Reclaim your yeehaw.
Horse Sluts: The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw is the autobiographical journey of self-described “late horse bloomers” Candace Wade and Penny Langley as they learned to ride in their 40s in an effort to reclaim their “yeehaw.” Written as a how-to guide of sorts for adult novice riders, this book offers so much more than simple riding advice. Wade and Langley offer deeply personal stories of overcoming their own demons, recount the many successes and failures they’ve faced in learning to ride later in life, and provide sound wisdom applicable to any rider of any age about how horses challenge us, heal us, and help us all reclaim the “yeehaw” attitude of our youth.
Wade and Langley began their journey to becoming “Horse Sluts” — a mantle they wear proudly and encourage the rest of us to take up as well — with lessons at local stables, moving around a few times in search of a trainer and barn that matched up with their personal riding interests and goals. The offer some great advice on this topic, having experienced a wide variety of facilities and types of horse professionals.
Over the years, they interspersed lessons with trail rides at local barns, road trips to learn from clinicians such as GaWaNi Pony Boy and Julie Goodnight, and riding vacation shenanigans ranging from fairytale-esque hacks through the Irish countryside to a two-hour lesson with an Olympic trainer at an Italian riding estate to an operation in Georgia that Wade dubs “Camp Nazi” — which, well, you can probably draw your own conclusions about — all in the name of developing their skills and having a great time doing it. They both have a knack for writing in a friendly, down-to-earth manner that you can’t help but smile while reading, through stories of trail rides gone awry, hours-long escapades up and down mountains, and their introduction to “crotch mumps,” which are exactly what you think.
While much of the book is made up of the chronicles of their personal riding experiences, there are several chapters devoted to “Horse Slut Wisdom,” lessons they’ve learned about riding and life from their years on the yeehaw trail. They tackle subjects like fear, frustration, and control issues, all in the context of the adult beginner, but their words hold true for any rider, no matter the age or skill level. Their advice is refreshing, as neither purports to have all the answers; they continue to remind the reader that they’re still learning, and that often there’s no better way to overcome an obstacle in the saddle than to seek out assistance from a trainer or professional. Not so much a riding manual or a self-help book, it reads more like a conversation with a friend.
It’s difficult to describe Horse Sluts in the manner of a typical book review, as this book truly takes its reader on a personal journey that may be different for everyone. But for every equestrian, it serves as a reminder to take some time to reflect on why we do what we do. We ride because we love horses; we ride because it’s therapeutic; we ride to give ourselves an hour in the day when the rest of the problems in our lives disappear. Whether we’re fifteen or fifty, tentative novice or seasoned professional, trail rider or four-star eventer, we’re all riding to find our yeehaw.
Eileen Cody’s love of reading goes back almost as long as her love of all things equine, and while her literary interests are about as varied as her equestrian ones, horse books naturally dominate her shelves. Find her a horse book she won’t read or a discipline she won’t try, and she probably owes you a drink or something.