BOOKS: Chosen By A Horse: How a broken horse fixed a broken heart
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2007:
Chosen By A Horse:
How a broken horse fixed a broken heart
by Susan Richards
(c/o Harcourt Inc., 15 E. 26th St., New York, NY 10010), 2007.
248 pages, paperback. $13.00.
Never before interested in adopting sick or injured animals,
Susan surprised herself by responding to an appeal for help from her
Having lost her mother at a very early age, moving from one
unhappy relative to yet another one during her childhood, and having
then endured an abusive marriage, Susan was too concerned with her
own problems to take care of sick or abused animals.
The SPCA had confiscated 40 horses, all starving and in poor
health. Among them was Lay Me Down, an ex-racing mare who, after a
few defeats, had been used for breeding. Susan chose to adopt her,
along with her frisky foal, for no better reason than that she was
the only horse willing to walk up the ramp and go into the trailer
for Susan, with her foal at her side.
Desperately thin, and drooping from pneumonia, Lay Me Down
was a shadow of her past beauty. But right away she began teaching
Susan some lessons in life.
“Unlike me, Lay Me Down seemed to feel no rancor. In spite
of everything, she was open and trusting of people, qualities I
decidedly lacked. It was her capacity to engage that drew me to her,
that made me aware of what was possible for me if I had her capacity
to–to what? Forgive? Forget? Live in the moment? What exactly
was it that enabled an abused animal, for lack of a better word, to
Lay Me Down settles down well on Susan’s farm, and from the
start, showed more affection toward Susan than any of her other
three horses, whom she had kept for many years. All went well for a
Then one day, Allie, “my best friend and horsewoman
extraordinaire,” visited Susan and inspected Lay Me Down closely,
before advising Susan to get a veterinarian to check the horse’s eye.
The vet discovered an inoperable tumor. In enduring the
heartbreaking ordeal of treatment and death, Susan also dealt with
her own dark memories. –Beverley Pervan