The best books about horses healing humans

Who am I?

I’ve loved horses for as long as I can remember and have been blessed to have them woven into the fabric of my life. They’ve taught me a great deal about myself, and the time I’ve spent with them has often included the company of humans. I’ve seen teens whispering heartaches into a horse’s ear, special needs people lighting up like the sun at the touch of a horse, others simply standing quietly near them, soaking in their presence, and much more. I’ve witnessed the benefits of equine-assisted therapy, both physical and emotional, and hope horses and humans long continue to thrive in the kinship of our relationship.  


I wrote...

Coming Back

By K.L. Denman,

Book cover of Coming Back

What is my book about?

Julie survived a horrific car accident, but she has no memory of the event or the boyfriend who was with her in the car. He disappeared, and she is diagnosed with PTSD. Her doctor recommends a therapy animal, and Julie chooses to get a horse. Julie's experience with horses is limited, but it's empowering to finally be involved in life again, and her symptoms abate. 

However, she has a lot to learn, and when the riding coach gives confusing lessons, Julie is thrown off balance, both emotionally and in the saddle. The improvement she'd begun to experience with PTSD symptoms is lost, and her nightmares return. When Julie’s horse is also traumatized, can Julie and her horse recover and heal their broken spirits?

The books I picked & why

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Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Book cover of Black Beauty

Why this book?

I first read Black Beauty when I was around nine years old and remember crying my way through much of it. This was the first book I’d read that had such an impact and it’s fitting that in the Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, Bernard Unti called Black Beauty "the most influential anti-cruelty novel of all time." It's connected to my book because cruelty to horses persists, and this classic voice sparks deep empathy as it speaks for animal welfare. 

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Black Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Continuously in print and translated into multiple languages since it was first published, Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is a classic work of children's literature and an important text in the fields of Victorian studies and animal studies. Writing to ""induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment"", Sewell realistically documents the working conditions of Black Beauty, who moves down the social scale from a rural carriage horse to a delivery horse in London. Sewell makes visible and tangible the experience of animals who were often treated as if they were machines. Though she died shortly after it was published, Sewell's book…


Riding Home: The Power of Horses to Heal

By Tim Hayes,

Book cover of Riding Home: The Power of Horses to Heal

Why this book?

Subtitled The Power of Horses to Heal, I found this book both well-told and informative. Hayes’ knowledge of horses and his in-depth research into equine-assisted therapy took me back to the time I spent volunteering at a therapeutic riding stable. It was a joy to witness the positive effects, both mental and physical, that the horses had on the riders. Hayes’ book explains “why horses have this remarkable ability to heal and positively transform emotionally wounded men, women, and children.” 

Riding Home: The Power of Horses to Heal

By Tim Hayes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Riding Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout history, people have loved, owned and ridden horses. They fascinate us, and we are drawn to books like The Horse Whisperer, events like The Kentucky Derby, and movies like Steven Spielberg's War Horse. Owners and non-horse owners alike have also discovered the amazing abilities of horses to help us heal and recover from disabling physical and mental conditions such as autism and multiple sclerosis by participating in Equine Therapy. Men and women afflicted with severe emotional damage are healing and making dramatic recoveries by receiving the simple love, understanding and acceptance that comes from establishing a relationship with a…


The Tao of Equus: A Woman's Journey of Healing and Transformation Through the Way of the Horse

By Linda Kohanov,

Book cover of The Tao of Equus: A Woman's Journey of Healing and Transformation Through the Way of the Horse

Why this book?

A Woman’s Journey of Healing & Transformation through the Way of the Horse. I was enthralled with Kohanov’s story of how she awakened to the spiritual presence of horses, and her research, along with the connections she made to mythology, was fascinating. When I read this book, I had two horses and an elderly mule, and while I’d always felt the emotional peace that comes from a horse’s presence, I was inspired to explore that more deeply and appreciate the spiritual connections they generate. 

The Tao of Equus: A Woman's Journey of Healing and Transformation Through the Way of the Horse

By Linda Kohanov,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Tao of Equus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do horses make choices? How do they seem to know what people are thinking and feeling? Are horses spiritual beings with a destiny all their own? If so, how is this destiny connected with humanity's future? How does the equine mind compare with the human mind? What do horses have to teach people? And why are women so attracted to horses?

These are some of the questions writer and equine therapist Linda Kohanov explores in her extraordinary book The Tao of Equus. In it she intertwines the story of the spiritual awakening she experienced with her black mare Rasa with…


Chosen by a Horse

By Susan Richards,

Book cover of Chosen by a Horse

Why this book?

I found this memoir about rescuing a starved and abused mare an honest and touching account of a healing journey for both horse and human. Richards’ experience of the non-judgmental, forgiving nature of the mare she takes in brings her profound insight. She says, “In a crazy way, it felt like Lay Me Down (the rescue horse) had been taking care of me since I got her…  By her gentle affection, I felt restored to the status of someone who mattered, someone who was needed.” These sentiments are at the heart of the book and have been felt by many who have experienced the healing presence of horses.   

Chosen by a Horse

By Susan Richards,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Chosen by a Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When she agrees to take on one of the abused horses just rescued by the local SPCA, a new chapter opens in Susan Richards's difficult life.

She lost her mother at the age of five and was raised by uncaring relatives; she married unhappily and divorced; and she'd been an alcoholic. Now, at the age of forty-three, she lives with three horses who keep her company: the diva-like Georgia, boyish Tempo and hopelessly romantic Hotshot.

While trying to capture another horse assigned to her, Lay Me Down, a skeletal mare, walks into Susan's horse trailer of her own volition. When…


Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries

By Isa Leshko,

Book cover of Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries

Why this book?

This beautiful photography book is deeply moving. Subtitled Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries, it was inspired by Leshko’s encounter with Petey, a 34-year-old Appaloosa horse. His aged body was the first of the photos for this collection; all are quietly magnificent. They drew me into contemplation of both the plight of farm animals and Leshko’s personal quest to accept aging; she hopes to face her own eventual decline “with the same grace and stoicism the animals have shown.” I’ve spent time volunteering at an animal sanctuary, and have a special connection to Ruby, a Standardbred mare who turned 30 in April 2022. She had a hard life, and her age shows in the hollows over her eyes and her grizzled cheeks, but it’s immeasurably comforting to know she will live out her remaining days in dignity. 

Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries

By Isa Leshko,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Allowed to Grow Old as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's nothing quite like a relationship with an aged pet-a dog or cat who has been at our side for years, forming an ineffable bond. Pampered pets, however, are a rarity among animals who have been domesticated. Farm animals, for example, are usually slaughtered before their first birthday. We never stop to think about it, but the typical images we see of cows, chickens, pigs, and the like are of young animals. What would we see if they were allowed to grow old?

Isa Leshko shows us, brilliantly, with this collection of portraits. To create these portraits, she spent hours…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in horses, New York State, and New York City?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about horses, New York State, and New York City.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like War Horse, The Eighty-Dollar Champion, and Distant Skies if you like this list.