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Review: Horses in Translation

Disclosure: When you click on a book link I share, I may receive a small commission off your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Horses in Translation is Sharon Wilsie’s second book on the language of horses. I originally picked up this book because the title has two things that I love in life: horses and translation. (Did you know that my other day job is to translate documents?) I didn’t really know what I had picked up, but understanding quickly dawned on me when I saw the breadth of knowledge contained in each chapter.

I’ve picked up and put down this book quite a bit over the last few months. Initially, I thought that this book would be an easy and entertaining read, but it required thought, assimilation and practice to truly understand and adopt. I felt that I was back to reading textbooks! I took notes and came back to concepts that I hadn’t understood. During the times I put down the book, I would take a good long look at my little herd of 3 in my paddock and try to identify the behaviours Sharon Wilsie wrote about extensively.  

What I loved

I loved the details she goes into, including rider and horse biomechanics, what to look for, and insightful use cases. Sharon writes about the different buttons (areas that horses use to communicate with each other) and how each is used. She discusses the different levels of horse speak a little bit like the dating game from greeting to goodbye. 

I also appreciated the fact that she suggests giving horses time to think and react to things, instead of expecting an instant reaction like a computer. I’ve always preferred to give my horses time to think as long as it didn’t result in an explosive reaction. Sharon discusses the differences between freezing and thinking. This was a lightbulb moment for me as I trust my mare to think about this, but I don’t trust my gelding to do the same. I had learned this the hard way though. Now, I see the difference and can help my big boy work through moments like these without him being so explosive.

I liked how well this book was written. It has a beautiful flow. Despite the technical speak, it was easy to read and visualize what the author is sharing. 

What I disliked

The one thing I found that impacted the book’s readability is how often the use cases of the second part referred back to the same series of pages in the first part, such as page 42. When you pick up this book, bookmark this page. It is referenced often and throughout the book.

Favourite parts

  • Chapter 4: It was by far my favourite one thanks to the engaging content and thoughtful introspection. 
  • Chapter 8: The Horse on the Hill – this story about Marty the horse was one of my favourites. It showed the depth of understanding that comes with listening to the horse but also the herd.

Quote

Horse Speak is the conversation you can maintain before, during, and after whatever kind of “work” you want to do with a horse.

(last part of Chapter 8 – Kobo won’t tell me what the page is!)

About the Author

Sharon Wilsie has made a professional career as a horse trainer/rehabilitation specialist, intercollegiate coach, and riding instructor and has developed and implemented several programs over the last decade, including; volunteer training groups for horse rescues and therapeutic riding centers, Equine Assisted Learning course at Landmark College, as well as hundreds of workshops, seminars, and engagements in a variety of topics about Equine Facilitated Therapies, alternative training and rehabilitation methods for difficult horses and horses with PTSD. 

Here is her Facebook Page linked to her first book, Horse Speak

Conclusion

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to deepen their relationship with their horse and their understanding of horse communication. I enjoyed the pace, depth of knowledge, and insightful use cases. So I’ll be picking up her first book, Horse Speak, and reviewing it as well! 

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