Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, genealogy and family history, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Hard Way to Go: Book Review

Recently I received an advanced reader copy of NC Matheny's new book, Hard Way to Go: The Horse of a LifetimeThe book got a cat scan from Charlotte before I read it.

Charlotte: "Mommy got a book to review. It's about a big animal."

I was delighted to see that the horse on the cover looked very similar to my Tennessee Walker, Melody Sundance, who died in 2017 at age 27. I'd had her since she was nearly six. Here's a painting of her:

After I'd read a few chapters into the book, I learned they had an ancestor in common—Midnight Sun, a two-time World Grand Champion and a major sire of Tennessee Walkers. No wonder they looked so similar. 

From the cover, I thought that the book would be just a basic horse story, but it was actually a memoir about Matheny's life with horses, his "horse of a lifetime," setbacks he'd overcome, his faith, and his missions to Honduras. Here's info from the back cover:

Matheny had been involved with horses since he was a child—his father had grown up with horses and owned several, including a Tennessee Walker mare and some carriage horses. One day in 1998, Matheny and his father stopped at a barn where he saw a 3-week-old orphaned foal called "Trouble." Matheny ended up buying the foal with plans to pick him up soon, but a storm and ensuing flood changed his plans. When he returned two weeks later, the foal was in bad shape. However, with vet care and nursing, Trouble survived.  A friend suggeted changing Trouble's name because "he will adhere to whatever his name is," so Trouble became Casey. Matheny had a hard time coming up with a proper registed name for Casey because most of the names he'd submitted had already been used. Finally "Hard Way to Go," was approved as Casey's registered name. 

There were indeed many hard ways to go throughout Casey's life. Casey suffered from health problems, among them numerous allergies, testicular cancer and several bouts of colic—one requiring serious surgery. Mathey also had some health problems, including a fall from a ladder that resulted in broken wrists and ribs. Despite overwhelming problems, Matheny's faith never wavered.

While it was hard for Matheny to leave Casey, he nevertheless went on three missions trips to Honduras—two to help people with health problems and one to help provide veterinary help to animals. Several chapters detail the work he did there and how he shared his faith.

It was a plus that the book included some pictures. My favorite was of him riding Casey bareback. Because of Casey's health problems and Matheny's previously injured wrists, he rode Casey only six times in the 22 years he owned him. 

While Hard Way to Go: The Horse of a Lifetime included interesting vignettes of NC Matheny's life with Casey, I wish he'd included more details.  For instance, I would have liked a chapter or two about the steps in Natural Horsemanship he used to train Casey. 

Charlotte and Claudine give the book a final cat scan.

If you enjoy memoirs of people who devote themselves to the horse of their dreams, this book will probably appeal to you. 

If you know someone who dreams about owning a horse but knows little about about how hard it can be to care for a horse, you might give them this book. It is cerainly an eye-opener about some of the problems a horse might encounter—and the time, effort, and expense a horse owner will need to deal with those problems.  

Hard Way to Go: the Horse of a Lifetime is available in paperback from Amazon. Alas, no e-book version is available at this time.

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