Telling your storiesfrom the stables to the fields

Book Reviews
13 May,2019

Many Brave Fools by Susan E Conley

Book Review – Louise Broderick

Published by Trafalgar Square

Many Brave Fools is a strange mix. The book compares the author’s efforts to learn to ride with her dependency on her addict husband. While I ended up wishing the book focused solely on either, the story as a whole it does work. The parts of the book which discuss Conley’s relationship and its breakdown are linked to her efforts to learn to ride. However, it was the parts of the book, pertaining to Conley’s attraction to horses and her initial riding experience, which I enjoyed the most.

It is unusual for someone to learn to ride as an adult. Conley decided to start at 42, despite never having any experience of horses in the past. It is learning to ride, battling her fear and mastering the skill that gave her back the confidence she had lost during her relationship.

The challenge of learning to ride, while presumably just as difficult for a child, is rarely described to us. Using often humorous language Conley writes about that challenge. Despite being terrified she was compelled to travel from the heart of Dublin, via bus and foot to the stables where she took her lessons. This in itself shows how determined she was, and how, like most of us with horses, was utterly hooked and would do anything for that equestrian fix.

Riding teaches us to just be, do too much and everything becomes stressed and awkward. Conley took the lessons she learned from riding and used them to help her with her toxic relationship.

During the course of the book Conley goes from being a novice rider, who has never been on a horse before, to one who is competent enough to jump a course of fences. Often, experienced riders will automatically adjust to their horse’s moods and personality, but for an outsider this is a whole new area to get used to. We do it without thinking, but for an experienced rider it is fascinating to read Conely’s experiences, learning to adjust to each horse. Her determination not only to ride, but to ride the difficult horses, the ones she was afraid of, and to keep getting back on after falling, which shows the side of her personality which perhaps made her stick with her addict husband long after most of us would have called it quits.

The book discusses learning to ride, right from the beginning, how it feels for a complete novice. It makes wonderful reading to see how the author develops her skills and become a competent rider.

The book is beautifully written. I felt I was with Conley every step of the way, experienced her delight at her equestrian achievement and her pride at having ridded herself of her co-dependency on her husband. Horses help in so many ways, and that this experience could make such a change in her life is a wonderful testament to both her dedication to riding and to the wonderful horses who continue to fascinate us all.

To purchase a copy of Many Brave Fools please visit Quiller Publishing


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