In the bestselling tradition of works by such authors as Susan Orlean and Mary Roach, a New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist explores why so many people—including herself—are obsessed with horses.
It may surprise you to learn that there are over seven million horses in America—even more than when they were the only means of transportation—and nearly two million horse owners. Acclaimed journalist and avid equestrian Sarah Maslin Nir is one of them; she began riding horses when she was just two years old and hasn’t stopped since. Horse Crazy is a fascinating, funny, and moving love letter to these graceful animals and the people who—like her—are obsessed with them. It is also a coming-of-age story of Nir growing up an outsider within the world’s most elite inner circles, and finding her true north in horses.
Nir takes us into the lesser-known corners of the riding world and profiles some of its most captivating figures. We meet Monty Roberts, the California trainer whose prowess earned him the nickname “the man who listens to horses”; George and Ann Blair, the African-American husband and wife who run a riding academy for inner city youth on a tiny island in the middle of Manhattan’s East River; and Francesca Kelly, a wealthy London socialite whose love for an Indian nobleman shaped her life’s mission: to rescue an endangered Indian breed of horse and bring them—illegally—to America.
Woven into these compelling character studies, Nir shares her own moving personal narrative. She details her father’s harrowing tale of surviving the Holocaust, and describes an enchanted but deeply lonely upbringing in Manhattan, where horses became her family. She found them even in the middle of the city, in a stable disguised in an old townhouse and in Central Park, when she chased down truants as an auxiliary mounted patrol officer. And she speaks candidly of how horses have helped her overcome heartbreak and loss.
Infused with heart and wit, and with each chapter named after a horse Nir has loved, Horse Crazy is an unforgettable blend of beautifully written memoir and first-rate reporting.
Sarah Maslin Nir is a staff reporter for The New York Times. Nir was a Finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for “Unvarnished,” her more than yearlong investigation into New York City’s nail salon industry that documented the exploitative labor practices and health issues manicurists face. Before becoming a staff reporter, Nir freelanced for eleven sections of the paper, traveling to the Alaskan wilderness in search of people who prefer to live in isolation, and to post-earthquake Haiti. She began as the New York Times’s nightlife columnist, covering 252 parties in 18 months, and continued on to a career that has taken her from covering kidnappings by terrorists in Benin, West Africa, to wildfires in California, and everything in between. A born and raised Manhattanite, Nir earned a masters at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and graduated from Columbia University, where she studied politics and philosophy. She is the author of Horse Crazy. She loves horses.