ONE OF USA TODAY'S "20 SUMMER BOOKS YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS" In the bestselling tradition of works by such authors as Susan Orlean and Mary Roach, a New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist explores why so many people--including herself--are obsessed with horses. It may surprise you to learn that there are over seven million horses in America--even more than when they were the only means of transportation--and nearly two million horse owners. Acclaimed journalist and avid equestrian Sarah Maslin Nir is one of them; she began riding horses when she was just two years old and hasn't stopped since. Horse Crazy is a fascinating, funny, and moving love letter to these graceful animals and the people who--like her--are obsessed with them. It is also a coming-of-age story of Nir growing up an outsider within the world's most elite inner circles, and finding her true north in horses. Nir takes readers into the lesser-known corners of the riding world and profiles some of its most captivating figures. We meet Monty Roberts, the California trainer whose prowess earned him the nickname "the man who listens to horses," and his pet deer; George and Ann Blair, who at their riding academy on a tiny island in Manhattan's Harlem River seek to resurrect the erased legacy of the African American cowboy; and Francesca Kelly, whose love for an Indian nobleman shaped her life's mission: to protect an endangered Indian breed of horse and bring them to America. Woven into these compelling character studies, Nir shares her own moving personal narrative. She details her father's harrowing tale of surviving the Holocaust, and describes an enchanted but deeply lonely upbringing in Manhattan, where horses became her family. She found them even in the middle of the city, in a stable disguised in an old townhouse and in Central Park, when she chased down truants as an auxiliary mounted patrol officer. And she speaks candidly of how horses have helped her overcome heartbreak and loss. Infused with heart and wit, and with each chapter named after a horse Nir has loved, Horse Crazy is an unforgettable blend of beautifully written memoir and first-rate reporting.
- ISBN-13: 9781501196232
- ISBN-10: 1501196235
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publish Date: August 2020
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Page Count: 304
Horses have always been the salvation of Sarah Maslin Nir, who grew up having “the conversations with horses I longed to have with my family.” She felt like an outcast both at home and at her tony Upper East Side prep school, where, she says, “my accomplishments with horses were not currency of value to my high-pressure, high-power mother and father; horses weren’t Harvard degrees or newspaper bylines.”
With horses as her anchor, Nir eventually earned more than stellar bylines. As a New York Times reporter, she became a Pulitzer finalist for her yearlong investigation into New York City’s nail salon industry. Now, in Horse Crazy: The Story of a Woman and a World in Love With an Animal, she turns the investigative lens on herself, exploring why she and so many others share this equine obsession. Not surprisingly, her writing is energetic, exquisite and enthralling enough to appeal to both horse fanatics and more casual readers alike.
Reminiscent of Susan Orlean’s ‘The Library Book’ in its fascinating examination of a singular topic, this is an expertly crafted, wrenchingly honest memoir.
With chapters named after important horses in her life, Nir traces a love affair that began at age 2, when family lore has it that her parents put her on a horse in an attempt to get their frenetic little girl to sit still. Her Jewish father had escaped the Holocaust by posing as a Catholic child in Poland and later became chief of child psychiatry at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, among his many other accomplishments. Her psychologist mom became a TV personality, chatting with Oprah and co-writing books with her husband. With such busy parents and half brothers who resented her very existence, Nir turned to horses in both loneliness and awe.
As a city kid, Nir’s horseback riding experiences were far from typical. She honed her skills at Claremont Riding Academy, a vertical four-story stable in the heart of Manhattan where horses and riders trudge up and down ramps between riding rings and stalls. In high school, Nir served a stint as a mounted patrol officer in Central Park. Seamlessly woven among these personal accounts are a variety of additional narratives, such as Nir’s trip to watch the annual pony penning at Assateague Island, Virginia, a chat with horse whisperer Monty Roberts and a mind-blowing horse show for plastic Breyer horses. Nir wears her heart on her sleeve for anything equine-related but also keeps it real, admitting she tries hard “to avoid cat lady status when it comes to horses.”
A series of accidents, broken bones and chronic pain hasn’t kept Nir away from riding, which she says is discounted as an extreme sport because its participants are predominantly female. “I’ll never stop,” she writes. “I’m extreme too.” For her, the sport creates “an interspecies bridge that . . . leaves the two halves greater than a whole.”
Reminiscent of Susan Orlean’s The Library Book in its fascinating examination of a singular topic, Horse Crazy is an expertly crafted, wrenchingly honest memoir.