“[A]t thirty-seven,” Courtney Maum writes in her new memoir, the year of the horse, “I did not know how to play, because somehow, my ability to be comfortable in joy had left my heart and body.” Maum (the author of the novels costalegre Y I touched, among other books) felt unseen by her husband, and her two-year-old daughter’s needs “became vast and existential…Nina wanted a form of love that was far beyond the planned care I had shown up to now.” that moment”. Her debilitating insomnia could not be resolved with a series of remedies: “I have tried alcohol and misbehaved and kissed other men,” she writes. “I’ve tried acupuncture and exercise, no exercise, essential oils, lab-made medications. I have tried denial.” Through the mist there was a lingering attraction to horseback riding, a childhood passion that faded with the distractions of adolescence. And so she began to ride again.
As a child, Maum’s love of horses centered on the faithful and doomed Artax in eternal historythe titular winged horse in a children’s book called Flutterby, the rented pony that was given to him, at the age of six, on Christmas morning. At thirty-seven, with love comes healing: relearning to ride with gentle hands and eyes after the pain of a lost pregnancy; the lessons learned in the stable (patience, courage, relaxation) carried over to Maum’s relationships with her husband and her daughter. There are setbacks and frustrations and a devastating tragedy that left this animal lover (who still can’t see that scene of eternal history) crying an entire night, but the arc of the book is undeniably ascending. By some strange cosmic twist, I received a review copy of Maum’s book on the day I was due to take my first riding lesson in thirteen years; obviously, it had certain particular resonances for me. But in the past two years, as lives and priorities have changed in the wake of a dozen kinds of large-scale tragedies, it hasn’t been unusual to learn that a friend or acquaintance is rekindling a relationship with a hobby or passion. of childhood. . Draw, play an instrument, spend time in nature, work with clay. For those who haven’t, but hope to, this book may be just the velvety kick needed to get started.