California Riding Magazine • July, 2013

Book & DVD Reviews
From the Horse's Mouth; Playing with Magic

From the Horse's Mouth: One Lucky Memoir
Written by Gayle Carline
Reviewed by Debbie Haas

I loved Gayle Carline's book From the Horse's Mouth: One Lucky Memoir, finding it an entertaining read. In turns, it's laugh-out-loud funny, touching, and a great way to learn about life as a horse. Being a "non-horsey" person, I went into this read a little intimated, afraid there would be much I couldn't understand. But Snoopy, a young fellow living in a stable with older horses, had even more to learn than I did. Together, we learned about training, horse shows, why a broken leg is so bad for a horse, and how some lucky horses recover from those breaks.

But that's not the only reason Snoopy is a lucky horse. Snoopy is honestly, loyally loved in a world where many hapless horses are passed from owner to owner, seen only as property, as he learns from talking with some of these unlucky souls who shared his stable.
For me, the story dragged a little during Snoopy's recovery from his broken leg—but in that, Gayle perfectly conveys the boredom this lively young guy felt during that time.

With its short chapters, entertaining dialog, and situations, From the Horse's Mouth is a also good book to read aloud to non- or early-readers.

Thanks to Gayle for taking the time to learn the language of horses so that she could take down Snoopy's dictation!

Debbie Haas is a wife, mom, and grandmother of 14 who, until now, knew nothing about horses.

Playing with Magic
DVD by Wayne Ewing
Reviewed by Dianne Chapman McCleery

Emmy-winning film maker Wayne Ewing has released a new film, Playing with Horses, based on the book Zen Mind, Zen Horse by Dr. Allan Hamilton (see Dianne's review of Zen Mind, Zen Horse in our April, 2012 issue). In the film, Dr. Hamilton says, "I think we're all wounded in one way or another. I think all of us have holes in our lives." This film explores ways that individuals

are using horses to help others fill the holes in their lives.
Dr. Hamilton, a brain surgeon and professor of medicine, along with his wife, psychologist Dr. Jane Hamilton, run equine-facilitated programs from their ranch, Rancho Bosque. Playing with Magic focuses on their program for cancer patients, and follows two of those patients. Hamilton states that equine assisted learning and therapy works because working with a horse demands emotional commitment and spiritual connection. The horse is a mirror and reflects that individual's energy.

As in the book Zen Mind, Zen Horse, Playing with Magic emphasizes the transformative power of natural horsemanship and spotlights several of the well-known trainers such as Monty Roberts and Tom and Bill Dorrance. Hamilton emphasizes that natural horsemanship transforms the practitioner, and the handler learns a new way of being in the world. As Leslie Desmond says in the film, "A horse is an experience. And what you will experience is yourself."

As well as the Hamiltons' work with cancer patients, Monty Roberts' work with those diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and others' work with autistic and physically disabled individuals are shown. Hamilton says, "Horses heals wounds. They patch up holes," and this film shows those who the horse is healing emotionally if not physically.

Also highlighted is the Extreme Mustang Makeover where participants are given 100 days to train and compete with a wild Mustang. Participant Justin Dunn stated that the horse changed him as much if not more than he helped the horse.

Anyone who loves horses knows they are magic, and have the power to transform lives. This film explores this fact and brings the magic to those who watch it.

For more information on the film visit:

Dianne Chapman McCleery is a writer and editor who rides with a natural horsemanship trainer in the Sierra Nevada foothills.