Book Review: Horses Adored and Men Endured – A memoir of falling and getting back up by Susan Friedland
Reviewed by Lisa Graham-Peterson
If you were at all wondering what you’d find between the covers of this book, look no further than the title. There are no secret themes, but there are plenty of characters – human and equine – expertly chronicled in this life journey by Susan Friedland. Taking 10 years (and troughs of tears) to write, Horses Adored and Men Endured is the “horse lover’s dating memoir” according to the author.
And what a memoir.
Before you think this is some fairy tale of tails and top hats, it’s not. Friedland’s experience is everyone’s. You may not have exactly the same line-up of disappointing dates, but the personalities are all relatable. Kevin and his orange leather jacket. Steve and prom night down the toilet (literally, food poisoning). Geoff and his crazed ex-girlfriend. Or romantic but elusive, Kolton; they’ll always have Paris. All are men best remembered once they are decidedly in the rearview mirror, or laughter at their memory would be as elusive as Kolton.
If you pick up this book wanting more of horses adored, you’ll get that. Honestly, I felt myself impatient with the chapters that weren’t all about a horse. Not because the book isn’t an engaging read throughout, but because, well, I’m a horse nut. Friedland gets me with the opening sentence: “… if only I could marry a horse.” Tell me your 10-year-old self didn’t also have that thought, however fleeting. Of course, I did not take it as far as the author did and fill a horse “hope chest” but that’s a splendid idea.
As someone who did better at finding friends with horses versus owning one myself, I relished reading through her history of horses. Friedland starts with Penny, the palomino (“… Mr. Ed’s sister.”) and takes us through buying her first horse (Daytona, $1,100!) to losing a lifelong soulmate (DC) and to her current Knight (no shining armor). The equine personalities in between are the “every horse” we can all relate to, as well as our personal evolution from that first ride to wherever we are now.
Take a hint from her title and you’ll get a peek at Friedland’s writing style: straightforward storytelling, a bit cheeky, always honest. Horses Adored and Men Endured also includes Book Club Questions at the end, making it the perfect text to gather around as a group – Zoom or socially distanced – and share this poignant book.
Horses Adored and Men Endured – A memoir of falling and getting back up by Susan Friedland
Paperback : 304 pages
Publisher: Saddle Seeks Horses Press, North Tustin, California
Click HERE to review and/or buy on Amazon
About the Author
Susan Friedland, a full-time middle school teacher, is also an equestrian blogger at Saddle Seeks Horse where she uses her educator’s eye to help the horsey among us learn the latest about our four-legged loves. Her writing has also appeared in Horse Illustrated and Sidelines, to name a few, and she regularly reviews riding-related products on her blog and on her Amazon influencer page. Start with her blog and you’ll be connected to your social media platform of choice to follow her on.
About the Reviewer
Lisa Graham-Peterson ( lisagrahampeterson.com ) is a Minnesota-based writer, editor and university professor. She was grateful to put the dating game behind her even before reading this book, but she is, however, still looking for her four-legged Prince Charming (or Princess). Serious inquiries only.
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