Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards

My friend Dawn loaned me a copy of Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards.  Damn! It’s  one of those can’t-put-it-down books!  I sat up very late on Friday night and read and read until I got to the end.  And yes, I was tearing up and snuffling a bit. 

An abused animal walks into Susan’s life in a way she didn’t control or expect.  Susan was responding to a plea from her local SPCA to take in one of several confiscated animals and wound up with Lay Me Down, an emaciated mare in the company of possibly the world’s meanest foal.  Through the help of horse-savy friends and her own expertise, Susan returns the mare to health (the foal was given to a vet per judge’s orders and Susan and her conferederates considered stealing it — but off it went).

In the meantime, Susan learns tons about herself.  Yes, she’d been on the road to self-discovery for many years and Lay Me Down was not her first horse.  Her first horse was a “gift” from an insane relative  — an out-of-control pony. Susan was five and when the relative handed her the lead rope and said, “Her name is Bunty,” leaving the child “alone with a chain saw.” Susan’s had horses her whole life since then so is no stranger to them and their dangers and their healings.  But Lay Me Down seems to have brought Susan across the last hurdle into that club we all yearn to join, the Club of the Fully Human.

I am amazed at Susan’s self-revelations.  She’s unsparing in describing her childhood, a twisted mixture of priviledge and complete torment, and yet she never lets herself off the hook by blaming others. On the other hand, the picture of the  total weirdness of her family is full of OMG! moments so yeah, they deserve some blame.  But Susan takes the responsibility squarely on herself for her own actions.

Enter Lay Me Down.  Lay Me Down is sweet. Caring. Gentle. Ful of love and full of patience. Lay Me Down is battered by Susan’s alpha mare Georgia, but first loved by the gelding Hotshot.  Lay Me Down gets healthy and puts on weight.  She’ll never be ridden or worked because she’s so lame, but she’s warming Susan up inside. Lay Me Down warmed me up inside too.

But it’s bittersweet.  Lay Me Down is not long for this world.  Susan is faced with a hard choice for which there is no right or wrong answer.  She makes her decision when it has to be made and she does the best she can — and probably the right thing, to boot.  The moment of the greatest sorrow provides her with release from the central issue of childhood and also the greatest moment of hope.

On a side note, if it takes a village to raise a child, then it also takes a herd of people to help a horse.  In all of this, Susan is aided by her healer pal Allie, a variety of vets, a trailer-driving couple, and finally, the man who digs the hole.

It’s a good book.  Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards.



Filed under Books

15 responses to “Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards

  1. Oh I didn’t loan it — I ordered it for you!! You could email her here:

    It’ll probably make her whole day. Seriously.

  2. denise

    I read that book and loved it to.
    It is the kind of book that makes me wonder where I am in the journey and what role my buddy Red the rent a horse is playing in it.
    Hide site being 20/20 and all , I guess I will find out soon enough.

  3. Shauna

    I loved this book so much. Being raised around horses I truly understand how they can change your life. My oldest daughter now has a wonderful bond with a Welsh/Morgan cross and it is so wonderful to watch them grow together. I also cried at the end of the book..

  4. I read, cried, laughed, and cried through this book. I could relate in so many way to the struggle that Sue was going through. I didn’t loose my parents but lost my innocence at the hands of a step-father. I think the light-bulb moment for me in the book is when she says toward the end that she never really accepted her childhood but viewed it as a story of what happened to someone else. I’ve often thought I was over the childhood but this made me really think. I am thankful for Lay Me Down, that she had Sue to help before she left this earth. What an awesome mare. I was blessed by this story!

  5. Cindy

    I loved the book so much. Does anyone know how I could email her? I would love to send her an email or letter telling her how much I cried and loved the book.

  6. Isn’t this a good book? That’s so neat that you liked it! You could write a letter to her in care of the publisher. That’s worked for me in the past when I wanted to send fan mail to writers.

  7. Cindy

    Yes, it was really a good book. I miss reading it :)Thank you so much for the feedback – I will try what you suggested.

    thanks again

  8. Cheryl

    What a wonderful, moving book! And, what a wonderful memoir to Lay Me Down. Her gentle spirit will live on through this book.

  9. Jess

    I read this one and it is absolutly wonderful!

  10. derpudel

    Susan Richards, as an author, has moments of true brilliance in this self-revealing book of a woman’s journey towards discovering how to emerge from the pain of losing love early on, to choosing the path of taking the risks of loving again. All of this courtesy of the unexpected bond between herself and a rescued ex-racing Standardbred mare named Lay Me Down. The story soars whenever it is focused upon the horse and Ms. Richards. However, the thin and spotty parts where she is telling us about her attempts at a relationship with a man is glaringly less rich with details. As a result, I found myself not caring about the failure for that union to never be a union.
    It isn’t exactly a happy story, do don’t read it if you aren’t in the mood for such reality.

  11. I loved this book. Simple and realistic, but complicated and mystical at the same time. It made me cry and it made me laugh. Well done Susan!

  12. Samantha Parsons

    What a beautiful story given to us by Susan and her horse Lay Me Down. I feel as if Lay Me Down and Susan both entered my life as well and given me hope for what I may have to look forward to one day. Thank you for sharing, your book is a blessing.

  13. Maria Kirschner

    I Have read this book three times and it has made such an impact on my heart and my life. Susan makes you realise what is truly important in life. As a animal lover and a newly single 40-something she handles life with such grace. Thank you…Maria

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