This is a rant, so if you are not so inclined, click on….

I went to the supermarket yesterday, fulfilling the usual Saturday chores. Briefly perusing the trashy novel section, my gaze snapped over to a book cover for “The Horse Boy: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son,” by Rupert Isaacson and published by Little, Brown and Company, no doubt available to coincide with Father’s Day.

There is a photograph of a man mounted on a big bay horse. He was holding a boy in front of him in the saddle. They were grinning and gazing up thankfully into the heavens like they had just won the lottery. No doubt the reader is supposed to believe their horse was in on the moment because he also had his head thrown back in open-mouthed joy. His eyes were closed.

Horses don’t do this.

I snatched the book from the shelf to take a closer look. A twisted wire bit was jammed against the back of that horse’s mouth so tightly you could see it cutting into the corner of its tender skin. That horse was not rejoicing with the two people on its back but screaming in silent agony, which is why the photoshop editor arranged to have its eyes closed, less we see the white-eyed terror and the reader be offended.

Ironically enough, the book is about a father’s quest to heal his son of a chronic affliction and the healing presence of horses. I confess I have not read it, nor have plans to support a publishing company that exploits the animals that are the heroes of the book.

I’m done. Thank you for reading this far.

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11 Responses to Ranting

  1. Oh, this makes me sad!

  2. I've heard about this book but haven't seen the cover. I'm always a little suspect of these sorts of things. It always strikes me as a way to make some money with perhaps a movie deal in the offing.The book sells with just a little bit of bull to pull in people. The stories always seems to be a miracle involving children and animals.
    Now I'm sure this man and his child did find something they were looking for and it involved a miracle horse, but my question is always: why not be happy with that, why write a book about it?

  3. Maria says:

    I saw that right off from the little pic before I even read your post. Can't tell the bit, but it looks to be pulled incredibly tight on it's mouth. I don't like bits anyway, I understand if you are doing finess riding & want that communication with the slightest touch but I only trail ride & only use hackamores (mine & my husbands preference – to each his own). My guys do great, the one horse I raised has never had a bit in his mouth & the new old guy I adopted was so happy when I switched him to one.
    (We use mild hackamores, I know some of them can be harsh as well.)

  4. jacksonsgrrl says:

    The book was incredible…

  5. jacksonsgrrl says:

    The book was incredible…

  6. Kim says:

    Really? Was it that important to the photo that the horse posed that way? Why not a cute little flehmen face?? Yes, I agree with you, Di. BTW, I recently read the beautiful book “Chosen by a Horse”. It was lovely but a BIG tearjerker. If you get your hands on it, keep a box of tissues near and prepare to be destroyed for the rest of the day…


  7. jacksonsgrrl says:

    Ok. Just gonna play devil's advocate here, no offense intended. I have read the book. I agree about the bit, but his hands aren't pulling back on the reins…and this is a horse ridden in Outer Mongolia–not one of his own horses. I have no idea how the Mongolians ride. It was worth the read. Especially since I work at an Equitherapy Facility and see first hand the value of this work. And why not make money from your story? It's the American way, and I will tell you, if I had something to write about and the ability to do it, I sure would!!! I really want that ranch someday!! 🙂
    I did cringe at the no helmet, letting the kid travel through Mongolia and ride in Crocs, I will admit. But, I would honestly give the book (or Sundance film from footage along the way) a chance and perhaps you may enjoy it. Or not. 🙂

  8. AnnL says:

    Oh, gawd, that's horrible. I hate seeing things like this and I hate that nothing can be done about it, other than spread the word and not give them my money.

  9. Janet Roper says:

    Are you ranting or educating people? I vote for the latter. Thank you for this post.

  10. I had to enlarge the photo to get a better look. The father isn't holding the reins, but that bit is scary looking and appears to be tight across the horses mouth even when the reins are loose. It's Mongolia, so who knows what they use there, although horses are revered by their culture in spiritual ways. And yes, there's no helmet or boots and someone is probably going to make a lot of money from it. On the other hand, the book supposedly does send a message that horses can offer people, especially those who are difficult to reach and have autism, a miraculous door to communication with the rest of the world- which elevates the horse from just a creature to be used for sport or work. More people will discover the wisdom and spirituality of the horse through the popularity of this book. Life is full of ambiguities, isn't it? Keep on ranting- it's important.

  11. I had to enlarge that photo to see it more closely. You're right that the bit looks painful and scary. What's weird is that the father isn't even holding the reins in either hand. So why is the bit so tight on a totally loose rein? It might be a typical Mongolian bit but since these are people whose culture reveres the spiritual nature of the horse, you'd expect them not to want to inflict pain on them. And yes, there's no helmet or boots for the kid and the dad. On the other hand, the book introduces the idea that horses offer some valid, serious doors of communication with people who have been shut off from others and have autism. Being so popular, it opens the eyes of people who don't know this and encourages them to discover that horses are not just creatures to be used for sport or work. The world is full of ambiguities, isn't it? Keep on ranting – it's important.

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