Chosen by a Horse is a memoir by Susan Richards. She agreed to foster a Standardbred mare and her foal when they and nearly 40 other mares and foals were confiscated by the SPCA from a farm where they were abused and neglected. She brought this mare, Lay Me Down, back to her own farm even though she lived alone, already owned three horses and Lay Me Down was so sick she had no guarantee of survival. The foal was inexplicably returned to the abusive owner (apparently to be surrendered to a vet to whom the owner owed money), but Lay Me Down eventually recovered from the malnutrition and lung infection she was suffering from when Ms. Richards brought her home.
You would think that a horse who had been abused, nearly starved, and denied medical care would be the either the meanest or most skittish horse on earth, but Lay Me Down had a big, loving heart and over the following months, she helped Ms. Richards – who had a past just as horrific as Lay Me Down’s – open up her own heart through caring for this wonderful horse.
I won’t give away any more of the story, because you really should read it for yourself. It’s a really good book; very well-written and touching. I will tell you that when I got to the end, I was reading it in bed next to Bill, who was already asleep, and I was sobbing so hard I was afraid I would wake him. So you’ve been warned – grab a hankie with this book.
My one and only complaint is that there was only one photograph, on the title page. I sure would have loved to see some pictures of Lay Me Down and the other horses (Hotshot, Tempo and especially the lovely Georgia). But I guess Ms. Richards is more like me than Bill – at our house, Bill pretty much takes all the pictures, and I prefer to live the moment rather than photograph it. Apparently, Ms. Richards feels the same way, and only takes pictures when the moment demands it, such as the one on the title page (in the book, she talks very specifically about taking that one photo, and why). But she paints such a vivid picture with words that you can imagine everything in your head almost as well as if you did have a photograph to see.
All in all, Chosen by a Horse is one of the best books I’ve read, fiction or non-fiction. Definitely a must-read.