Horse Crazy by Jean Halley

Pony books for horse crazy girls are an incredible genre.  I write within this genre in the twenty first century, having both a series for middle grade readers as well as one for young adult readers.  I also write various novels for adult horse book fans and find that all of these books are read, though the middle grade series is the most read.  And it seems this has been the case for many young girls since the 1930s, as Jean Halley’s book Horse Crazy explores.

How the horse-girl relationship can empower children, young adults and even adults is explored throughout the chapters of Halley’s book.  What I found alarming – and cannot say that I relate to here in Australia – is the large amount of women that appear to struggle in the US and find their freedom often in horses.  Horses are an incredible animal that provide freedom to those who struggle with disability, a lack of social skills, language barriers or other issues.

I was surprised to find that Halley was referencing or quoting texts that put women as more likely to fall into poverty than men in the US.  There was reference to them earning 79 cents for every dollar than men earned.  And for the single mother, life was harder as she worked to earn for, support and keep the family functioning.

Horse Crazy by Jean O'Malley Halley | Equus Education (Click to buy)
Horse Crazy by Jean O’Malley Halley | Equus Education (Click to buy)

I’m not sure if it’s my ignorance in these areas in Australia, or if this is a more wide-spread issue in the US.  But one thing is certain; horses can provide a freedom from these responsibilities and problems like no other thing can.  That was the theme throughout this book.

This book explores the frailties of humanity and shows how horses can be an escape from that.

Halley pulls examples from her own life where her childhood was filled with fear and violence and her pony was her only escape.  In the latter chapters of her book, the devastating world of slaughterhouses and the process involved is explored.  This was an eye opener for me with regards to the process carried out… the book is perhaps lightened well in the final thoughts focusing on men who love ponies and a group of adult men known as ‘bronies’ who love My Little Pony.

Horse Crazy is a topic that has horses well and truly at the heart of peoples’ lives and things that they hold dear.  It is a book that appears to address a lot of issues that many may not be willing to think or talk about.  I feel very blessed – and perhaps sheltered – as a tomboy who grew up loving horses to not have felt like a minority or someone who was being pushed to conform to what society considered ‘acceptable.’  To me, a love of horses has been a gift from God and one that was encouraged throughout my childhood, became my career and is something I am now involved in teaching others who have the same passion.  Horse Crazy is an interesting, somewhat controversial and enlightening read.

Author – Jean O’Malley Halley
Non Fiction – sociology
In my library – as an eBook