Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals, Women, and Passion

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Overview

"Thought-provoking.... A lovely testament to horses and women from all walks of life."—Karen Stone, Chicago Tribune
In a phenomenon too prevalent to be mere chance, little girls all over the Western world wake one day to find themselves completely taken over by the love of all things equine. Melissa Holbrook Pierson was one of those horse-crazy girls who later returned to riding with a new appreciation for the nature of horses. Melding memoir, sociology, history, anecdote, and a bit of prose poetry, Dark Horses ...

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Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals, Women, a Passion

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Overview

"Thought-provoking.... A lovely testament to horses and women from all walks of life."—Karen Stone, Chicago Tribune
In a phenomenon too prevalent to be mere chance, little girls all over the Western world wake one day to find themselves completely taken over by the love of all things equine. Melissa Holbrook Pierson was one of those horse-crazy girls who later returned to riding with a new appreciation for the nature of horses. Melding memoir, sociology, history, anecdote, and a bit of prose poetry, Dark Horses and Black Beauties delves beneath the shallow hypotheses explaining women's connection to horses to look at how this communication with another animal opens us up to a new apprehension of the larger "natural" world. "A fearless book: unflinching, honest, and kind."—Village Voice "The play of her mind...is subtle and quick; coltish, one wants to say, and one would be right."—The New York Times, Richard Bernstein "So beautifully written that it instantly captivates."—Newark Star-Ledger "She muses to deep and lyrical effect in her new collection of slender and delicate essays on horses and women."—Richard Bernstein, The New York Times "A meditation intended to dispel those tiresome Freudian theories aimed at the universal fascination women seem to have with horses."—The New York Times Book Review, Jillian Dunham "A fearless book: unflinching, earnest, and kind."—Village Voice, Emily Jenkins "This is a poignant, charming, and realistic book."—Maxine Kumin "Whoever likes animals will love this book, and better yet, whoever seeks to fathom the mysterious relationships between ourselves and other species will be transported."—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs "As passionate as it is informative....Rich in history, romance, and charm, Pierson's devotion to horses is always engaging, and most of all, moving."—Brenda Peterson, co-editor of Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals "Pierson's...writing...is well suited to her subject, containing bits of breathless enthusiasm one moment and peaceful contemplation the next."—Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Brenda Peterson
As passionate as it is informative....Rich in history, romance, and charm, Pierson's devotion to horses is always engaging, and most of all, moving.
Maxine Kumin
This is a poignant, charming, and realistic book.
Richard Bernstein
She muses to deep and lyrical effect in her new collection of slender and delicate essays on horses and women. —The New York Times
Karen Stone
This thought-provoking work weaves together history, anecdotes, poetry and personal memoirs of women and their often-intense love for horses. —Chicago Tribune
Village Voice
A fearless book: unflinching, honest, and kind.
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Whoever likes animals will love this book, and better yet, whoever seeks to fathom the mysterious relationships between ourselves and other species will be transported.
Newark Star-Ledger
So beautifully written that it instantly captivates.
New York Times Book Review
A meditation intended to dispel those tiresome Freudian theories aimed at the universal fascination women seem to have with horses.
New York Times
The play of her mind...is subtle and quick; coltish, one wants to say, and one would be right.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
During her midlife quest to explain the horse-filled frenzy of her childhood, Pierson (The Perfect Vehicle: What Is It About Motorcycles?) interviews the founder of an equine welfare group who expertly classifies the three kinds of women who love horses: "[T]hose who want something out of them, personally or professionally; those who anthropomorphize them; and those who are seeking a higher knowledge about horses and humans and the mysteries of their intersection." The author falls into the last group as she plumbs the depths of both the feminine and the equine, looking closely at how the two intertwine. Although the book freely mixes history, memoir, sociology, psychology and even snippets of poetry, Pierson does follow a clear narrative line. Acknowledging that her love of horses has endured long past childhood, she signs up for riding lessons. As she recalls passages from Black Beauty and describes Breyer model horse competitions from her youth, the author grows into a better horsewoman, remembering riding techniques and recapturing her love for manure's particular smell. As she gets more expert, her meditation on women and horses deepens and ranges more widely, encompassing horse racing, sidesaddle riding, class issues and competition. Pierson's smooth writing style is well suited to her subject, containing bits of breathless enthusiasm one moment and peaceful contemplation the next. Although she doesn't arrive at a definitive answer to why little girls all over the Western world suddenly become horse obsessed, she does provide a host of smaller, personal epiphanies about a woman's need to connect with the natural world, and the empowerment that comes from commanding a larger, more forceful being. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Booknews
Pierson, the author of , expands her love of transport with her paean to, and reveries about the horse: "And then the image of a horse struck my eyes. In it was something that vibrated below the level of hearing, below that of thought. Here was something that could bear me away, and all the outcasts who could find no one to talk to." Pierson approaches the horse from a variety of angles, including an informal, broad- brushed history that catalogues horse death from war and horse abuse from jobs and sports, as well as a series of literary citations about girls and horses. But more generally, this book is ideal for anyone wanting to ponder, in a relaxed, quick read, the love that human females have for horses (does it give away too much to mention ?). No index or other academic accouterments. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Richard Bernstein
The play of her mind...is subtle and quick; coltish, one wants to say, and one would be right.
The New York Times
Emily Jenkins
A fearless book: unflinching, earnest, and kind.
Village Voice
Stoner
This thought-provoking work weaves together history, anecdotes, poetry and personal memoirs of women and their often-intense love for horses.
Chicago Tribune
Jillian Dunham
A meditation intended to dispel those tiresome Freudian theories aimed at the universal fascination women seem to have with horses.
The New York Times Book Review
Richard Bernstein
[A] new collection of slender and delicate essays on horses and women. . . . [Y]ou don't have to be persuaded by everything she says to appreciate the play of her mind, which is subtle and quick; coltish, one wants to say, and one would be right.
The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393322668
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 976,907
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Melissa Holbrook Pierson is the author of The Perfect Vehicle, The Place You Love Is Gone, Dark Horses and Black Beauties, and The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing and The Secret History of Kindness. She lives in Shokan, New York.

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Table of Contents

1. Time Machine 11
2. Symptomology 19
3. Reason for Being 27
4. Sunrise 37
5. Comp Lit 47
6. Back Story 57
7. Approach 69
8. Horse's Mouth 75
9. Phenomenal 85
10. Begin Again 95
11. Code 101
12. Messiah 115
13. Personals 133
14. Ends of the Earth 143
15. Learning Curve 151
16. What Is This Thing Called 161
17. Narcissist 169
18. Crack Forming 175
19. Counterindications 181
20. War 195
21. The End 203
22. Bridge 211
23. We Are/Are Not 215
24. Quest 231
25. Circle Right 243
Acknowledgments 251
A Note on Readings 253
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2001

    A fantastic read!!!!!!!!!

    I finished a quarter of it standing next to its shelf at a Barnes & Noble store - then I finished the next quarter of it sitting in the nearest chair there - I decided I had better bring it home to finish. Being an 'equestrian' and an author, I have read numerous equine books - this particular one managed to reach out, grab my soul, and gave it a good shaking. At one moment I've never felt so ashamed of my hypocritical self, and then on to the next moment of soaring in the possibility of feeling excited that there is a better future. Pierson does not hold back on pointing the finger of accusation out to all of us for wanting to domesticate so many things for our own selfish 'wants and needs.' She is right, they don't need us, WE need them. She pens horrific facts and figures that none of us will want to acknowledge as truth, although we know they are. Although she's been criticized for not following the marketing of the book (isn't the marketing supposed to follow the book?) towards women - I do not see these critics point. In every chapter there is reference to women - their love, the impact of their love (good and bad), and their history with animals/horses. Everyone should read this book - everyone should read this, heed it, and being willing to accept responsibility for the damage that we all have done - and don't blame Pierson for being the one to make us see, instead, thank her. Maybe if we really love something, we should let it go...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2000

    If you love, or know someone who LOVES horses--buy this book!

    From the first page of this book, I felt the author understood me and through her eloquence, I was able to convey my obsession with horses to others. I kept saying, 'This is me!' as I read the book. Like any 'addiction', I was both relieved and pleased that there are others out there like me. I laughed out loud and held back tears in front of total strangers (cried like a baby when alone) while reading this foray into the mystical hold that horses have over some of us. I performed a librarian's 'ultimate sin' and dog-eared pages. Later, I would read them aloud to family and friends, able to put into words how I felt about horses and ultimately, myself. As an adult 'horse freak', this is the most incredible book I have ever read about my obsession. I recommend it to anyone with that same unexplainable attraction. I will read it again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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