Falling for Eli by Nancy Shulins. Publisher: Da Capo (May 2012). Memoir/pets. Paperback. 272 pages. 978-0-7382-1527-3.
“Arduous though it is, dressage has its hooks in me right from the start, with its promise of a seamless, harmonious connection between a quiet, balanced rider and her calm, obedient horse.”
In my youth—from childhood through high school—I rode horses and competed in three-phase events [dressage, eventing and stadium jumping] as well as in horse shows. In short I was an accomplished equestrian. I rode year-round sometimes on two and three-hour-long trail rides. I took lessons, attended clinics, belonged to pony club and 4-H.
Former AP writer Nancy Shulins failed to get pregnant in her late 30s as she’d hoped. The unsuccessful fertility treatments proved heartbreaking especially surrounded by her friends’ and neighbors’ babies and children. She needed to divert her attention from not being able to get pregnant and a friend suggested she visit a barn because she’d liked horses when she was younger. She soon became quite involved in the stable and fell in love with a young horse which she purchased and named Eli.
A novice at horse ownership, she boarded at a fancy barn in Connecticut with an indoor and live-in manager and used a trainer. Her horse Eli, a thoroughbred, taught her quite a bit. Unfortunately an unschooled [or “green”] horse and inexperienced rider aren’t always the best combination. Shulins learned how to ride dressage– a disciplined form of riding which incorporates posture, movements and precision. Sadly, Eli got sick and hurt about five times. I’m not sure why when she took such impeccable care for him. When you care for a horse, you invest as much time and energy as you would in caring for a child. If you do it right and Shulins certainly proves so in Falling for Eli.
Shulins utilizes her journalistic skills to provide plenty of well-researched information on horses and thoroughbreds. It’s an easy-to-read memoir for any animal lover. Plus if you’re lacking in equine knowledge, Shulins simply explains everything. Horse lovers will particularly appreciate it. My mom enjoys reading anything horse related and thought that Shulins provided interesting facts, particularly about thoroughbreds.