I looked forward to reading this book as I’m a believer in the premise that animals and humans are able to bond in a way that enriches the lives of both. Horses, being prey animals that rely on an innate ability to read the emotions of other creatures, are especially sensitive to such cues and many caring people have built strong friendships with them. Sue Spence mentions some of these in this book and she can be counted among their number.
As a child, Sue found that her interaction with horses could settle her into a calm state that banished upsets and problems temporarily. Her sensitivity enabled her to read the horse’s state of mind and to engage with the animal in a way which, over time, developed into a deep and mutual friendship. This aspect of her personality countered the energy she brought to other activities as she grew into adulthood, an energy that was so frenetic it brought her, several times, to the brink of disaster. With greater knowledge and understanding of herself, Sue was able to use her remarkable talent to engage on a very deep level with both animals and humans to create an enterprise which teaches disadvantaged youth, among others, how to engage and grow and communicate.
This is more than a narrative of a life with its ups and downs. It is an inspiring account of a person discovering herself, her strengths and weaknesses, and using these discoveries to live a life of compassion and empathy. It is a book that should be on the top of the list of intended reads for those who love horses as well as those who would like to know how to live their lives more fully.
Sue has written an account of her life to date which captures her personality so well I felt that I had been in a conversation with her rather than reading her words on a page. I enjoyed it immensely, so much so that I wish I could get to know Sue better. She is the kind of person who makes a good friend, both of humans and of animals. And she has the skills to show us how to be a friend in return.
Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra
Horses Who Heal
by Sue Spence
Published by Macmillan