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Horse People: Scenes from the Riding Life

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  552 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Bestselling author Michael Korda's Horse People is the story -- sometimes hilariously funny, sometimes sad and moving, always shrewdly observed -- of a lifetime love affair with horses, and of the bonds that have linked humans with horses for more than ten thousand years. It is filled with intimate portraits of the kind of people, rich or poor, Eastern or Western, famous o ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 21st 2003 by Harper (first published 2003)
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In some ways, this was a 4 star book about horses, but more of a 3. It wanders a bit with choppy timelines & can be repetitious or even boring in spots. Korda isn't a bitten-by-the-bug type of horseman nor does he get his hands too dirty, but he admits that. Given his job, the top editor of Simon & Shuster, I wouldn't expect it of him. He writes well & credibly, though. Some of his wandering is entertaining & I learned a lot about city riding that I hadn't known, if it was true.

Nov 12, 2010 Kate rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
Shelves: horse-books
Pretentious, boring crap. Here and there an insightful characterization or anecdote will get your hopes up, but for the most part this book is a "Look at me, I'm so rich, my wife looks great in her underpants, we are super" vanity project that made me cranky. I read this book years ago and I'm still mad I bought it. There are so many horse books out there that are worth reading: Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley is an excellent place to start. Don't bother with this one. If you're a real horse person, ...more
Jul 28, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any member of the "horse nation"
They might be called the “horse nation,” a wide swathe ranging from those who own horses or grew up with them, to those who merely on occasion ride. They love the rich smell of horses and leather; they may even fill their homes with horse-themed paraphernalia. This is the natural audience for Korda's collection of essays about himself and his wife, Margaret. It's an audience with strong individual opinions about horses and the book will certainly elicit criticism on one point or another. For exa ...more
In this book the author, one of those infinitely lucky people who can afford to keep horses on their own land, shares his numerous experiences with equines and the humans who love them. He's ridden with Virginia foxhunters, spent mornings riding in Central Park, and dabbled in showing. Most of the praise of the relationship between horse and human is given to Korda's wife, who had some successful years showing in eventing. Korda describes the long line of horses that graced their lives in an app ...more
I will give the book jacket this much. This book is "intensely personal." To the point of being completely uninteresting to anyone who is not Michael Korda. I wanted funny anecdotes about crazy horse people, not the story of how you met your hot model girlfriend while riding horses in Central Park.
Expected nice stories about the horse back riding life, instead got a bunch of uninteresting stories interspersed with him divorcing his wife (who doesn't seem to care for horses much) and ending up with another woman and trying to justify it. Got bored halfway through.
Mar 03, 2009 Josh rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horse widows
Recommended to Josh by: Becca

after finishing this book. i can say its disjointed at best, lacking any type of narrative structure that i would call streamlined. its like a compilation of journal entries over a not that interesting 25 year period.
Angela R.
Thought I did not find the main character to be someone I could relate to (or even particularly like) I did enjoy this book. I am one of those "horse people" but neither the "old money" or "new money" types he mostly talks about. This book makes it sound like horses are a game for wealthy people trying to hang onto those traditions of gentility and social class that put them above other people. Most of the horse people I know are like me, hard-working, middle class Americans who occasionally exi ...more
How can you not like a book in which the author describes being thrown by his horse Zapata thusly: “…the moment you exchanged a seat in the saddle for a trip through thin air Zapata was off and running, kicking, breaking his reins, galloping flat out, letting off triumphant, thunderous farts in a wild ecstasy of motion.”

Korda is erudite, urbane, intellectual and funny. This is a memoir of his mature life, built around his and his wife’s relationships with their horses. Likable, with loads of wel
Even though it's written from the perspective of someone who is not totally passionate about horses (which he admits himself, though he enjoys riding), this is an enjoyable read for the horse lover, or anyone who has spent time in the company of horses or the people whose worlds revolve around them. There's many amusing anecdotes from shopping for the perfect horse (one's fast, one's slow, one's just plain crazy!) to broken automatic horse waterers to all the cranky, old, young, weird or whimsic ...more
This book is great for people who are already into horses- it may be lost on those with little knowledge of the horse world, but it provided many hours of lighthearted fun. Korda tells of his experiences with horses and the people that surround them, and how he fell into the world that sucked him in further and further until much of his life centered around the animal he had once intended to bring into his life only as a hobby.

This book really makes you think about all the lessons that horses d
Slow, but good enough to stop & start. Without drama and a committment to a story line this was a pleasure to read. To someone who knows zilch about horses like myself, Korda gives good insight and something(s) to think about when it comes to the love, care and responsiblities of horseownership.
Yet, personally, I wish he would have said something more about his son. What on earth became of him? After all, the man partly owes his reborn interest in horse riding to the six year old.
Apr 29, 2008 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Horse lovers and their spouses everywhere
It probably helps to be a 'horse person' to fully enjoy Mr. Korda's recounting of his life with equines, but you don't have to be. However, being a self-styled horse person, I did love Horse People most of all because of the wonderful way Korda illustrates the provocative relationship humans and equines. Mostly, though, I loved it because it was a Horse Man telling the story. At least in my experience, there are far more Horse Women in the saddle than the opposite sex.
Pretentious? Yes. Hilarious? Absolutely. It is a little bit of 'I'm so rich, and here is my hot girlfriend, and look at our money', but really? It's a funny look at little excerpts from someone who lived a horse-oriented life. From the description of his first instructor, to the terrifying trip around a fox-hunt field.... I found myself laughing along.
A NY Times "notable". Funny and the author does hit the mark when it comes to "our world", as horse people.
Jul 20, 2007 treehugger rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horse people
Shelves: partially_read
SO right-on with the hunter-jumper set..
Mackenzie Kincaid
I picked this book up out of general interest and a desire to learn more about a world of horse ownership that I have absolutely no experience with, namely the world of high-dollar riding in the American east and in particular foxhunting. I imagined this to be somewhat fascinating area to delve into and I suspect it would have been, perhaps in the hands of an author who is more interested in his own subject. Despite being a rider and horse owner for a pretty sizeable chunk of his life, Korda is ...more
One of my favorites

I've read this book several times over the years. It's one that I have to revisit periodically. Mostly I enjoy the story of the transition between being city horse boarders to country folk with their own farm but with enough resources to leave farm management primarily up to paid staff.
Madeline Benoit
Being a horse person, this book was like a delicious dessert- I loved every moment of the book. Korda has a wonderful sense of humor and a very obvious understanding of the horse world and "Horse People", and tells beautiful stories of how horses have changed his life and the lives of others. Korda also does his research, and places many fascinating historic horse facts throughout the book. The humorous descriptions of every kind of horse out there and the spot-on understanding of how horses imp ...more
I never finished this book. I got bored with it. However it still got three out of five stars because I was impressed with the comical way Korda tells his stories. It really throws what I know as an Equestrian into perspective. It amazes me that some people can't read horses like I can, this book really pointed that out to me. If you have the patience to wade through this fragmented book, I would say, "go for it." It definitely will make you laugh if you are a horseman, and maybe it will teach y ...more
Abigail Johnson
excellent and enjoyable read
Samantha Jones
I'm 22 and I've been riding for 17 years now. Boyfriend's mom bought me this book as a gift. I couldn't finish it. I read the part where the author went fox hunting just out of curiosity and then put it down. And I NEVER leave books unfinished once I start them. (I'm OCD and it's my pet peeve.) But I couldn't do it. Author aggravated me and there was no plot or purpose ...At least not through page 150. I also rarely write reviews so....
Vincent Diamond
Nov 04, 2008 Vincent Diamond rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes horses
Laugh out loud tales of the upper crust of horse people from renowned editor Michael Korda. Korda's voice is dapper and British, of course, which makes for dryly hysterical tales of his various mishaps and relationships with horses. I've "loaned" two copies to friends and never gotten them back; in fact, I have a request for it on Bookmooch because I another one. I savor the re-reading of this one; a wonderful horsey memoir.
This is a great book. I wasn't sure I'd find it interesting--I read more novels and fiction. But it is well-written and very funny. One story that I still remember is how a horse ran away with the author and he unwittingly jumps a huge jump in the field, impressing the woman he's riding with. I am a horse person myself and really appreciated all the different stories that illustrate the different ways to be a "horse person."
Melissa Rice
These are about "horse people" I don't know - the upper crust and high dollar riders ... well written but I felt like these were people from another planet.
Heather Kimbler
Interesting stories. The beginning was better, I did lose interest toward the end but wanted to finish.
Written by a Sports Writer. His personal account of his own life with horses, and of his experience with people of all social classes who love dedicating their lives to horses. Part autobiography, part 'Horse Whisperer', part love story, 100% Non-Fiction. For those who know horses and for those who wish they knew them.
I expected much more out of this book. Sadly, even though I am a horse person myself, this book really didn't keep me interested. I'm actually rather ambivalent about it.
Randy Daugherty
Korda admits that he isn't one of those who get dirty or rush out to the barn kind of people.
He does give us a whimsical look at horses in another light and stories of other horse people he has met or talked to around the country.
This wasn't a great book nor a bad one but was enjoyable.
Belea Keeney
Korda's descriptions of horses -- and their people -- will have you laughing out loud in recognition of the animal and human behavior. A bit talky, he is British, after all, but oh such a voice and such stories! Highly recommened even if you're not necessarily horse people.
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