Looking for the perfect gift book for the horse enthusiast in your family? Let C&I recommend a few.
Our January 2023 issue entertainment “Hot List” was designed to help you pick shows to watch and books and music to give, share, or just consume yourself in the new year. We only have so many pages in our print edition, and lots of good stuff remained to be recommended. Here are six horse-related books we’re excited about.
Swords of Lightning: Green Beret Horse Soldiers and America’s Response to 9/11 by Mark Nutsch, Bob Pennington, and Jim DeFelice (Permuted Press). This first-person account tells the story of how a small band of Green Berets used horses and laser-guided bombs to overthrow the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11. The Green Berets—Special Forces ODA 595—became known in Hollywood as the Horse Soldiers. What they accomplished, and what has gone down as one of the greatest military victories in United States history, is the subject of the 2018 movie 12 Strong. This recent book goes into much deeper detail.
Milo’s Eyes by Lissa Bachner (Behler Publications). Written by the renowned award-winning blind equestrian whom the United States Equestrian Federation has called the country’s No. 1 disabled rider, this compelling read follows the love story between rider Lissa and her once-neglected and frightened horse, Milo. Their journey to becoming one of America’s most successful riding teams in the world of show jumping makes for inspiring reading.
American Dude Ranch by Lynn Downey (OU Press). From the author-historian who also gave us Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World, A Short History of Sonoma, Arizona’s Vulture Mine and Vulture City, and her award-winning debut novel, Dudes Rush In comes this fascinating new perspective on the time-honored buckaroo getaway, the American dude ranch, where riding and horses define the original Western vacation. It’s summed up nicely by the subtitle: A Touch of the Cowboy and the Thrill of the West.
Horses That Buck by Margot Kahn (OU Press). Volume 5 in the Western Legacies Series, this biography tells the story of champion rider and Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer “Cody” Bill Smith, who, when asked in an interview what he liked most about rodeo, replied “Horses that buck.” That equine enthusiasm would help Smith escape a miner’s life in Montana, take him to the national finals 13 times, and eventually lead him into business raising horses for his Circle 7 brand.
Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking). The Pulitzer Prize-winning author turns her historical-fiction prowess to the thrilling true story of a famous 19th-century champion racehorse and the important roles Black trainers and jockeys played in the pre-Civil War South. Time declared that Brooks had crafted “an exceptionally sensitive portrayal of an enslaved groom and his special bond” with the great Thoroughbred stallion Lexington.
Wild: The Legendary Horses of Sable Island by Drew Doggett (Drew Doggett Photography). This handsome photo book nine years in the making captures award-winning photographer Doggett’s 70 days among the wild horses of Sable Island. Visitors are welcome to the horses’ windswept crescent of sand off Nova Scotia in the North Atlantic only between June and October, and then only for the day. But Doggett takes you there in an extended photographic journey among some 500 horses of mysterious origin who rule “their isolated kingdom … writers of their own destiny and the only full-time occupants of this untamed land.”
Find more 2023 entertainment recommendations from the editors of C&I here.
(Photography: via Amazon listing for Drew Doggett's Wild.)