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THE HORSE WHISPER and Thoughts on Struggles in Life May 1, 2012

Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review, Movie reveiew.
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Recently I read THE HORSE WHISPER a best selling novel by Nicholas Evans. In 1998 it was made into a movie, which Robert Redford directed and starred in. The story is about Grace Maclean a thirteen-year-old girl whose life is shattered by a terrible accident. One snowy day in upstate New York Grace goes horseback riding with her friend Judith. As they start up a hill Judith’s horse slips on ice and crashes into Grace’s horse Pilgrim. Judith falls off her horse and is dragged down the hill. Both girls and their horses end up in the road to find a semitruck barreling toward them.
The story is about Grace’s struggle back to health, physically and emotionally. Grace’s horse Pilgrim is also seriously injured and traumatized by the accident. He has become wild and uncontrollable. The veterinarian recommends putting Pilgrim down. Annie, Grace’s workaholic mother, refuses because she realizes her daughter’s full recovery is connected somehow to Pilgrim’s recovery.
In Annie’s search to find help for Pilgrim, she hears about Tom Brooker, a man with unusual abilities with horses called a “horse whisperer.” When Tom sees the terrible shape Pilgrim is in, he says it’s too late to save the animal. Annie refuses to take no for an answer and drags her daughter and the horse all the way from New York to Montana to beg Tom to work with the horse.
Annie and Grace have a dysfunctional relationship and Grace refuses to talk to her mother on the drive west. The book is about the struggle of the daughter and horse to recover from the accident and the struggle of the mother and daughter to rebuild their relationship.
The story is also about Annie taking a new look at her life and what is truly important. She and Tom fall in a love and have an affair, which leads to further complications.
The majority of the movie portrays the book fairly accurately, but if you really want to find out how the horse whisperer works with horses I’d recommend reading the book. The movie also softens the affair to a romantic dance and changes the end to a happier one.
The book and movie were both inspired by Buck Brannaman, a man with an amazing, almost spiritual way with horses. A documentary named BUCK was made about him. The film won the Roger Ebert’s list of the Best Documentaries of 2011 and the Oscar shortlist. Buck said he doesn’t help people with horse problems but rather horses with people problems. His compassion for horses came partly out of a challenging childhood with a violent father.

No one likes hardship and suffering, but it is through the trials of life that some of greatest learning comes. It reminds me of the story about a man who found the cocoon of an emperor moth. He watched the moth struggle to come out of the narrow opening of the cocoon and decided to help it by cutting off a bit of the top. The moth emerged with a swollen body and small wings, and died soon after. The man wondered what had gone wrong. He looked up information about the emperor moth and discovered that in order for a pupa to become a moth, it must squeeze its way out of the narrow neck of the cocoon. This forces the fluid out of the body and into the wings so it will be able to fly. The man thought he was being kind by cutting a slit in the cocoon and easing the moth’s journey. Instead the poor creature was never able to reach its full potential and become a beautiful emperor moth.
In THE HORSE WHISPERER the child, mother and horse all have to go through a great struggle like the emperor moth. Through their experience they grew and emerged as stronger more loving beings.
All of us have struggles and challenges in life to help us learn love and compassion. Through our hardships we develop beauty and grace as the emperor moth does as it emerges from its cocoon.
Have you had an experience where you were faced with a challenge and rose to the challenge to become a stronger, more compassionate person? Please share your experiences.



1. William - July 17, 2012

I must share with you that this is the most important event of my life. As a christian, I see Jesus in the horse wisperer. As a true cowboy, as someone that knows horses, I relate myself to Pilgrim and from his first rejection to his return I feel his heart. To me the movie is about the horse. I ask anyone to view the movie from Pilgrim’s heart. Then tell me that there is not a higher power that reaches out to us in our time of need

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