from the "Horse & Rider Magazine" (May 2001)
Review by Honi Roberts
secret; the vast majority of today's equestrians and horse owners
are women. For all of us who've sought out our "hayburners"
to share a moment of triumph or trauma, and marveled at the
exquisite kinship shared-horsewoman and storyteller, Mary D.
Midkiff has penned a gem of a book.
Without Wings, How Horses Touch a Woman's Soul explores
and celebrates the magic that exists between women and their
horses. Midkiff draws from a lifetime of personal experience.
Raised in Bluegrass country, at the knee of her grandfather,
Dan B. Midkiff Sr., an owner and trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses,
she writes, "When I was six, I was a horse." She's
caught me - many a morning, I "loped" my way to school.
And I recall the top trainer who confided that, as a kid, she
drank from horse's buckets, and munched their hay- until one
day some alfalfa stuck in her throat. The vast territory this
girl/woman-horse relationship covers is ripe for exploration,
and Midkiff takes us on a fascinating journey.
horses in Midkiff's life, including her current mare, Theo,
were initially difficult or unresponsive. She recounts how gentle
patience and compassion peel away the barriers to a joy-filled
partnership. Her experience in writing and presenting workshops
on fitness and performance for the female equestrian give an
added depth to her observations. Interviews with both horse
owners and would-be owners round out her anecdotal volume.
like the equine quotations interspersed throughout-from Celtic
lore, to Shakespeare, to Marguerite Henry- that made me feel
a part of the centuries-old magic that connects woman and horse.
Already, a couple have found their way to my bulletin board,
and a few from Midkiff herself will follow. Perhaps this: "I
know horses touch the souls of many women. Horses are giant
yet generous with their strength, their power, and their gentle
affection. By their very nature they embody and resolve the
contradictions we all struggle with: They are strong and soft,
calm and driven, wild and manageable, needy and independent.
We see that the horse lives its own life, speaks in its own
way, moves where it needs to go. Its directness and simplicity
offer a thousand-pound counterpart to our own complicated and
less honest human interactions. The horse shows us how to be
had, or hoped for, the richness and challenge of a horse in
your life, you'll enjoy this book. Experience the magic.