Monday, December 11, 2017

Horse Sense: review of RELAXED & FORWARD

Relationship Advice from Your Horse
Anna Blake
$14.95 (our price $11.96)

This essay collection is from the author's blog of the same name and is perfect for riders who are struggling to progress in their horsemanship, but I daresay it might be entertaining for non-horsepeople, too. Anna Blake writes with wit and unabashed passion about horses and their people. Common sense being quite uncommon, the obvious sometimes has to be worded in just the right way to drill into the human brain; Blake has a gift for bringing a somewhat hazy concept into sharp focus.

As with many books about animals, the subject of this one could be expanded to include all sorts of relationships: your spouse, your children, your dog. But horses hold unique places in our lives partly because as riders, we must trust that they will not injure us (unintentionally, of course), and that as caretakers, we must honor their trust in us that we will not cause them harm—emotionally or physically. This makes for a complicated and profound experience. And anyone who has never sat atop a horse and asked him or her to move forward at a pace and rhythm of their choice would do well to give it a shot just once. (And I don't mean by sitting on a trail horse at a local stable. Those horses just do their duty with boredom and probably a little disdain, getting through their day.)

It would be inaccurate to call this delightful, funny, insightful book instructional, although it has plenty of expert riding tips. It is also a memoir, and a finger wagger at those of us who at one time or another claim to know more about our horse than we do (or than they know of us):
If humans are the more evolved species (and the jury is out on that, but going with that assumption) then it is up to us to move beyond our more limited senses and evolve our language to meet the horse. More importantly, if we want to progress farther with our horses, we have to communicate even more eloquently, just getting louder doesn't work. 
Communication with your horse involves the ability to stop, listen, and actually hear what your horse is telling you, and then being able to convey your plan and direction concisely, gently, and confidently. It also requires a hunk of honest self-reflection and a large dose of humor. If you can't laugh at yourself, stay away from horses—and every other animal.

Anna Blake lives in Colorado on her Infinity Farm where she and her husband raise llamas, goats, dogs, cats, horses, and Edgar Rice Burro. Her other books are STABLE RELATION and BARN DANCE.


  1. Anna doesn't "raise" animals, she rescues them! Her writing is exquisite. I loved her other books, too.

  2. If you have a love of horses and a desire to bond with them on their terms, you cannot go wrong by reading Anna's books. Your horse will thank you.

  3. Looks amazing! I'd love to read this! I am reading a book called Devotion right now by Dobie Houson which is about the communication aspects between pets and owners which has been a fantastic read. for her info.