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104 Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  859 ratings  ·  129 reviews
‘A letter is handed to you. In broken English, it tells you that you must now vacate your farm; that this is no longer your home, for it now belongs to the crowd on your doorstep. Then the drums begin to beat.’

As the land invasions gather pace, the Retzlaffs begin an epic journey across Zimbabwe, facing eviction after eviction, trying to save the group of animals with whom
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by William Morrow (first published April 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  859 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Start your review of 104 Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile
Pat and Mandy Metzlaff lost everything except what was most important: love for each other, family and their animals, especially their horses. They had worked hard to scratch a farm from the bush of Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia. Married in 1978, they had 3 children (Paul, Jay and Kate) who grew up on Pat’s childhood farm recently returned to (relative) peace after a bloody civil war which resulted in the country’s name change.

One Hundred and Four Horses tells a heart-wrenching story of the Metzl
Trish Jackson
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compelling, heartbreaking and triumphant.
This book is the voice of abandoned animals all over the world.
It tells the dreadful story of the plight of the animals in Zimbabwe. While the human suffering is hard enough to digest, the fate of the horses and dogs and cats and livestock left behind when their owners were given just a few minutes—or the lucky ones a few hours—to pack up their worldly goods and leave their homes forever, was and still is a terrible tragedy.
The book is extremely well wr
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, africa
This book swept me away! I was completely engrossed reading it & didn't want to put it down.

I loved everything about this book. I loved the author's descriptions of the wonderful, warm, & generous Zimbabwean people - minus the awful government & war vets, of course! I loved the descriptions of life on an African farm. They farmed in the same district I grew up in - a beautiful piece of country - & I enjoyed picturing the places mentioned in my mind. I loved their compassion for animals - it move
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One Hundred and Four Horses offered an exciting tale of adventure, not the kind you look for, and resilience. Resilience of family, love and the will to survive and help your "herd" survive. The author, her family, and their herd of horses face more trials than you could think. Never once does the author curse the universe for her plight, she simply faces it with her family, and they make a plan over and over to deal with the obstacles that are before them.

I was inspired by her resilience, but
Rosie Shephard
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extraordinary true story of Mandy (Amanda) Retzlaff and her family as they brave Mugabe's stand in Zimbabwe. Both charming and tragic, this well written book demonstrates the love between a family and their horses. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in horses, adventure, and suspense. I could not put this book down!
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horses, shelf
Hands down one of the best books I've read this year. One to reread time and again for sure. ...more
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not really a fan of animal themed books, (they usually die) so ‘One hundred and four horses’ by Mandy Retzlaf, would not be something I would normally pick up. However, the theme for ‘Bookchat’ this month was animal stories, so this is what I went with. And yes (spoiler alert) some horses do die, and I did cry. But aside from the equine carnage this was actually a really gripping story.
Mandy and Pat Retzlaf met in South Africa in the 1970s. They married and moved to Rhodesia (as it was known
Diana M. Hawkins
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A profoundly moving account of perseverance and courage.
This is a riveting story of a couple’s perseverance, courage and dedication to providing a safe home for 104 horses, many of which they generously took in after their owners were forced to abandon them during Zimbabwe’s violent farm seizures. Later, like hundreds of other white farmers, Mandy and Pat Retzlaff were also robbed of their land and means of making a living. For their family and horses to survive, they undertook a frightening and
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was one of those books I just couldn't put down. It really gave you an amazing look at a type of life that most people couldn't comprehend. The strength and determination of these people is amazing. Well worth reading. I do need to disclose that I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads. ...more
Liz Jurado
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic book which appealed to me because I love animal stories, but turned out to be a history lesson told by a woman who was affected greatly. I loved this book, in spite of the gruesome tragedies that befall the horses.

What would you do if you had to leave your home in a few hours?  Could you leave your animals behind knowing that animals left on other farms had been killed?  That was one of the issues facing farmers in Zimbabwe when Robert Mugabe's government instituted a series of land seizures.

The Retzlaff family didn't leave Zimbabwe right away like many of the other white farmers they knew did.  They moved farm to farm but the chaos followed them.  As they moved across the country over a series of years,
Stephanie A.
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, horses
A gut-wrenching account of racial and political tensions as unstable government gives rise to a menacing policy of "taking back" the land from white farmers. Well, not so much "taking back" as "utterly destroying so nobody can have it" in a bizarre blaze of wanton violence to consolidate political power. The adventurous flight described in the subtitle is a relatively small part of the story overall, but I thought it was set up very well, giving the couple's background and the farm's idyllic his ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book. Horses? Dramatic rescues in a part of the world is like to know more about? Sounded like a winner, but the more I read, the more wanted to throw the book in the ocean.

Although I did not expect a full discussion of Zimbabwean history and politics in a memoir of this sort, the book was so one sided in its viewpoint (that of a white Zimbabwean farmer) that I began to wonder about the other side of her stories. Questions starting with why the black people in Zimbabwe wan
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
As a horse lover and someone wih had been to Africa and has friends living there, I thought this book might be an interesting read, but was disappointed. One of the reviews said this was a. 'Triumphant' story, but have to say that it was anything but that in my mind.

Spoiler alert. It was really depressing and going from 104 horses done to around 30 isn't what I would call a triumphant or uplifting story. The author and her husband persevered to care for all these horses while others leave the c
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LOVED this book. Could not put it down from the moment I started it. Such a great read about the true story of a family's journey from war-torn Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) to Mozambique with their own horses as well as those they have picked up along the way. The love of their animals shows thru and the book is an amazing testament to that and their will of survival in war torn land. ...more
Sharon Steinkraus
Beautiful story of courage and strength in a beautiful country. Couldn't put it down! I feel like I know the author and her family after reading this story of love! ...more
Carol Van
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a compelling read - a must read for anyone who lives in Africa.... Tragic yet beautiful
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is such a striking novel told by Mandy about her and her family’s lives. It’s filled with love, joy and like any good book sadness.

It’s her story of how they went from 4 horses and their farm/ plantation to 104 rescue horses and the journey they embarked on. You can see the love that Mandy has for not only her family but the horses who became her family out of the kindness of hers and pats hearts. As a horse lover myself it was inspiring to see a novel where the personality’s if every indi
A patient read but a heartfelt story of how the land raids tore up a working Zimbabwe and the plight the tyrant had on animals. The book bridges the feelings of human and horse... Well written and a true story reminding the reader of the power entwined between human and horse spirit... A joint and loving effort to survive jointly as a family of 2 species man and horse is seen in this book
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not really sure what to think about this one. It's the story of the author and her husband being pushed out of their land in Zimbabwe with other white farmers, and of trying to hold on to their horses and those of other white farmers who lost land.

There's certainly a sense of drama and romance to the story, but it's also so deeply one-sided. I mean, on the one hand, of course it is. The author's husband fought on the side of white Rhodesia; it's not until the very end of the book that she acknow
Buz Trevor
Apr 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book had been recommended by a good friend and because we were going on a long trip we bought the audiobook. We have an African background and in the past I had a lot to do with horses.

Within this book there is the nucleus of a great story but it absolutely cries out for a good editor. The author repeats herself ad nauseam. To give a blatant example - the scene in the prologue is rehashed almost verbatim later in the book. She gives us repeated litanies of horses' names, frequently qualifie
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horse-books
Mandy and Pat Retzlaff love horses. Their devotion to horses is so strong they risked everything to save as many as possible. This is a hard to put down memoir of one couples experiences in Zimbabwe during the rule of President Mugabe. Pat and Mandy were born and raised in Africa. As a young married couple they bought an abandoned farm in Zimbabwe. Over the years they built it into a successful commercial farming operation and were raising their three children. The plan was to spend the rest of ...more
Greer Noble
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lucky enough to have known the author and her husband, having holidayed (apart from the 15 year long civil war) in the Bazaruto Archipelego since 1958, when still a child, having come from the same farming area to where they were farming and having gone to school in Umtali, I'm probably biased but anyone who's ever lived with a pet they loved will be able to relate to how much these horses meant to Mandy and Pat, and anyone who hasn't will want to rush out and buy their own or at least take up r ...more
Many thanks to the author and publisher for this free copy through the Goodreads “First Reads" program. This was a very interesting story about a time and place I knew nearly nothing about. Mandy Retzlaff and her husband are true heroes. What they endured and what they achieved is both unimaginable and inspiring.

You don’t have to know horses to enjoy this book, but the author really captured some of the horses’ personalities, and by the end there were some I’d grown quite attached to. Though it
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
This is a story that would make any animal lover proud. And for that very same reason many will choose to keep off this book, not realizing what the book really is about. My first impression based on the title was to keep hands off policy, and I almost missed a really good book.

One Hundred and Four Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile by Mandy Retzlaff is a heart-touching and beautiful story. It is a gripping story of one family's dogged determination to do something good in the
As a horse owner, wildlife biologist, & human in the 21st century, I found this difficult to read. While I commend the impulse to protect animals during human conflict, this book is rife with cringe-worthy issues. It reads like it was written in the 1940s instead of 2000. There is naive, blatant colonialism, in which no people are described in any detail except for other wealthy white friends from the polo club. Black workers are either referred to possessively ('our' gardener, 'our' driver) or ...more
Oct 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know that "liked" is quite the word, but it was a good book. Heart-breaking through. Watching a country destroyed and trying to understand differences in culture, politics, lifestyle and ethics just wasn't easy for a sheltered Midwest American girl like me. And it was painful getting to know so many of these 104 horses only to watch them come to sad, often gruesome, ends. Although the depictions of the deaths were generally brief, it should be warned that some of them are rather graphic ...more
Maureen Moriarty
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This true story had me at Africa and horses. But I was unprepared for the emotional journey I was about to take reading it--I couldn't put it down. I was in Zimbabwe in 2005, the only tourists staying at Elephant Camp (they took in orphan elephants that were also victims in Mugabes wake). This amazing story brings to life the unbelievable human spirit and commitment of a heroic couple, Mandy and Pat Retzlaff in their remarkable perseverance to rescue 104 horses left in the wake of farm land recl ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, memoir, animals, horses
This was a very intense and interesting story mainly about Pat and Mandy Retzlaff and their family, in their quest to save not only their own horses but many that had to be left behind by their neighbors and friends as their farms were taken over by armed members of President Robert Mugabe's War Veterans' Association, who began invading the farmlands owned by white and black Zimbabweans and violently reclaiming the land. The Retzlaff's devoted horse lovers, did their best to keep as many of thes ...more
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Born in Ghana and raised in South Africa, Mandy Retzlaff now runs Mozambique Horse Safari with her husband.

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