In order to stave off suicidal thoughts, I cling to my goal of becoming a professional rider. As I head to the barn I learn that my horse, Tiny has suffered a life-threatening injury to his leg. My parents decide to proceed with an emergency surgery despite an uncertain prognosis and their already strained finances as they worry that if we lose Tiny, that they will lose me as well. Despite the vet’s best efforts, Tiny awakes from surgery paralyzed. He fights to cling to a life I struggle to live as we try everything we can to help him. Nothing is working. The morning of Tiny’s impeding euthanasia I find out that he is miraculously no longer paralyzed. He will still have a long road of rehabilitation ahead and I am still thick in the struggle of my life. My parents have tried everything they can to help me too but are unsuccessful and ask me to leave. I move to Northern BC to live with my aunt and work with a highly acclaimed psychologist, even he cant’t reach me. I obsess over nursing Tiny back to health, executing his rehabilitation plan and getting myself back into competitive shape which comes at the price of confinement and depression for Tiny and the development of an eating disorder for myself. I come to realize that I need to let Tiny free in the field with the other horses, that he wont make any further progress without a will to live. When I set him free he paces a small rectangle the shape of the paddock he’s been confined to which I relate to my being confined by the mental illness I am suffering with that is yet to be diagnosed. I discover a book about Borderline Personality disorder and though I’d lost my ability to read, I am able to process the words in front of me for the first time seeing myself on the page. I open up to the therapist as he begins to appreciate the positive effect my relationship with my horse has on my potential to heal. I work to reprogram my brain, I get a job, move out on my own, make friends, find a boyfriend who loves me, struggles and all. When I find out Tiny is cleared to jump again I decline the opportunity to return to competition, having since discovered his aptitude and my own for working with struggling youth. I move to Alberta to be with my boyfriend and pursue our dreams of building a equine program to help at risk youth. I struggle to uphold under the pressures of trying to appear without flaw in front of his family but do my best to emply the skills my therapist has taught me. When I overhear my boyfrend and his mother discussing me, I am unable to cope and have my first anxiety attack in months. My boyfriend breaks up with me and I feel as if I have allowed my disorder to rob more from me, that I should beg for him to take me back. Instead, I return to my parents, and realize that they have loved and supported me all along. They stop at the barn where I visit Tiny in his field. He is free, and so am I despite our circumstances. Freedom doesn’t mean not having any scars, but rather worth in spite of failure and the resilience to go on.
Plot/Idea: In this stirring memoir, Lammers takes the reader through her struggles with her mental health and her battle to save her beloved horse, Tiny, while simultaneously dealing with severe external and internal stress.
Prose: Lammers's prose is generally excellent, especially her visceral descriptions. Dialogue is weakened by occasional repetition.
Originality: Lammers uniquely blends a story about mental health struggles with a tale of loving and caring for horses, to striking effect.
Character/Execution: The author is candid, reflective, and unsparing in her writing, as she addresses the darkness of depression and suicidal ideation. Her devotion to horses shines through on every page.
Date Submitted: January 02, 2024
Plot: This is a poignant memoir that explores the internal and external challenges faced by a young woman. The storyline holds the reader's interest throughout the book, and the pacing of the storytelling is steady and even.
Prose: Lammers is a strong writer whose prose is engaging and fluid. She is able to bring her emotions to life in a very real and palpable way, so while the reader may not at times know the origin of her angst, they will be well aware of the turmoil within.
Originality: Lammers's personal journey, and the manner in which she shares it, is genuine, individual, and unique.
Character/Execution: The author is successful with characterization. Readers will be moved by Lammers's depiction of the unbreakable bond between horse and human and impacted by her personal growth throughout the narrative.
Date Submitted: December 27, 2022