Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Book Review: back to Reference World

I've been fictionally focused for a while. My how-tos for horse owners books have been gathering dust (and thankfully, so have the vet books), so this week I thought it might be time to get back to basics.

I've found that as with most topics, anytime I read a new nonfiction horse book I learn something new. Whether it's presented in a way I hadn't thought about, I encounter a new topic, or I have a new frame of reference that makes whatever stands out relevant to me, there's at least some crumb of information that makes me go....Hmmmmm.... hadn't thought of that.

In today's book, it was the brief section on choke (p.63) that clicked a lightbulb in my head. Choke occurs when a horse's esophagus is blocked - usually by food. It features symptoms such as coughing, retching with the head & neck extended, and sometimes mucus & food being expelled from the horse's nose. If it's as painful to experience as it is to watch, it HURTS. An incident this last fall that involved several of the horses, pelleted feed, and a call to the (unfortunately unavailable) horse vet was, I think, choke and not gas colic as the vet speculated at the time.... In any case, today's book is:

Seasons of the Horse: a practical guide to year-round equine care by Jackie Budd
This solid guide to horse care poses questions for consideration and presents various options for those who are new to horse keeping, or are considering undertaking horse ownership for the first time. Although it is probably intended more for novice horse owners, it has a lot of useful information for experienced horse folks, as well, and would probably be a profitable read for young adults and their parents before jumping in to the horse-owning pool.

Although definitely British in origin - Budd is an equestrian journalist, trainer & professional competitor in Southern Wales - there are lots of references to common practices in the United States, as well. Treatment of each topic isn't overly detailed, and may prompt additional questions you'll need to follow up elsewhere. This isn't a fluffy, cutesy, let's dress our ponies up in matching pink leggings type of book. Sober and serious, but still interesting, this is an excellent first stop on the way to owning your first horse.
One quibble I do have with the book concerns the illustrations. While the majority are great, the full page spread that opens Chapter 11 would definitely get the photographer highlighted on FHOTD for child endangerment. A grinning, shorts clad little girl is parked on the back of a halterless grazing horse with not an adult near by (except the one taking the picture, I guess).

Both horse & child appear quite content - but it's probably not the safest situation. (Although hey, I was once that little girl - okay, not THAT little girl, but you know what I mean - and I survived.) There are also lots of helmetless riders pictured - plenty with proper headwear, too, though - and a couple of other no-nos that didn't hit the cutting room floor are scattered here and there.

But on the whole, it's a useful, practical text that lives up to the promise in the title. Given the recent (2007) publication date, this one is probably going to be a fairly easy find, if you're interested in tracking it down.

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