The Hearts of Horses|
(western) Martha trains ranch horses in Oregon during WW1
From the jacket:
In the winter of 1917, a big-boned young woman shows up at George Bliss's doorstep. She's looking for a job breaking horses, and he hires her on. Many of his regular hands are off fighting the war, and he glimpses, beneath her showy rodeo garb, a shy but strong-willed girl with a serious knowledge of horses.
So begins the irresistible tale of nineteen-year-old Martha Lessen, a female horse whisperer trying to make a go of it in a man's world. It was thought that the only way to break a horse was to buck the wild out of it, and broken ribs and tough falls just went with the job. But over several long, hard winter months, many of the townsfolk in this remote county of eastern Oregon witness Martha's way of talking in low, sweet tones to horses believed beyond repair—and getting miraculous, almost immediate results—and she thereby earns a place of respect in the community.
Along the way, Martha helps a family save their horses when their wagon slides into a ravine. She gentles a horse for a dying man—a last gift to his young son. She clashes with a hired hand who is abusing horses in unspeakable ways. Soon, despite her best efforts to remain aloof and detached, she comes to feel enveloped by a sense of community and family that she's never had before.
|The Hearts of Horses ...are torn, by EclecticHorseman on September 17, 2009|
|More than just historical fiction, this book is a work of literary fiction that can be read on more than a single level.|
The story itself is fresh and interesting--about how a young girl would go about starting horses in the period during WWI when most of the able bodied men were overseas. The training methods used and the philosophy of the protagonist is akin to horse whispering as opposed to bronc busting.
But one of the themes of the book is the changes that are brought to the world that used to rely on horses and are now increasingly moving toward gasoline engines. It's all about trade offs. Sure, the ambulance can get you to the hospital more quickly, but the doctors don't make house calls and the car can't find its way home while the doctor dozes off.
And as humans become kinder toward horses and are forced to treat them better, it becomes faster, cheaper and easier to use gasoline engines so there are fewer horses living in cooperation with humans.
The female protagonist also has trade offs to make, in deciding whether to get involved romantically and have children, change her manner of dress,and necessarily give up some of her freedom to do what she loves. Her heart is torn between doing what she loves and being a woman in the world of that time.
The hearts of horses are torn between freedom, living wild in the herd in lean circumstances, and working for humans and being cared for and fed (and sometimes abused.)
The book seems to strike the right balance in the trade offs that are required. It made me think of the trade offs that are going on today in society as well as our individual lives, and the inevitable loss of horses in our lives as we move toward the future.
|Slow and sweet, by ponydom on September 29, 2008|
|This is a lovely account of the life of a young woman out west during WWI. She wants a job training horses. She is gentle and thorough, and knows her own limitations. She finds herself in an Oregon ranching valley and she ends up at George Bliss' place. Bliss hooks her up with other ranchers in the valley, and she finds herself with a Circle of horses to train: each day, she rides a horse from one ranch to the next ranch in the circle, repeating the full circle each day, which gives each horse a chance to get ridden regularly. The horse owners shelter whichever horse is at their place that day.|
As she rides the circle, she gets to know the residents of the valley. In one family, a father is dying of cancer, and Martha helps by taking a hot lunch to him at noon from his home. She helps rescue a family with an overturned wagon perilously near a river. She meets a German family shunned because of the war. She meets a pair of older sisters who have never married and who still work their ranches, as Martha aims to do for her whole life. And, she meets a ranch hand with whom she finds a quiet rapport. She'd planned to move on after the season was done, but she finds community in this valley.
It's a nice story. There's a little romance here and there, but it is more about the relationship between two adults than hot, explicit passion. Martha is a solid young woman who loves horses and who does her best to do right by them, whatever that may be.
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| Historical/General Fiction
| Questing Fantasy
| Science Fiction
| Young Adult