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Land of the Horses: A True Story of a Lost Soul and a Life Found – Chris Lombard (2013)

An intensely moving memoir of a young man who left heartbreak in Maine to seek healing Out West in the company of horses.

Growing up in a small Maine town, Chris Lombard had never ridden a horse–never even touched one. But on one fateful night, as what he’d thought was a happy twenty-something life full of love and possibility fell suddenly apart, he met two horses and looked into their eyes. What he saw inspired him to leave everything he had, and everything he didn’t have, behind, and go in search of what was missing.

With the little he needed packed in his ten-year-old Pontiac Grand Prix, and little more to go on than a belief that someone would give him a chance, Chris headed west to find work on a horse ranch. His journey took him first to the mountains of Colorado, then the Hollywood Hills of California, and finally, the wild borderlands of Southern Arizona. The settings changed but the same lessons came in quiet moments, movingly captured in these pages: watching horses, reaching out to them, swinging upon their backs. Chris learned new meanings for words–presence, connection, softness, and balance–the elements of good horsemanship feeding a deep hunger he didn’t know he had. But learning to ride a horse, learning to communicate with him, to teach him things, these required qualities Chris was only beginning to cultivate. Human nature plans; it pushes and it rushes. And it would take a terrible accident to awaken a whole new awareness for time and space, and Chris’s place within it, beside a horse.

In the austere beauty of the Sonora Desert, Chris met a cowboy whose intense love for life on the back of a horse held a deep sadness at bay, but only for so long. Their brief time together, working land and livestock, would bring Chris to the realization that the richly fulfilling new life he’d found held all the answers he sought, but only if he could ultimately leave it behind.

Evocatively written, interweaving the author’s growing understanding of horses and how we connect with them with his deeply personal experiences, Land of the Horses brings to life a young man’s transformation alongside the horses, people, and dramatic landscapes of the American West. Healing heartbreak, falling and getting back on, searching for something true–this is a story that is in all of us. And it shows we are all capable of creating the life we truly want to live.

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