one with an abusive past was interesting.  One took care of the human, the other looked to the human for security and took off when it couldn't be delivered.

This led me to think about Jackson (of course) and his fearful behavior at shows.  He certainly has no abuse in his past.  I know the woman who bought him as a yearling and started him.  He has only known love, compassion and kindness.  I've steadfastly ruled out that it could be me because I'm not afraid at shows.  I was a competitive swimmer for years, including college, and the rush of competition gave me an edge.  I thrived on pressure.  I'm also competitive to a fault (with myself - I always viewed swimming as an individual sport: me against the clock). 

But maybe, just maybe, all that focus was about me and not about us.  Maybe I emotionally left Jackson alone.  I was busy concentrating on the performance and not on my horse.  Kate is starting a series of posts about a horse being soft on the inside.  After reading today's post, I think she and I are thinking about the same thing.  I can't expect Jackson to be soft if I am hard.  I can't expect him to be confident if I've deserted him.

Have any of you read the book?  What did you think?  My impression is that the author is a bit of a crackpot with moments of brilliance.  So I'll keep slogging through.


  1. I love your line "a bit of a crackpot with moments of brilliance" :)
    I haven't read the book, but it sounds intrigueing. I think from reading your blog that you would be 'with' Jackson at shows, although when focussing on a test it takes all concentration... Interesting.

  2. I read the book years ago and it took me forever. My experience of the book was about like yours too. There was some stuff that made me stop and think and then a whole lot of huh?


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