California Riding Magazine • July, 2011

Book Reviews
The Passion for Horses & Artistic Talent; The Perfect Pony

The Passion for Horses & Artistic Talent, An Unrecognized Connection
Written by Robert M. Miller, D.V.M.
Reviewed by Dianne Chapman McCleery

In The Passion for Horses & Artistic Talent, Robert Miller focuses on a connection between people who are passionate about horses and their artistic talent. He states that he believes this link has a genetic factor. He supports his theory with interviews of horsemen and women who share his passion and are also accomplished poets, dancers, painters and musicians.

In the preface of this book, Dr. Miller separates those who are horse lovers from those who simply work with horses. He gives three attributes of horse lovers: kindness, artistry, and willingness to face a challenge. He also makes the point that horse lovers are unique because horses are unique as well as dangerous. To be willing to work to do the hard work that horses require, as well as facing the danger they represent, takes a special individual.

Dr. Miller asks the question, "What is it that causes so many of us to devote our lives to horses?" He answers this question by stating " lovers ... have two personality characteristics. 1. They are animal lovers. Even though the horse is the special center of their attention, they have an affinity for all animals.... 2. They have artistic ability. To the best of my knowledge, the link, which I think is genetic in origin, has never been formally described before."

Some of the horse lovers in this book have made mid-career changes to work with horses, others recognized their passion in childhood. In any case, it is entertaining to read that Julie Goodnight loves to dance, Dennis Gaines writes poetry, Richard Winters sings and plays the guitar, and Eitan Beth-Halachamy is a skilled sculptor. I didn't realize that Dr. Miller has spent decades drawing cartoons that have been published in Western Horseman, although I'm sure I've enjoyed many of them over the years.

This self-published book is entertaining in the horse lovers profiled. It is interesting to note the professions of those who made the mid-life transition. For instance, Jim Parchman was an astrophysicist and David Lichman a software engineer. Although the book is generously illustrated with black and white photographs, it did leave me wanting more. Fortunately, the website,, has the color originals of the photos in the book as well as links to the websites of most of those profiled.

Dr. Miller has demonstrated in his lectures, books and videos that he is adept at thinking "outside the box." This book shows that he has thought long and hard about those, like himself, who are passionate about horses. His answer seems to be – blame (or praise) your genes.

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

The Perfect Pony
Written by Susan McBane
Reviewed by Joanna Fung

As a busy pony owner, you may feel guilty when reading a pleasure book. Here's a book that you could read and not feel guilty reading. Beneficial, and easy to read, this book will be right for you. Author Susan McBane has written The Perfect Pony, and probably has a perfect pony too.

This book will teach you to care and to train for your pony.

This book is "broken" into twelve chapters, even though when read it seems like there is only half of that. The first chapter on pony types and breeds can help you choose what pony is right for you, which is the next chapter. Remember, that the temper of a pony is also crucial. You do not want to give an easily angered pony to a young child.

Next this book talks about showing your pony. You may have questions such as to what events are right for me, or how should I prepare for a competition. This book goes through explanations on events that you may want to try out. Then the book tells you how to care and prepare for
the show.

Then, this book tells you where and how to find good housing for your pony. Then it teaches you how to groom your horse properly and what kind of brush you should use when brushing a certain part as well as when you should clip a pony. It then shows you how and where you should tie your pony. How to lead and where you lead is how you handle a pony.

What should you feed a hard working pony? You may want to know the answer. This book has the answer. What kinds of feed or what you should feed is all answered in this book.

My pony is not looking so well, I wonder what is wrong. The book tells you about a few signs of sicknesses. Then what you should do in an emergency. It is always good to know what to do just in case.

You're a first time pony owner and you need some tack. Whatever shall I do? This book walks you through the steps of buying tack. Too big, or small, you need to adjust your tack. Dust everywhere? The book teaches how to care for your tack.

All in all, this is a great book especially for first time pony owners or for those who are considering purchasing a pony.

Joanna is a tween girl and has been riding for three years and is currently riding in the San Jose Bay Area. Besides riding, Joanna enjoys reading, drawing and theater.