The best books about horses healing humans

The Books I Picked & Why

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest

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. 


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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.” 


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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. 


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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.   


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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. 


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