Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Neigh, neigh

Took Beanie to the library this morning to borrow a book. She finished Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux, which she immediately followed with DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Beanie, who likes to remind me that she will have her half birthday on my full birthday, in two weeks, making her 6.5 years to my 40 years, tells me that she likes stories that have sad, but happy endings.

So, of course, the book that she selected this morning had to be a book about a girl and a horse. Also, not just any girl, but a misunderstood orphan, and not just any horse, but a mustang too wild for any man to handle, but that the kindness of a courageous girl could tame. Sigh. If you are 40 years old, like me, then you know this story already - and have loved and cried over its iterations.

The book that Beanie is reading is titled Katie and the Mustang, and it is the first of four parts in a series called Hoofbeats by Kathleen Duey, who is quoted on the book flap as suggesting:

Girls throughout history, in almost every country, have grown up trusting horses with their friendship, their secrets, and even their very lives. The Hoofbeats books are about that trust.

In future posts, I want to consider, as a parenthropologist, Duey's claims about the relationship between girls and horses. My hunch is that it is part of an American middle-class experience, which clearly seems connected with fantasies about the American frontier and anxieties about urbanization and industrialization - not to mention gender - but I am willing to be proven a chronic overthinker who is plain wrong on this.

Here is an essay that considers the question, Why do girls love horses?

By the way, a bit of advice on pursuing this topic - typing "girls and horses" into google yields some results that you never wanted to know existed, along the lines of the historical rumors surrounding Catherine the Great's demise.

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