Thursday, April 12, 2012

Horses on Budget: N.L.W. & My Favorite Horse Books

It's National Library Week!
Wait, what's that got to do with horses?

Wouldn't it be nice to easily save enough money to buy a new saddle pad? Hell, considering this economy and the sky-high costs of keeping a horse around, most of us need all the help we can get just staying in the black! So here's the big money-saving tip of the month: Use Your Library

So many people are buying books, cds, dvds, video games, audiobooks, ebooks and magazine subscriptions when they don't need to. The library has all of that, and library cards are free (well, you pay about $30 per year in taxes). My library has FREE wi-fi, Wii games, blue ray movies, ebook and audio downloads, a subscription to the genealogy database Ancestry Library and an exercise class on Mondays. If my library doesn't have a book, video game or movie I want, I can order it delivered to me from any library that does have it, for free, with the online catalog. Did I mention the copying, scanning, faxing, photo-printing, resume help and notary public services? And my library gives away stuff via Facebook trivia games, holds free classes like "Super Coupon Clipping" and has awesome summer activities for kids.

Not all libraries are as cool as mine, but still-- libraries offer a lot. Now let's say you just use the library to check out the one dvd per month you would otherwise have bought. In twelve months, you'd save the price of a saddle.

Yeah, sometimes I do have to wait on the list to read or watch the most popular stuff-- but my library also has a secret New Shelf, where you can snag "hidden" copies reserved for local patrons. Other libraries have cheap rental programs, where you can get a new release for a buck or two. It drives me nuts to see my friends buy books and movies they'll use once.

Not that I'm against buying some stuff. After all, there are some horsey books that I must own, so that I can re-read them over and over, get Neatsfoot oil on the pages and reference them at 5am. I own the basic reference stuff, and all the classics of course (The Black Stallion, etc) but here are my must-own horsey books and movies you may not have heard of! Of course, you'll want to check them out for free at the library before rushing out and buying them, just to make sure you like 'em:

If you liked "Watership Down" (that's the one with the rabbits) you'll like this one by the same author. Traveller (spelled with a double l in the British style) is General Robert Lee's horse, and carried him into every major Civil War battle, including Gettysburg. What does a horse think about war? Traveller will tell you personally. Based on the true life story of the real Traveller.

Dick Francis wrote over forty books, and most of them are awesome. Each of them are A) mysteries B) related heavily to horse racing and C) showcasing a different career path. I never never never would have found glass-blowing interesting if Dick Francis hadn't written "Shattered," wherein horses, jockeys, villains, cops and racing trophies are combined together into an incredibly engrossing novel. Check out his whole list of books here. Stay away from the most recent, written in part by his son Felix; those aren't as good as his others.

If you have kids, get these. If you don't, lie to the librarian or cashier and tell them you do, because you'll want to read these.

They're short, easy-reader type books that perfectly exemplify every naughty, nasty, sour thing ever done by an equine in a hilarious montage of pictures and jokes that only a real horse owner can appreciate. "Norton" the pony is a crow-hopping, treat-mugging, hog-rooting, ill-tempered beast that is somehow still beloved by his optimistic owner. Remind you of any of your own critters? Yeah, I thought so.

I love non-fiction, and I love horses, but I hate reading non-fiction horse books. They usually fall into three categories:

1) The story of an amazing and interesting horse...buried in 18 chapters of the owner's incredibly detailed, incredibly boring life story.
2) Vet/equipment/riding/training manuals. Useful, but after one chapter, I zone out.
3) Glossy coffee table books filled with pretty pictures of different horse breeds.

This book is none of those. Susanna Forrest caught my attention with her fascinating, trivia-filled, horse-obsessed blog long before her book came out. Buy it today. Since she's a small-time UK writer, availability may be limited. Do it anyway.

1 comment:

  1. I am a bit of a bibliophile so want books around me ALOT.. I go to good will, garage sales and half price books and go to their clearance section. I just got Tami Hoag's Dark Horse which is a great book, launching a great character into the world of horses, competitions, breeders and all that good stuff.