For the Good of the Horse


By Mary Wanless, 1997, Trafalgar Square Publishing

ISBN 1-57076-083-7

Remember when you first went to a new school where you changed classrooms for each subject? Maybe you felt a little uncomfortable, watching the older students confidently striding from one hall to another, knowing all the "secrets" of the place and perhaps, not being too quick to share them. If you've ever felt at a loss to understand the subtleties of a new situation, or felt a little left out because you haven't yet experienced all the different aspects of a new interest, you would appreciate having a resource like For the Good of the Horse to familiarize you and give you a firm foundation on which to build.

Mary Wanless has done extensive research and spent countless hours studying horses and riders, speaking with farriers and saddlers, veterinarians and homeopathic practitioners, and numerous others in a successful attempt to shed light on many controversial topics. From initial training of horses (and their owners) to the ongoing concerns of shoeing, saddling and health care, Mary explains the controversies, trying to be impartial while giving examples of the most effective methods, and even explaining a bit about where the proponents of the controversies developed their ideas. Like the trainers she describes in her book, Wanless offers the reader the information in the most informative possible manner, and allows you to understand and accept the same conclusions she has drawn. Her conclusions can all be summed up by the title of her book.

For the Good of the Horse is just that - a comprehensive study of horses, their care and nurturing, and suggestions that are all intended to re-map your way of thinking about equines. She even explains that our expectations are often colored by our own lives and the traditions handed down to us intentionally or subconsciously by those who have gone before. The principles of homeopathic medicine and other "new age" style methods of treatment are explained and documented and the reader is reminded subtly that any significantly evolved technology would most likely be perceived as magic by one who didn't yet understand it. Looking back at the history of human medicine, it has not been so long since the concept of bacterial infection was laughed at by those who considered themselves most educated in medical practice. Time and the proof of repeated successes are demonstrating that what were once considered strange or mythical beliefs are in fact beneficial treatment modes.

This book is written in a comfortable, familiar, voice which encourages you to read it all, even though it could also be considered a reference to be referred to frequently for specific needs. Wanless has done a very fair and informative job of encouraging anyone who loves and/or works with horses to consider the horse as a whole being, not just a set of hooves, muscles, bones, and "horsonality" strung together. As with humans, only by considering the whole creature can any overall problems be solved. Wanless provides many avenues of exploration for the horse owner or professional to consider, and offers equines in general a much happier existence, once the principles are accepted. It is a recommended resource for not only the beginning horse enthusiast, but for anyone who loves horses and wishes to ensure that the care they receive is indeed designed to be for their own good.

Lynn Carrick