Book Review: Horse Woman by Anna Blake

I was delighted when Anna Blake’s new book arrived . I have read other books by her, both poetry and prose. This book, Horse Woman, is poetry. In essence it is an autobiography in poems. These poems give us glimpses into Anna’s childhood as well as her life now. Here are a few lines from Go Fish.

Mom took us in the station wagon to the Church bazaar. Homemade women’s goods for sale, cross-stitched gingham aprons, jars of chokecherry syrup, crocheted doilies as fine as snowflakes. A long table with lemon meringue pies and scratch yellow cakes with chocolate frosting lined up for the cakewalk. I wandered past game booths, a ring toss with holy card prizes, all the way to the booth where I was sure to win. Go Fish…..

Or this from her time as a kid on a farm in Minnesota where animals were Not Allowed.

Animals were not allowed in our farmhouse, three rooms and an attic. Dark mornings, thin glass against the Minnesota winter, the icy linoleum floors nipped at my bed-warm feet as I ran down the stairs in flannel pajamas to dress in front of the oil furnace.

Anna does not glamorize the life she leads now on her farm in a flat, windy, treeless, prairie of Colorado. She looks after a herd of horses, llamas, goats, dogs and Edgar Rice Burro who she describes as their “moral compass”.

She introduces us to several of the horses. These are real life horses, no Disney ponies here. Many of them have had hard lives and have come to live out their days with Anna. Here are two lines from Neglect:

Who does not tend a fragile place within? Please stay, rest on this little farm where we mend ourselves using each other’s spare parts.”

She shares experiences that any horse person will relate to. One poem is called “Waiting for the Vet”

Out in front of the shelter, kneeling low to be close, pulling my glove off to touch his cheek. Please, please don’t go. No terror greater than checking my watch again, pleading for headlights in the blizzard. “

There is one poem that spoke to me in a wonderful way. Reading this poem made me think of riding my horse Biasini. Here is Horse and Rider in its’ entirety.

“Such an arc to his stride, soft rhythm as his hooves cut the arena sand. Sit tall, rider, with balance and broad shoulders. Fill your lungs and share his pride. And just then, ask for a little more. Too much and he’ll lurch on tense muscles. Ask with the quiet belief that when he feels his full strength , he’ll rise, his confidence undeniable. A kind request, just another inch, to lift across the line from powerful precision to the rare air of brilliance. Ride the crest of his wave.”

For me that poem describes so well the feeling of riding Biasini. Ride the crest of his wave. In future, that is what I will remember when I am on him.

This is more than just a collection of poems. This is a book that takes the reader into another person’s world and introduces us to the inhabitants of that world.

Anna Blake dedicates this book to the mares.

“To our Mares, the ones who know us best, for their toughness and intelligence and character. It was always about cooperation, not domination. For them, it was always about herd and home. “

If you are a horse person you will love this book. If you have nothing to do with horses in your life, this book will speak to you about them and you will learn things you never imagined to be possible.

Illustrations by Rebecca Howard.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Auntysocial says:

    Added to my Amazon basket this sounds brilliant.

    That line “No terror greater than checking my watch again, pleading for headlights in the blizzard” Oh man I felt that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes! That is the ultimate nightmare! I felt just as you did when I read that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Backyard Horse Blog says:

    Love the quotes that you selected here! “Ride the crest of his wave” indeed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Glad you liked the quotes. A good post can express so much with so few words. Thanks for commenting !

      Liked by 1 person

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