BOOKS Falling for Eli: How I lost heart, then gained hope through the love of a singular horse
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2012:
Falling for Eli:
How I lost heart, then gained hope through the love of a singular horse
by Nancy Shulins
DaCapo Lifelong Books (11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142), 2012. 272 pages, paperback. $15.99.
Former Associated Press correspondent Nancy Shulins shares an uplifting memoir in Falling for Eli: How I lost heart, then gained hope through the love of a singular horse. Married to a great guy named Mark, Shulins wanted to start a family, but despite a long series of expensive fertility treatments, medical issues prevented her from becoming pregnant. Seeing friends and family doting on their children saddened her. Shulins even stopped walking her dog Jack in the park to avoid the “fertile Myrtles” women who had recently given birth. Then Mark introduced her to friends nearby who kept horses.
Invited to help with barn chores, Shulins quickly bonded with a horse named Frank. She brushed him, rode him, and fed him carrots. But after several month Frank developed laminitis, a disease with many suspected causes that affects the coffin bone in the horse’s feet. While most laminitis can be treated, the mortality rate for some variant forms runs as high as 50%. Frank died, returning Shulins to despair.
About a year later Shulins met another horse, Eli, who picked up her spirits.
“And now, here he is, with his big sweaty head on my shoulder, looking to me to make it all better. What could be better than that?” she asks.
But Shulins is not living happily ever after. As Shulins learned about horses and their care, she discovered the nagging horse overpopulation problem.
Upward of 170,000 horses lose their homes each year, many of them sold to slaughter. Although the toll is just a fraction of the millions of dogs and cats who end up in shelters, Shulins is crushed by horse neglect, abuse, and abandonment. The treatment of horses as commodities is at odds with her understanding of horses as companions.
Concludes Shulins, “I’ve already cobbled together a list of the worldly possessions I’d sell before parting with Eli, right up to and including my house.”
–Debra J. White