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She Flies Without Wings: How Horses Touch a Woman's Soul

She Flies Without Wings: How Horses Touch a Woman's Soul

4.4 16
by Mary D. Midkiff

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From a renowned horsewoman and gifted storyteller comes this groundbreaking new book that explores a powerful relationship like no other: the magical kinship between women and horses.

Drawing from myth and literature, the author’s own experiences, and interviews with countless women, we learn, through women’s deeply personal stories, how horses


From a renowned horsewoman and gifted storyteller comes this groundbreaking new book that explores a powerful relationship like no other: the magical kinship between women and horses.

Drawing from myth and literature, the author’s own experiences, and interviews with countless women, we learn, through women’s deeply personal stories, how horses enrich our lives and connect us to nature–making us readers of rhythm and invisible signs, helping us harness our youthful sexuality, sharing the “horsepower” we need to reach our dreams. And here we see how, for thousands of years, the deep kinship between women and horses has connected us to our most intimate feelings of delight, helped us learn to solve problems, and set our creativity free.

From the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer to the fiction of Jane Austen to folktales from around the world, She Flies Without Wings uses great literature and myth to encompass a wide spectrum of beliefs and perspectives–and creates a true celebration of speed, air, and the spectacular animal that connects us with both.

Filled with the moving lessons–-about sensuality, commitment, power, nurturance, and spirituality–women riders have known for centuries, written with a loving hand by an expert equestrian, She Flies Without Wings is an eloquent paean to a pairing that enlivened history, inspired literature, and continues to enchant us all.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Noting that more than 80% of the participants in American horse-related activities are girls and women, Kentucky native Midkiff explores her own experiences to explain this resilient tie. Horse whispering in a new key.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In stables and paddocks across the world, young girls lean against horses, sighing with the kind of happiness only horse lovers know. Midkiff (Fitness, Performance, and the Female Equestrian), obviously an equestrian down to her very marrow, tries to convey this ecstasy with a combination of autobiography, storytelling and snippets of poetry, essays and novels. For the most part, she succeeds, recalling her days growing up near a horse farm, nurturing her passion through horse clubs and finally assuming responsibility for her first horse, a temperamental beast unlike the one she now calls her muse. When she takes a step back to examine why women love horses, Midkiff stumbles into sticky sentimentality, evincing none of the detachment necessary for such an exercise. She does better when it comes to the book's real meat: her emotional autobiography. By including passages of breathless admiration, love and obsession, she allows a rare view of horse-based compulsion. She ambitiously divides the book into introspective sections (e.g., "Power," "Creativity," "Danger," "Transformation Through Compassion" and "Freedom") based on what horses have brought into her own and other women's lives (more than 80% of people involved with horses are girls and women), namely a liberating sense of self-acceptance. (Apr. 17) Forecast: While Midkiff's work explores many universal themes, her audience will be limited to other soul-searching female horse lovers. The Horse Whisperer this isn't. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Lyrical. Poetic. Powerful...Destined to become a classic...a stirring volume about the profound and intense relationship between women and horses. Midkiff is a splendid writer and has produced a truly breakthrough book. Run out and buy a copy for yourself, and pick up an extra for your favorite girlfriend.”
–Horsemen’s Yankee Pedlar

“Lyrical and compelling, Midkiff’s prose speaks to the depth of a woman’s soul.”
–Susan Chernak McElroy, New York Times bestselling author of Animals As Teachers & Healers

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

A Natural Affinity

I grew up in New England: Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island. I never rode as a child, although I had my own imaginary horse that I rode around my grandparents' backyard. I obsessively drew horses and wrote poems about them colliding in the sky with brilliant colors around them. Returning to this subject matter as an adult, and subsequently learning how to ride, is like reliving the adolescence I never had and fulfilling a dream deferred.
-- Patricia Cronin, "Pony Tales," from Horse People: Writers and Artists on the Horses They Love

When I was six, I was a horse.

My home was in the heart of central Kentucky on just the sort of white-fenced Thoroughbred horse farm the words "bluegrass" and "Kentucky" suggest. My father managed the breeding farm and crop operations, which gave my family the right to live in the manager's house. While I slept in this house, I lived as much as possible in the barns and pastures where the rest of my herd grazed. That's how I thought of the mares and foals and weanlings and yearlings at Hartland Farm: as my herd.

If you had spied me with my herd, you would have seen a girl small for her age, perched precariously atop the post-and-board fence that bordered the Hartland fields. You might have noticed legs too short to reach the second rail. You would not have known I was a horse and that I felt my legs were long and fluid as young saplings stirring in the wind. Even a foal learning how to use her legs can be elegant.

When I leaped off that rail and into the horses' pastures, as I often did, I galloped with grace and purpose. I could run with the breezes, or stand still and feel them skim over my flesh. I could bounce out a rhythm or roll down a hill. I could swing my hair, and it would wave in my trot like a long, flowing tail. I learned all this -- and more -- from horses. I saw that when a horse moves across the open field, it's as if she's following the call of a voice in the air. Her head rises, her ears prick forward to receive a message in horse frequency, and her nostrils open to catch sensory signals drifting by. She doesn't use her tongue to respond; she pushes out feral answers from the hollow between her ribs. At times, all four of her great limbs leave the ground in a display of perfect suspension -- one hoof coming down, followed by another and another and another until all have touched earth just long enough to renew the effortless cycle. She gains ground but without need for anything more than stirring the air and enjoying a good talk with her universe. When I moved in the way my herd moved, I felt in my legs the same balance and rhythm and coordination I saw in theirs and I strained toward the voices they heeded. I gained fluency in a body language my own small body was not born knowing but which it longed to speak. In the fields, I listened to the way the horses cleared their nostrils when grazing and called to each other in whispered rumbles of affection or squealed with joy or warning. This was the language of my herd, and I studied it as diligently as I studied my other language, the one of my family. I became good at whinnying, snorting, and delivering those sounds, and the horses learned my voice.

Occasionally they included me in their play. They would nibble at my ankles or rub their flanks against my own knobby knees. When I poked my head through the openings between the planks and extended my arm forward, curious foals came to smell my hand. After they got to know me and recognize my scent, they came even closer -- nuzzling my head and trying to take a taste of my pigtails. I giggled at the feel of their busy lips on my head and their warm breath on my neck.

A horse's acceptance remains one of my earliest memories of belonging. While I struggled to find who I was and would be as a person, horses gave me my first intimation of what acceptance and belonging could feel like.

. . . .

This baby arrived amid a herd of horses, horses of different colors.

White horses ride in on the breath of the wind. White horses from the east where plants of golden chamisa shimmer in the moonlight.

She arrived amid a herd of horses. Blue horses enter from the south bringing the scent of prairie grasses from the small hills outside.
. . . .

She arrived amid a herd of horses.

Black horses came from the north. They are the lush summers of Montana and still white winters of Idaho.

Chamisa, Chamisa Bah. It is all this that you are. You will grow: laughing, crying, and we will celebrate each change you live.

You will grow strong like the horses of your past. You will grow strong like the horses of your birth.

-- By Luci Tapahonso Blue Horses Rush In
For Chamisa Bah Edmo, Shisoi 'alathathjith 'naaghigii

When I was a girl of six, I thought I was the only girl-horse in the land and the broodmares and offspring of Hartland my only herd. Now I know horses touch the souls of many women.

Horses are giant yet generous with their strength, their power, and their gentle affection. By their very natures, they embody and resolve the contradictions we all struggle with: They are strong and soft, calm and driven, wild and manageable, needy and independent. In the presence of horses, our impulses of nurturing and our urgent needs of support, strength, and confidence come together, live together, and express themselves together without the noise of intellectualism. We see that the horse lives its own life, speaks in its own way, moves where it needs to go. Its directness and simplicity offer a thousand-pound counterpoint to our own complicated and often less-honest human interactions. The horse shows us how to be complete.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Mary D. Midkiff is the creator of Women and Horses, an equestrian fitness program. She has been conducting presentations and clinics around the world for the past ten years. She is also the president of Equestrian Resources, a marketing film specializing in the promotion of show, sport, and recreational horse activities. She is the author of Fitness, Performance, and the Female Equestrian, and lives in Boulder, Colorado.

From the Hardcover edition.

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She Flies Without Wings: How Horses Touch a Woman's Soul 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to all horse lovers. The author writes with such compassion it makes you not want to put the book down. You can relate to everything that she say¿s about horses and how they actually touch one¿s soul. Reading this book has made me look at my horse and horse¿s in a whole new way. You can understand some of the things that they do and what they are doing it for! You don¿t realize the little things about horse's until you read this book! To everyone one that reads this book... Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and highly recommend this book to all horse lovers. I learned alot myself about horses that I did not know when I read this book. It was an amazing story of a woman's love for horses.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really hit home for me, putting into words what I feel everyday. Each chapter intricately intertwines many outside sources and the personal experiences of Mary to create an absorbing account of how horses touch our lives in ways we don't notice. I couldn't put it down and will definitely read it again. A must read for all horsewomen, your horse will thank you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is truly one of the best stories i have read. It hits so close to home. I will always remember phrases and moments in the book, and carry them with me forever. Horses are wonderous creatures that that can heal a woman in every way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I read it while I was on Vacation, and couldn't hardly put it down. I really enjoyed this book, and I encourage anyone who loves horses to read it. It's truely and amazing story of a woman's love of horses.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is the most beautiful and inspiring book i have read. Its a book you dont want to put down but you dont want it to end. i have learnt so much and i am know approching my Horse with a new breath of life and understanding
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm back but locked out of like every book i have ever posted in....- ebonypride
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She gins~Hollypaw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Oh, thank you!" Amberspirit meowed joyfully.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the book. Everything that she was talking about was great and it made sense.When I saw something that was really good inspiration or advice I marked it in the book so I could came back to it and read that part again. Highly recommended for people who have or want anything to do with horses.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beautiful. Mary expressed in words what my heart says about horses. Reading her book helped me realize there are women out there like me-horse crazy for 35 years! It also pleases me beyond words that our sweet, brave, tolerant friends are valued so highly, as they deserve.