BOOKS: Out of the Saddle

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1999:

Out of the Saddle:
Native American Horsemanship
by GaWaNi Pony Boy
Photographs by Gabrielle Boiselle
Bowtie Press (c/o Fancy Publications,
3 Burroughs, Irvine, CA 92618),
1999. 96 pages, paperback. $17.95.

GaWaNi Pony Boy, whose Horse
Follow Closely became a best-seller despite
barely passing as a primer on horse training,
has issued a sequel, Out of the Saddle, best
described as more of the same. Most of the
photos are taken from Horse Follow Closely,
and his anecdotes are also essentially the
same. But Out of the Saddle is directed at
children––as Horse Follow Closely should
have been.

Very young children may find Pony
Boy’s Native American dress and war paint
entertaining, but probably won’t have an
inkling as to the deeper meaning of
“Relationship Training,” his twist on classical
horsemanship methods developed in
Europe a few hundred years ago. Older kids
will probably scoff at the costumes, but will
at least comprehend Pony Boy’s directive
about the importance of understanding the
equine nature, for without that understanding
there can be no harmony between horse and
rider. Here, Pony Boy does a superb job. But
his message may get lost in his gimmick.
Parents who may give this book to
children should be warned about Pony Boy’s
passion for bareback riding—which is not
good for horses—and his quasi-history of
Native Americans. Pony Boy presents bareback
riding as the Native American way of
riding. This is inaccurate. Native Americans
used saddles whenever they could get them.
Saddles made riding more efficient, especially
when riding at high speed during a hunt or
going to war. Bareback riding forces a rider
to sit in the wrong position. It also forces a
rider to grip tightly with the legs in order stay
on board. Together, these contribute to a
sore-backed horse.
Serious equestrians did not take
Horse Follow Closely seriously. Out of the
Saddlewill be similarly received. But some of
Pony Boy’s personal anecdotes might make
some good bedtime reading for children.
––Robin Duxbury
[Duxbury heads Project Equus,
POB 6989, Denver, CO 80206;

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