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Chosen by a Horse: a memoir

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Proof that love for another animal can alone make one human and humane: wit and crushing sadness chasing each other all across the page; intelligence and bravery and perfect literary pitch... Damn great."--Melissa Holbrook Pierson, author of "Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals; Women, a Passion" "A bold and sensitive memoir of what it means to open one's heart to love Proof that love for another animal can alone make one human and humane: wit and crushing sadness chasing each other all across the page; intelligence and bravery and perfect literary pitch... Damn great."--Melissa Holbrook Pierson, author of "Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals; Women, a Passion" "A bold and sensitive memoir of what it means to open one's heart to love... A magnificent read."--Adele von Rust McCormick, Ph.D and Marlena Deborah McCormick, PhD, authors of "Horses and the Mystical Path; Horse Sense and the Human Heart" "A triumph for all spirits."--Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of "A Place in the Country" "Should rank with the great animal stories."--Ann Arensberg, author of "Incubus" "Two kindred spirits find each other in this beautifully written memoir about the human-animal bond."--Temple Grandin, author of "Animals in Translation" When she agrees to take on the care of one of the abused horses just rescued by the local SPCA, a new chapter opens in Susan Richards's difficult life. She lost her mother at the age of five and was raised by uncaring relatives; married unhappily and divorced; and suffered from alcoholism. While Susan is trying to capture the horse assigned to her, Lay Me Down, a skeletal mare, walks into Susan's horse trailer of her own volition. Susan already owns one mare and two geldings--the diva-like Georgia, boyish Tempo and hopelessly romantic Hotshot--but it is with Lay Me Down that she forges a special, healing relationship that alters her life. Poignant and evocative, this is a book for anyone who has ever loved a horse, and for everyone who has ever lost a loved one. "From the Hardcover edition.


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Proof that love for another animal can alone make one human and humane: wit and crushing sadness chasing each other all across the page; intelligence and bravery and perfect literary pitch... Damn great."--Melissa Holbrook Pierson, author of "Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals; Women, a Passion" "A bold and sensitive memoir of what it means to open one's heart to love Proof that love for another animal can alone make one human and humane: wit and crushing sadness chasing each other all across the page; intelligence and bravery and perfect literary pitch... Damn great."--Melissa Holbrook Pierson, author of "Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals; Women, a Passion" "A bold and sensitive memoir of what it means to open one's heart to love... A magnificent read."--Adele von Rust McCormick, Ph.D and Marlena Deborah McCormick, PhD, authors of "Horses and the Mystical Path; Horse Sense and the Human Heart" "A triumph for all spirits."--Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of "A Place in the Country" "Should rank with the great animal stories."--Ann Arensberg, author of "Incubus" "Two kindred spirits find each other in this beautifully written memoir about the human-animal bond."--Temple Grandin, author of "Animals in Translation" When she agrees to take on the care of one of the abused horses just rescued by the local SPCA, a new chapter opens in Susan Richards's difficult life. She lost her mother at the age of five and was raised by uncaring relatives; married unhappily and divorced; and suffered from alcoholism. While Susan is trying to capture the horse assigned to her, Lay Me Down, a skeletal mare, walks into Susan's horse trailer of her own volition. Susan already owns one mare and two geldings--the diva-like Georgia, boyish Tempo and hopelessly romantic Hotshot--but it is with Lay Me Down that she forges a special, healing relationship that alters her life. Poignant and evocative, this is a book for anyone who has ever loved a horse, and for everyone who has ever lost a loved one. "From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Chosen by a Horse: a memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    I cried. Not going to lie, if my mom hadn't been in the same room as me, I probably would have been bawling with a baby. Now I want to say why (it could have been happy crying, it could have been sad crying, it could have been both) so, you are officially warned that there are probably going to be spoilers contained in this review... Chosen by a Horse is an amazing novel whether or not you're a horse or animal lover. It may touch those of us who have loved and owned animals a little more, but don I cried. Not going to lie, if my mom hadn't been in the same room as me, I probably would have been bawling with a baby. Now I want to say why (it could have been happy crying, it could have been sad crying, it could have been both) so, you are officially warned that there are probably going to be spoilers contained in this review... Chosen by a Horse is an amazing novel whether or not you're a horse or animal lover. It may touch those of us who have loved and owned animals a little more, but don't let that stop you non-animal people. Richards unique, witty and warm writing style immediately draws you in and makes you feel like you're a close friend and she's telling you a quick anecdote from her own life. In reality it's a long story, but it will suck you in and before you know it, your at the last page hoping Susan isn't done. I was raised around horses, and my aunt, mother, and father all are horse lovers as well so this book really hit home for me. If you check my writing section there's a more indepth story about my experience with horses if you want to check that out and maybe share your own experiences. Richards's as a smart way of writing that doesn't try and show off any clever literary turns that some writer's try and do. It makes you like her even more and draws you into her story even more. She never asks you to pity her, nor does she ever want you to like her. By all means there are things she talks about doing that should make you hate her or just plain not really care about her. In the end though you're crying for her loss of Lay Me Down, but smiling at the fact Lay Me Down has brought her something she never thought she would ever had. Through her beautiful words Richards's story flows smoothly and if you're as drawn in as I was you'll finish it within hours if not a day. This is a great and worthwhile book, horse lover, animal lover or not. It's a story about love and learning. I'd love to know what you think...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book reminded me a lot of "Nickel and Dimed" - it's a great premise that the author ruins with her incessent whining about her own life. This isn't a book about a horse or even a book about how " a broken horse fixed a broken heart." The author had already battled her alcoholism and left her abusive husband well before Lay Me Down came into her life. The horse part of this book is pretty thin - Richards gets Lay Me Down, Lay Me Down hangs out in a field for a while, gets cancer, and then di This book reminded me a lot of "Nickel and Dimed" - it's a great premise that the author ruins with her incessent whining about her own life. This isn't a book about a horse or even a book about how " a broken horse fixed a broken heart." The author had already battled her alcoholism and left her abusive husband well before Lay Me Down came into her life. The horse part of this book is pretty thin - Richards gets Lay Me Down, Lay Me Down hangs out in a field for a while, gets cancer, and then dies. There's really no story there. In betweeen, we are subjected to snippets from the author's life, the most annoying of which is how she goes on a blind date with a guy, is really turned off by the guy, BUT KEEPS SEEING HIM DESPITE NOT BEING INTERESTED to the point the guy asks her to move in with him - which she doesn't answer because she's so ambivalent about him - and then goes BALLASTIC when she finds out he starts dating someone else!!! She doesn't even want him but marches right over to his place to demand an explanation of how he could treat her this way. That is a special brand of crazy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    P. Kirby

    Is it just me, or are Friesians now the only horses who are allowed in movies or to grace book covers? The titular horse in Chosen by a Horse is a Standardbred. The horse on the cover, though lovely with its long mane and forelock, is a Friesian. (Or maybe a very dark Andalusian, it's hard to tell.) I guess Standardbreds aren't showy enough for book covers. Susan Richards's writing is engaging and her descriptions of all things horsey, is dead on. But this memoir, nevertheless, falls short. First, Is it just me, or are Friesians now the only horses who are allowed in movies or to grace book covers? The titular horse in Chosen by a Horse is a Standardbred. The horse on the cover, though lovely with its long mane and forelock, is a Friesian. (Or maybe a very dark Andalusian, it's hard to tell.) I guess Standardbreds aren't showy enough for book covers. Susan Richards's writing is engaging and her descriptions of all things horsey, is dead on. But this memoir, nevertheless, falls short. First, although this is supposed to be a kind of transformational story--woman finds her lost humanity and the capacity to love via one extraordinary horse--there is little character development. One might expect, for instance, that Richards's decision to adopt Lay Me Down, an elderly broodmare with a foal at her side, would be fraught with reluctance. Instead, Richards jumps right in, doing everything she can to nurse her abused charge back to life. Richards, by the way, is a victim of abuse herself, and I guess the reader is supposed to see author's situation mirrored by the horse's. Or something. To her credit, Richards is clearly an animal lover and takes good care of Lay Me Down and all her horses. I've seen some reviewers complain that Richards is too self-involved and that the story is too much about her angst. I'd argue the opposite. Richards never really tells the reader how she was abused. She parcels out a few details, but is otherwise almost dismissive of the abuse. Her almost flippant attitude lessens this reader's sympathy. About midway through the story, Richards starts to date a man, her first relationship in years. But readers expecting any kind of growth via this relationship will be disappointed. Hank is a self-involved twit and Richards know this. She keeps dating him because she likes the attention. Also, because when she tells her "friends" that Hank isn't right for her, they dismiss her concerns and tell her to give him another chance. Some friends. The relationship ends, not through any effort on Richards's part, but rather when Hank cheats on her. Basically, Richards starts and ends the memoir pretty much the same person. The real flaw, however, is that she chose the wrong equine protagonist. Lay Me Down is sweet. And "sweet" has its allure, especially when dealing with a 1200-pound animal who has the equivalent of hammers on the ends of its feet. But one might argue that her nature is the result of old age; she's an animal who has seen it all and just doesn't have the energy to give a shit. Because of her tractable nature, Lay Me Down never really challenges Richards. I'd argue that the real equine hero should have been Richards's obstinate, headstrong Morgan mare, Georgia. It was with Georgia that Richards, years before, battled her darkest demon, alcoholism. This should have been the story of Richards and Georgia.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Richards owned three horses when she responded to a request by her local SPCA to foster an abandoned, abused mare. The abused mare had arthritis in her front legs and rear hocks. She had been half starved and had many health problems. But, surprisingly, the mare had an affable temperament. The horse was named Lay Me Down. She got along with Richards’ other horses. The memoir is well written and takes the reader on an emotional trip. The author had a lot of personal baggage, but it is the relation Richards owned three horses when she responded to a request by her local SPCA to foster an abandoned, abused mare. The abused mare had arthritis in her front legs and rear hocks. She had been half starved and had many health problems. But, surprisingly, the mare had an affable temperament. The horse was named Lay Me Down. She got along with Richards’ other horses. The memoir is well written and takes the reader on an emotional trip. The author had a lot of personal baggage, but it is the relationship with the mare that makes this a special story. If you love horses, you should read this book. Just one note of disappointment. This note is aimed at the publisher or whoever was responsible for the cover of the book. The horse in the story is an American Standardbred, but the horse on the cover appears to be a Friesian. The people that will be interested in reading this type of book will know horse breeds. For us horse lovers, this is an annoying type of error. Lorna Raver does an excellent job narrating the book. Raver is an actress and multi-award winning audiobook narrator.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Sims

    Chosen by a Horse Susan Richards This book is one of my favorite forms of literature: a memoir. A well-written memoir is better than any novel, and I say that as a writer of novels. From the back cover: ” …Lay Me Down, a former racehorse with a foal close on her heels walked right up that ramp (of the waiting trailer) and into Susan’s life.” The author has three other horses and they are so individualistic and personable that they are real characters in this true drama without descending into Disn Chosen by a Horse Susan Richards This book is one of my favorite forms of literature: a memoir. A well-written memoir is better than any novel, and I say that as a writer of novels. From the back cover: ” …Lay Me Down, a former racehorse with a foal close on her heels walked right up that ramp (of the waiting trailer) and into Susan’s life.” The author has three other horses and they are so individualistic and personable that they are real characters in this true drama without descending into Disney cuteness. They don’t dance and sing. They are short-tempered, possessive, jealous, sweet, loving, and just about everything else. But Lay Me Down in the focus. Lay Me Down had been abused and starved, and had every reason to be violent and hate people. Instead Susan, a woman who had been as damaged by life and some of the people in it, found a fellow creature with a gentle nature and an open heart. This is the story of a magical summer, a few all-too-brief months of pure love between a damaged human and a damaged horse. It ends as magical summers far too often do in real life, with tears and loss. I was sobbing, with tears falling onto the pages as I finished the book. I don’t think I will ever forget this simple, incredibly moving story and I wish I could thank Ms. Richards for writing it. I think it would make a wonderful film, the kind they just don’t make anymore. Recommended to anyone with a heart.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Perri

    I'm in animal lover with special passion for canines, but must admit, never understood the horse love. Richards has schooled me. Now I know horses have rich and varied personalities and can develop deep bonds with each other and their people. Richards shares her horrid childhood and personal defects with frank openness. She adopts an abused horse and its grace and forgiveness are an inspiration to her and to us. I loved this story and feel like I've lost touch with a friend-I want to know what h I'm in animal lover with special passion for canines, but must admit, never understood the horse love. Richards has schooled me. Now I know horses have rich and varied personalities and can develop deep bonds with each other and their people. Richards shares her horrid childhood and personal defects with frank openness. She adopts an abused horse and its grace and forgiveness are an inspiration to her and to us. I loved this story and feel like I've lost touch with a friend-I want to know what happens next. Read when you're in the mood to be touched. Keep a tissue box handy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    THIS BOOK IS SO BEAUTIFULLY SAD. I CAN RELATE TO THE AUTHOR ON SO MANY LEVELS IT'S ALMOST SCARY. IT'S A STORY ABOUT A HORSE, HORSES AND ONE WOMAN'S LIFE IN THIS WORLD. I RECOMMEND THIS TO ANY ANIMAL LOVER. IF I COULD WRITE ELOQUENT REVIEWS I WOULD DO THAT HERE AND ON MANY BOOKS. HAPPY READING! THIS BOOK IS SO BEAUTIFULLY SAD. I CAN RELATE TO THE AUTHOR ON SO MANY LEVELS IT'S ALMOST SCARY. IT'S A STORY ABOUT A HORSE, HORSES AND ONE WOMAN'S LIFE IN THIS WORLD. I RECOMMEND THIS TO ANY ANIMAL LOVER. IF I COULD WRITE ELOQUENT REVIEWS I WOULD DO THAT HERE AND ON MANY BOOKS. HAPPY READING!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book is about survival. Surviving child abuse. Surviving addiction. Surviving loss. About finding validation in another's eyes. For an abused horse, who finally finds safety and for an adult woman, who finally finds value in herself. It is a book about love. This book is about survival. Surviving child abuse. Surviving addiction. Surviving loss. About finding validation in another's eyes. For an abused horse, who finally finds safety and for an adult woman, who finally finds value in herself. It is a book about love.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    I laughed with the author and cried for her pain and loss.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Saar The Book owl

    Well, my initial thought about the book didn't changed at all. Horses, for me, are still animals who have a 6th sense and I'm blessed to have one in my life. I can't imagine how he has changed me and how he is the extention of my life. It's proven more than once that horses can heal people if we are standing open for it. Old review: Horses...once you get bitten by the 'horse -virus', you can't imagine them out of your life. This book touched me by the heart and I'm dissapointed for waiting so lon Well, my initial thought about the book didn't changed at all. Horses, for me, are still animals who have a 6th sense and I'm blessed to have one in my life. I can't imagine how he has changed me and how he is the extention of my life. It's proven more than once that horses can heal people if we are standing open for it. Old review: Horses...once you get bitten by the 'horse -virus', you can't imagine them out of your life. This book touched me by the heart and I'm dissapointed for waiting so long to read it. It's proven again that these fantastic creatures have the power to change your life, most of the time without knowing that of yourself that they are doing it. This book is about the author herself, Susan, who learns to deal with her grieve of loosing her mother, of being never wanted and of knowing no love as a child and as an adult, through a beautiful horse, named Lay Me Down. At one point, when the mare gets sick, there comes the unavoidable question: 'When is it enough? When is it time to end the suffering?' At one moment, Susan finds the courage to give Lay Me Down the goodbye that she so deserves. It is very moving how Susan accept her long during sadness of things that happened in the past and how she overcomes it. One of her horses, Hotshot, who had a very close connection with Lay Me Down, reacts to the death of his mare as Susan reacted as a 5 - year old child on the death of her mother. Together they say their goodbye's to the beautiful mare and finds the courage to go on. Some horses come into your life and they change you. That is what Lay Me Down did for Susan. That is what my own horse has done with me. I only hope that, one day, I'll find the strenght like Susan did, to say goodbye to my fourlegged best friend.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Producervan in Cornville, AZ from New Orleans & L.A.

    Chosen by a Horse, A Memoir by Susan Richards. Hardcover edition. ©2006. Published by SoHo. 248 pages. Nonfiction. 4 Stars. A memoir of a woman who adopts a gentle, lame horse named Lay Me Down whose early life of abuse and loss mirrors her own. The love of this horse breaks down emotional barriers, bringing her to the heart of what is important. Highly recommend.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth☮

    I have never owned a horse and I have only rode on one a handful of times in my life, but I love them. Not a school girl infatuation love, just a heart and soul kind of love. The cover appealed to me so I added this to my TBR and it remained for years until I found a copy at Goodwill. This is a memoir of Richards' divorce and the ongoing grief she feels at the loss of her mother at age five. She is shuffled between relatives that don't show much love or compassion to her. So when Richards finds I have never owned a horse and I have only rode on one a handful of times in my life, but I love them. Not a school girl infatuation love, just a heart and soul kind of love. The cover appealed to me so I added this to my TBR and it remained for years until I found a copy at Goodwill. This is a memoir of Richards' divorce and the ongoing grief she feels at the loss of her mother at age five. She is shuffled between relatives that don't show much love or compassion to her. So when Richards finds herself newly divorced and on her own, she impulsively takes in a horse that has been abused by its owner. That horse is Lay Me Down. The journey Richards takes with her is touching and heart warming, but the writing here doesn't evoke the emotions shared between horse and human. This is a quick read and I am glad I finally got to it, but I felt it missed something for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Truly amazing book!The beginning, middle , and ending was all very precise, exact and if you are a horse lover it is a touching book! I cried before the book ended, the book is a memoir of the author,Susan Richards, so the feelings were not made up and knowing that someone actually felt this love and pain is so amazing. It makes it seem so real, and honestly this book may not look good but, if you have an interest in horses, you will love this book. It starts off slow but, there is a part in the Truly amazing book!The beginning, middle , and ending was all very precise, exact and if you are a horse lover it is a touching book! I cried before the book ended, the book is a memoir of the author,Susan Richards, so the feelings were not made up and knowing that someone actually felt this love and pain is so amazing. It makes it seem so real, and honestly this book may not look good but, if you have an interest in horses, you will love this book. It starts off slow but, there is a part in the book where it just clicks and you can't stop reading it until you finish. I recommend this book for all horse owners, horse lovers, horse riders, or any one who is truly obsessed with horses, or have a real connection with a special horse.AMAZING BOOK!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robin Lee Hatcher

    This memoir tugs at the heart. While more about the author than the rescued horse (I expected it to be the other way around), I'm very glad I read it. This memoir tugs at the heart. While more about the author than the rescued horse (I expected it to be the other way around), I'm very glad I read it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    What a great read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The journey that the author takes in "Chosen By A Horse" is at times filled with humor, happiness, pain and sadness. Anyone that has ever experienced the unspoken bond between an animal and human will appreciate the beauty that this memoir encapsulates. It is difficult to understand how an animal experiences joy and grief and the other emotions. Emotions are usually attributed to humans, but this memoir helps with the awareness that all animals with a brain are fully capable of having them. Anoth The journey that the author takes in "Chosen By A Horse" is at times filled with humor, happiness, pain and sadness. Anyone that has ever experienced the unspoken bond between an animal and human will appreciate the beauty that this memoir encapsulates. It is difficult to understand how an animal experiences joy and grief and the other emotions. Emotions are usually attributed to humans, but this memoir helps with the awareness that all animals with a brain are fully capable of having them. Another quality present within the memoir is the language and voice and tone of the author. It does not take long to become accustomed to it. Listening to the audio book version, it was difficult to remember that the narrator did not write this book. The narrator suited the voice that I felt the author was speaking with. As a writer I was able to appreciate the humor and profundity throughout various points in the memoir. I felt as if I knew the character of the horse Lay Me Down. -------- From this point on, I will get into the details of what happens in the memoir, so this is the spoiler alert for those who have not yet read the book. -------- I find it fitting that the horse's name was Lay Me Down, in a sad way it describes the final moments of her life. This is not to say that it describes the fullness of her life, because she was a loving and grateful horse. The book talks about whether or not animals show gratitude and whether they are capable of understanding that they have been rescued, as Lay Me Down was. I think it's difficult to answer this question, much in the same way as it is to understand how animals experience emotions. I believe, as the memoir shows, animals live in the moment and perhaps have no recollection of what their life used to be like--that is to say they do not contemplate the past. I think this provides an important lesson to us, although it's important to remember what has happened to you in the past, it can be difficult to move beyond a difficult time in our life. Susan Richards learned from Lay Me Down the lesson of not being afraid of the future, to learn to be comfortable with the person you are and want to be. Animals, when they do not have to worry about surviving, are capable of enjoying the sunshine and not having a care what happens tomorrow. I think humans have a better grasp at death and what it means to be without life, but we do not know what it feels like to die. We can understand that we become the earth, but we do not have a better understanding of what happens after. Because animals, at least horses, live in the moment they are not worried about what it feels like to die. It is true that animals have survival instincts, but this is different than fearing death. Perhaps I will forget to not be afraid of what happens after life and death, but this book has taught me that it's important to learn from your mistakes. It has taught me that it is more important to live your life with your survival in mind, but to not be consumed by what happens after life. "Chosen by a Horse" is about the journey many of us have with an animal and how it is full of moments of learning and joy and pain. It is truly transformative to have an animal in one's life; they are honest and patient (except perhaps for Georgia), they do not get angry--unless they are taught anger, they provide people with tremendous joy. For these reasons and many others, we have fallen in love with our animals and companions and this memoir is a tribute to what it means to be touched by an animal or as the title suggests, chosen by a horse.

  17. 4 out of 5

    M—

    God, I had wanted this to be a DNF, but I forced myself to skim to the end: a sad result for a book I had quite anticipated reading. I loved the idea behind the plot, but whole thing took the tone of a new-agey feel-good tearjerker (with horses!), and such a thing does not mesh well with me. Quite frankly, I hated this author. I didn't like how she acted, or how she behaved, how she seemed compelled to whine about every aspect of her life, or her little awe-shucks-it's-cute insinuations while rui God, I had wanted this to be a DNF, but I forced myself to skim to the end: a sad result for a book I had quite anticipated reading. I loved the idea behind the plot, but whole thing took the tone of a new-agey feel-good tearjerker (with horses!), and such a thing does not mesh well with me. Quite frankly, I hated this author. I didn't like how she acted, or how she behaved, how she seemed compelled to whine about every aspect of her life, or her little awe-shucks-it's-cute insinuations while ruinously spoiling and coddling her horses. I'm damned doubtful of the legal validity of the adoption/unadoption of the Standardbred foal, which had been handwaved in narrative by dint of a single brief line; and I stopped trusting the narrator on something like page 20, when the narrator's best friend, a massage therapist who totes knows enough to be a doctor if she wanted to but also knows so much about horses that vets come to ask her for advice, was introduced as once having spotted a pedophile through reading his aura. And I could not believe (view spoiler)[she kept her horse suffering for the length that she did before finally consenting to have her humanely euthanized. (hide spoiler)] I was a passionate equestrian as a child and teen. The horse aspect of this story alone kept me reading, and the horse aspect made me want to beat my head into a wall. The equestrian terminology and other equine aspects were so deliberately dumbed down it made me angry, and this was not improved by the narrator's writing style with its awkward parenthetical explanations presumably set for non-horsey people — it was just a bad approach. I had more fun thinking about ways to rewrite this story than I ever did reading it. Not recommended for anyone.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Wow....I read this well within 48 hours. What a wonderful story devoted to the power of love. Lay Me Down enabled Susan to openly explore her personal history. In doing so this beautiful horse gave Susan the opportunity to work upon her issues. Lay Me Down in a sense gave Susan her life back. I loved Georgia and empathised as to why Susan did and I have to confess that from the very start I loathed Hank. I am currently saving for my own horse and cannot wait for the day that I begin the sacred sear Wow....I read this well within 48 hours. What a wonderful story devoted to the power of love. Lay Me Down enabled Susan to openly explore her personal history. In doing so this beautiful horse gave Susan the opportunity to work upon her issues. Lay Me Down in a sense gave Susan her life back. I loved Georgia and empathised as to why Susan did and I have to confess that from the very start I loathed Hank. I am currently saving for my own horse and cannot wait for the day that I begin the sacred search for mine. I too want a horse for pleasure purposes rather than an eventer. I loved the part in the book when Susan came across Georgia and knew in her heart that she was the one; "....Our conversation was getting positively chummy: two moms discussing the future of a kid we both knew wasn't going to Harvard". I loved her sense of humour too: "It was obvious she was pathologically abrasive and couldn't be trusted...." or "She made me feel like throwing myself on the steps of Lourdes and wailing, Why these legs?" You should have been born British! Your wit is so excellently dry at times, just perfect! These two snip it's from the book poetically describe what it was all about: "My past was more real than ever, more acutely alive in me than ever before" and my personal favourite "Down was my muse, my inspiration to find meaning in loss, to make peace with it, to find the beauty in it. If nothing else, to see the truth of it...." Oh and I can honestly say that I am proud to be an Anthropomorphizer!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    This is an approachable and fast memoir that most any animal lover would enjoy. Susan Richards had a lot of baggage, but by the time she entered her 40s she regarded herself as an independent woman in control of her life. She had conquered the alcohol addiction that dominated her for decades. She shed an abusive husband and family. But when she agreed to take care of an abused mare and foal, she got more than she bargained for. The mare, Lay Me Down, had every right to hate humans, but she didn' This is an approachable and fast memoir that most any animal lover would enjoy. Susan Richards had a lot of baggage, but by the time she entered her 40s she regarded herself as an independent woman in control of her life. She had conquered the alcohol addiction that dominated her for decades. She shed an abusive husband and family. But when she agreed to take care of an abused mare and foal, she got more than she bargained for. The mare, Lay Me Down, had every right to hate humans, but she didn't. She looked on Susan with trust and faith, and Susan felt her old protective barriers begin to fall. But barriers exist with a reason, and soon Susan would need to face the truth: with love comes vulnerability, but it is still worthwhile.[return][return]I was surprised at how gently this book flowed. It felt like stream-of-consciousness, progressing from memory to memory without me even fully realizing how far the story strayed. Susan had a very difficult life, and she is very honest about what she endured and also what she brought on herself. Her relationship with Lay Me Down and other horses, even the impetuous Morgan Georgia, reveal a lot about her and her maturity. This is really a book about love, life, death, and how a person is never to old to learn and grow wise.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carol Stanley-Snow

    EVERYONE MUST READ THIS BOOK!!! A friend gave me this book and i was hesitant...but, once stared, i couldn't put it down. It's heartwarming, heartbreaking and so full of life!! Susan Richards has shared with the world a beautifully written memoir that not only shows the bond between animals and humans, but, how those very same rescued animals can, and will, rescue us. I was moved to tears and i thought my heart would burst with love and agony, all at the same time. If you never read another book.... EVERYONE MUST READ THIS BOOK!!! A friend gave me this book and i was hesitant...but, once stared, i couldn't put it down. It's heartwarming, heartbreaking and so full of life!! Susan Richards has shared with the world a beautifully written memoir that not only shows the bond between animals and humans, but, how those very same rescued animals can, and will, rescue us. I was moved to tears and i thought my heart would burst with love and agony, all at the same time. If you never read another book....you MUST, read this one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Ricker

    Chosen by a Horse was a sodden, sentimental, dreary, shallow thing which somehow became a bestseller. Then again, I suppose those adjectives could be applied to many bestsellers. Ugh. My coworkers are very sweet and often lend me books. Sometimes, they're fantastic. Other times...less so. Yet I always feel compelled to read them all the way through! Why, why?? Chosen by a Horse was a sodden, sentimental, dreary, shallow thing which somehow became a bestseller. Then again, I suppose those adjectives could be applied to many bestsellers. Ugh. My coworkers are very sweet and often lend me books. Sometimes, they're fantastic. Other times...less so. Yet I always feel compelled to read them all the way through! Why, why??

  22. 4 out of 5

    Breanna Green

    I read this soon after losing my first horse to old age and the relationship she wrote about with her horse hit home. For those who have never experienced it, words cannot explain it adequately, though she tries. In the end, I had to finish this book alone so I could bawl my way through it. A must-read for horse lovers and horse owners.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Saar The Book owl

    Horses...once you get bitten by the 'horse -virus', you can't imagine them out of your life. This book touched me by the heart and I'm dissapointed for waiting so long to read it. It's proven again that these fantastic creatures have the power to change your life, most of the time without knowing that of yourself that they are doing it. This book is about the author herself, Susan, who learns to deal with her grieve of loosing her mother, of being never wanted and of knowing no love as a child an Horses...once you get bitten by the 'horse -virus', you can't imagine them out of your life. This book touched me by the heart and I'm dissapointed for waiting so long to read it. It's proven again that these fantastic creatures have the power to change your life, most of the time without knowing that of yourself that they are doing it. This book is about the author herself, Susan, who learns to deal with her grieve of loosing her mother, of being never wanted and of knowing no love as a child and as an adult, through a beautiful horse, named Lay Me Down. At one point, when the mare gets sick, there comes the unavoidable question: 'When is it enough? When is it time to end the suffering?' At one moment, Susan finds the courage to give Lay Me Down the goodbye that she so deserves. It is very moving how Susan accept her long during sadness of things that happened in the past and how she overcomes it. One of her horses, Hotshot, who had a very close connection with Lay Me Down, reacts to the death of his mare as Susan reacted as a 5 - year old child on the death of her mother. Together they say their goodbye's to the beautiful mare and finds the courage to go on. Some horses come into your life and they change you. That is what Lay Me Down did for Susan. That is what my own horse has done with me. I only hope that, one day, I'll find the strenght like Susan did, to say goodbye to my fourlegged best friend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rift Vegan

    A sweet story (view spoiler)[ the horse dies at the end. (somewhat typical for this genre, so it's not a surprise or a spoiler!) (hide spoiler)] Nice to get a glimpse into equine lives again, and remember how crazy horse people are. Case in point, Georgia is kind of a bitch and SR admits that if Georgia was a human, SR would hate her! And yet, because Georgia is a horse, SR loves her without reservation! *laughs* I suppose horse people have a good kind of crazy. :) A major disappointment for me A sweet story (view spoiler)[ the horse dies at the end. (somewhat typical for this genre, so it's not a surprise or a spoiler!) (hide spoiler)] Nice to get a glimpse into equine lives again, and remember how crazy horse people are. Case in point, Georgia is kind of a bitch and SR admits that if Georgia was a human, SR would hate her! And yet, because Georgia is a horse, SR loves her without reservation! *laughs* I suppose horse people have a good kind of crazy. :) A major disappointment for me was how Lay Me Down's daughter got treated. She was bitter and wild and uncontrollable, but SR never even attempted to gain her trust or work with her at all. And then she was taken away, and SR let it happen. ugh, so sad.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I have always loved horses and have wanted one of my own for years. That being said when I saw this book in the animal section of Barnes and Noble and read the description I bought it. I expected it to be a good story, a nice story but, I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. The relationship between "Lay Me Down" ( the horses name) and her owner is just beautiful. the most beautiful part to me is how two beings both so broken can help each other grow and heal and become better for know I have always loved horses and have wanted one of my own for years. That being said when I saw this book in the animal section of Barnes and Noble and read the description I bought it. I expected it to be a good story, a nice story but, I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. The relationship between "Lay Me Down" ( the horses name) and her owner is just beautiful. the most beautiful part to me is how two beings both so broken can help each other grow and heal and become better for knowing each other. "In fact, I thought most rescued animals exhibited signs of gratitude, and awareness of having been saved from suffering or death, and their gratitude was expressed in a particularly open affection. Lay Me Down expressed affection by sighing. I saw it as an expression of relief, a letting go of all the tension she'd carried in that big body for such a long time, the horse equivalent of " Phew I made it. " I read many reviews on this book and in almost all of them the reviewer stated that the book made them cry so when I was more than half way through the book and still hadn't cried I thought to myself Why was everyone reading this book and crying? I finally understood when I reached chapter 17. I'm not going to give anything away but boy was it heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. Chosen By a Horse is a book about broken spirits, healing, friendship, and love between animals and humans, animals and animals, and people and other people. A must read for anyone who loves a good book, horses, animals in general, or for those who just need a good cry.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    This is a bittersweet tale, beautifully written and edited. It had nothing extra. What may have taken a year or two to write, took just an evening to read. It exhibited, for me, a very affirming personality. A woman who'd knocked about (read: been knocked about) a bit, but who shows us the best of the human condition: love, integrity, generosity, acceptance, humor. I loved reading of the horses, because she has such long experience handling them, and of Cornell, certainly one of the most beautifu This is a bittersweet tale, beautifully written and edited. It had nothing extra. What may have taken a year or two to write, took just an evening to read. It exhibited, for me, a very affirming personality. A woman who'd knocked about (read: been knocked about) a bit, but who shows us the best of the human condition: love, integrity, generosity, acceptance, humor. I loved reading of the horses, because she has such long experience handling them, and of Cornell, certainly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Though the author presents Ithaca at its coldest and most unforgiving, she describes Cornell well--it had the highest quality of life I have ever seen--and that comes through loud and clear. And I laughed to hear of her fears and insecurities about dating--and the ridiculous and incongruous results. The author has the practice of making plays on words to express affection for animals she knows. For example, when describing a Morgan, a breed of horse known for its independent, even obstinate nature, she might say something like: "But not my Morgan. My Morgan is a peechum meechum." While gushy sobriquets generally make me wince, but I must admit to calling my dog, whose name is Porsche, Porchetto, or Porcino on occasion. A similar play on words might describe the insufferable man who angled for her attention: "Hank the Blankity-Blank." An honest, admirable book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becky Norman

    I so didn't want to like this book; didn't want to condone the soft-hearted, tree-hugger anthropomorphizing that went on about how horses view their lives; didn't want to be manipulated into feeling bad for the situation of a sick rescue horse. Of course, my resolve lasted just as long as it took for the "real" story to come out. You know the one: the real story where horses have this uncanny way of unlocking the emotions we humans think we've so cleverly tucked away - the way we identify all to I so didn't want to like this book; didn't want to condone the soft-hearted, tree-hugger anthropomorphizing that went on about how horses view their lives; didn't want to be manipulated into feeling bad for the situation of a sick rescue horse. Of course, my resolve lasted just as long as it took for the "real" story to come out. You know the one: the real story where horses have this uncanny way of unlocking the emotions we humans think we've so cleverly tucked away - the way we identify all too easily with what they're going through and how we've been through the same (and didn't handle it nearly as well). Richards deftly ties her own "needing-rescue" past with that of a Standardbred mare's and hooks a worthy star on that horse's willingness to try and try again, to accept the worst that's happened to her and keep trusting, keep believing that the best starts now. A heart-breaker, tear-jerker...and I can't say anymore because I have to go outside now in a raging blizzard and hug my own horses. :)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    This is a sweet story with sections of good writing and lucidity. Overall, the author allows herself too many repetitive moments of self-indulgence. Even a memoir should be allowed to unfold with subtlety and more "showing" than "telling." That being said, the ending is clear, creative and poignant. This is a sweet story with sections of good writing and lucidity. Overall, the author allows herself too many repetitive moments of self-indulgence. Even a memoir should be allowed to unfold with subtlety and more "showing" than "telling." That being said, the ending is clear, creative and poignant.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Wooton

    Therapeutic for the author; depressing for the reader. Ms. Richards, next time just tell it to your diary.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    "Two kindred spirits find each other in this beautifully written memoir about the human-animal bond."-Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation The horse Susan Richards chose for rescue wouldn't be corralled into her waiting trailer. But Lay Me Down, a former racehorse with a foal close on her heels, walked right up that ramp and into Susan's life. Weak from malnutrition, Lay Me Down had endured a rough road, but somehow her heart was still open and generous. Then fate brought her into Sus "Two kindred spirits find each other in this beautifully written memoir about the human-animal bond."-Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation The horse Susan Richards chose for rescue wouldn't be corralled into her waiting trailer. But Lay Me Down, a former racehorse with a foal close on her heels, walked right up that ramp and into Susan's life. Weak from malnutrition, Lay Me Down had endured a rough road, but somehow her heart was still open and generous. Then fate brought her into Susans paddock, where she taught this brokenhearted woman how to embrace the joys of life despite the dangers of living. "Susan Richards thought she was rescuing a starved, abused and abandoned mare . . . Turns out Lay Me Down was rescuing Susan Richards. An incredibly moving story, beautifully written and insightful." "Important lessons about courage, kindness and grief." Susan Richards has a B.A. in English from the University of Colorado and a Master of Social Work degree from Adelphi University. She lives in Bearsville, New York, and teaches writing at SUNY Ulster and Marist College. PRAISE FOR CHOSEN BY A HORSE "This is an inspirational story of what family means, and what the loss of one can do to us, and for us." "Two kindred spirits find each other in this beautifully written memoir about the human-animal bond."Synopsis The horse Susan Richards chose for rescue wouldn't be corralled into her waiting trailer. Instead Lay Me Down, a former racehorse with a foal close on her heels, walked right up that ramp and into Susan's life. This gentle creature malnourished, plagued by pneumonia and an eye infection had endured a rough road, but somehow her heart was still open and generous. It seemed fated that she would come into Susan's paddock and teach her how to embrace the joys of life despite the dangers of living. An elegant and often heartbreaking tale filled with animal characters as complicated and lively as their human counterparts, this is an inspiring story of courage and hope and the ways in which all love even an animals has the power to heal. A lonely woman who's had a difficult life agrees to take care of a skeletal racehorse rescued by the SPCA. Susan Richards already owns three horses, but it is with Lay Me Down that she forges a special, healing relationship that alters her life. She already has three horses that are very fun in their personalities. When Lay Me Down comes, it takes awhile for them to get acquainted and to become a cohesive herd. Then one day a Vet comes to call and sees that there is an infection/tumor in Lay Me Down's eye. The story continues and it worsens. Then they decide to take her to a Horse School where students in Vet school can check her and determine if what she has is treatable. Turns out that she has an inoperable tumor in her eye. Very touching and after crying a few buckets full, we read on and the many decisions that have to be made in her behalf. I don't want to be a spoiler. Just two months ago, I had to put my Cat Frisco down. I cried buckets then too. Still miss him every day. This book touched my heart on many levels, and to see Susan work through these life experiences really touched me. It's a very well written book. Recommend.

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