Legendary Hearts of Horses


Non-Fiction - Animals
160 Pages
Reviewed on 03/02/2021
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Author Biography

Even before the ‘Age of Coronavirus’, I’ve tried to answer, ‘What do I want to ‘put forward’, pay forward, or give to those all around me?’, ‘How do I honor my teachers, my family, my community, and what can I possibly add to their messages’?

Like many people, I have lots to say, but I wonder if I’ve I learned enough to contribute to a brighter horse, human and collective future. My sincerest wish is to pass something along that is positive and helpful.

I wrote 'Legendary Hearts of Horses' to not only express my gratitude and awe for these gorgeous creatures, but to suggest that we all have much in common; we love, we learn, we share, we suffer. Connecting us beyond everything we know and everything we don't know, is 'heart'.

I hope 'Legendary Hearts of Horses' serves as a beacon for community and hope, especially now, during these challenging times.

Adrienne Neary is an equestrian, author, illustrator, researcher and Equine Energy practitioner. She has a background in Animal Science and studied with world renowned instructors Dr. Henri van Schaik and Dr. John Harvey Gray, and now writes about the wisdom they imparted along combined with her decades of experience teaching and coaching. When she's not writing or drawing, Adrienne spends time with her Husky, who, in turn, spends time devising ways to train Adrienne better. Adrienne also spends time with her retired Thoroughbred who now lives the very, very good life…

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Legendary Hearts of Horses by Adrienne Neary is a non-fiction thesis that takes an in-depth look into the rare 'super-heart' of racehorses, drawing on the famed Secretariat and his heart, which is estimated to weigh a spectacular twenty-two pounds. Neary's primary purpose is to educate readers on the X factor theory, a hypothesis that attributes a gene mutation in the X chromosome, and present her own findings as she researched the phenomenon of the most powerful of equine hearts. In her quest she pulls together equine history and some of the greatest racehorses of all time, including Eclipse, Man o' War, Phar Lap, and, of course, Secretariat. But Neary's research goes much, much further back than this, bridging a gap between domestic, wild, and feral horses and their human counterparts and an equine lineage that likely shaped the mightiest of hearts.

Adrienne Neary compiles a great deal of information in Legendary Hearts of Horses without resorting to the usual flourish that tends to skew a reader to an author's perception of facts. The book is also devoid of fluffy page fillers, which I deeply appreciate as a reader who wants a clear, concise, and tightly written delivery of data. This format does not take away from Neary's enthusiasm, which comes across the page with so much zeal that I, a person who knows virtually nothing about horses, let alone their anatomical and genetic makeup, approached the book with equal enthusiasm. The most interesting part to me is on the evolution of the modern horse and a spotlight on the genus Equus dating back millions of years. Neary's work sets her apart as a true authority and I have no doubt that others will find as much interest in her book as I have.

Joe Wisinski

Legendary Hearts of Horses by Adrienne Neary explores the phenomena of some horses having abnormally large hearts. She begins with the racing legend Secretariat and the fact that his autopsy showed his heart was almost twice the size that would have been expected. Neary theorizes it was this attribute that enabled Secretariat to perform as well as he did. After also looking at other racing horses with similar oversized hearts, Neary delves into the history of other legendary horses. She also explores the background of mankind’s relationship with horses in general, especially with the consistent theme of the impact of horses on history. Neary says the world would be a different place if it hadn’t been for horses and our partnership with them because they enabled both exploration and conquests.

Adrienne Neary’s Legendary Hearts of Horses would appeal to not only horse lovers or those who bet on horse races, but anyone with an interest in history and/or the theory of evolution. Even though the topic is a scientific one, the book is not written in an esoteric way. Neary shows a remarkable knowledge of history, specifically how horses fit into and helped change it. As someone interested in history, I enjoyed reading about the ancient past as well as the early years of the colonization of the Americas and the United States. What made the book especially interesting was that it’s written from the standpoint of how horses impacted history. Neary’s book is thoroughly researched and contains an extensive bibliography. She is obviously a horse lover and her passion comes through in her writing.

Lesley Jones

Legendary Hearts of Horses by Adrienne Neary is a thorough examination and analysis of the meaningful bond shared by horses and man through history. Horses have been a constant support for mankind not only for transportation and agriculture but also as devoted companions. The amazing phenomenon 'equine large heart' was first brought to our attention when Secretariat, the most celebrated racehorse of the 1970s, died in 1989. The post mortem examination revealed something astonishing; his heart weighed almost double that of a normal horse. Was this an isolated case of a large heart and the secret behind Secretariat's success? This began a nine-year journey from Kentucky to England and Australia to gain a deeper understanding of this superb creature. Discover why the large hearts in horses may be connected to the mysterious occurrences of the Universe and not just biological DNA. The large equine heart could also have originated from the Ottoman Empire which gradually made its way around the globe. Every creature born into the world was made of love and compassion so is there a connection between this and the large heart of such a dignified and elegant creature?

Legendary Hearts of Horses by Adrienne Neary is an extraordinary insight into the unique bond between horses and man. The extensive research that has gone into this book is admirable and the stories of sacrifice and pure devotion were incredibly moving, particularly Bucephalus' battle in 327 BC. There are so many values we can gain from these selfless and brave animals, their absolute fearlessness, compassion and virtuous behaviour. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical tales, the successes and failures which we can all learn from. I was especially touched by The Trail Of Tears account and also how the relationship between man and equines first began. I thought the comparison between our need to be accepted and loved and a horse's unlimited capacity for love and non-judgemental mindset was extremely powerful. We have a lot to learn about what is truly important and this quote is one of my favourites from the book: 'We’re the most domesticated creature on earth, and that may not necessarily be a good thing. We’re imprisoned by thoughts, attitudes, invented and self-imposed circumstances.' A highly engaging and interesting read.