I picked up In Service to the Horse by Susan Nesser because I read about it on a horse blog. There you have it. My confession. I am a horse girl. However, I’m posting it here for several reasons. The first being that I tend to drift away from nonfiction. I can’t say why, and the reason isn’t rooted in any particulars, I just simply love fiction. So, when I find a truly great nonfiction read, it’s as eye-opening as it is enjoyable, and I feel myself growing as a reader… just a little bit. The second reason I decided to review this book is because it’s a fantastic glimpse into the lives of horsemen regardless of your opinions toward horses. This review also felt aptly timed. The London Olympics are just around the corner and equestrian sports are the only Olympic games where men and women compete on an equal playing field. There’s your fun fact for the day, kids. Additionally, we’ve been on the heels of some pretty interesting Triple Crown potentials in the last few years, and horsemen and sportsmen alike will agree that horse racing is one of the most timeless icons of American sport.
In Service to the Horse follows both an eventing team and a highly regarded breeding stable in Kentucky. It shines an incredible light on the lives of the grooms and horse owners as it takes place behind the scenes. I am convinced, sadly, that I will never have enough gumption or love for getting up at 4am to become a professional horseman, but the bond and love these grooms have for the horses they care for is, to put it simply, staggering. If light and fluffy isn’t for you, there is an incredible look at the history of horses and how paramount their presence was to the existence of ancient cultures. I’ll go on to say that if thrills are your game, the bravery involved within professional eventing sets an incredible standard to be met, and it’s described within this text in a beautiful way. My palms grew sweaty more than once. And lastly, if you’re in the market for a good conspiracy, show jumping and horse racing are among the top players. The book outlines one of the largest horse conspiracies of our time, an event that was well documented in Ken Englade’s true-crime book, Hot Blood, an issue that rocked the horse world and has since been cemented in history. Do you want to know why there hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner in 25 years? Well, Susan Nesser takes a pretty good crack at explaining why. What I’m saying is, people, there is something for everyone in this book.
Sadly, this book isn’t currently in print, another reason I wanted to give it a shout out. It’s only available in hardback on Amazon and I’d love to see it garner some support. This read will teach you things about an industry you will never otherwise know. I found the writing wonderfully well rounded and heart felt. If John Krakauer wrote a horse book, it would look a helluva lot like this one.
If you have an inkling for horse books, I implore you to pick this one up. It will not disappoint.