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Book Review: The Soul Of A Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd by Joe Camp

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“He’s a prey animal, they had said. A freaky flight animal that can flip from quiet and thoughtful to wild and reactive in a single heartbeat.” And so begins the journey of a man and a horse that would change each ones life forever. This journey actually began a few weeks earlier when Joe Camp’s wife Kathleen bought him a surprise birthday gift: a trail ride. Two weeks later they owned three horses.

While you may not know Joe Camp, you probably know of Joe Camp’s films that began with Benji. In that movie, and the ones that followed, he showed us the heart and the soul of a dog. Now, in The Soul Of A Horse, he unlocks the mystery of a majestic creature that has survived on earth for over 55 million years – all without the assistance of man.

After getting into the world of horses, Camp found there were a lot of things that were wrong with it. One of the first things is that under the care of humans, horses have a life expectancy half that of their running free counterparts. Worse, most people don’t even know that they are causing undue stress and degrading their health by the way that they relate to and keep their horses.

The Soul Of A Horse comes to us through three distinct perspectives. First, through the thoughts of the author’s favorite horse, Cash, he explains the reality of the horse-human interaction. Second is from the perspective of Joe and Kathleen Camp. Here you learn about two novices who try to search for the truth about living and interacting with horses. Finally, it is about a herd of wild mustangs; an imaginary tale that takes place on the plains of Nevada, tracking back to the sixteenth century Spain, then returning again to the present.

According to The Soul Of A Horse, there is no difference between a horse today and a horse from 10,000 years ago, other than man had begun to use them as beasts of burden, riding animals, and companions. In this time, few people have attempted to really understand the horse as a living being. Finding the answers to these questions became the mission of this book and of Joe Camp.

The understanding began with a book and a DVD from Monty Roberts. Roberts is the author of The Man Who Listens to Horses, the book that inspired the Robert Redford movie, The Horse Whisperer. The DVD was one of Roberts “Join-up” demonstrations where he instructs how to get the horse to join-up with the human and acknowledge the human as herd leader.

The Soul Of A Horse takes this information and presents it to the reader in an easy to understand guide to the equine psyche. Once you understand that by nature the horse is prey and the human is predator, then you will begin to understand better how to relate to a horse and get the horse to better relate to you.

I found The Soul Of A Horse an absolutely wonderful book that is not only easy to read, it is also very hard to put down. I own three horses and know exactly what he is talking about with regard to horses and their personalities. I know of those who keep horses on acreages in which they can run and live as a herd, and I know of those whose horses are stressed out living in the 12 x 12 cell segmented off from the herd. If you want to look intoThe Soul Of A Horse, I highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
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