The Perfect Horse : A Book Review

The Perfect Horse

“War is hell!” was a frequent statement made by my father, a roaring twenties baby who narrowly missed action in World War II as a Naval enlistee. World War II, one of the most catastrophic wars in history, is the setting for Elizabeth Letts’s novel, “The Perfect Horse – The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis”.

Crafting The Back Stories

The novel opens with the telling of the back stories of key players in the story, whose decisions and bravery – often in the heat of the moment – would impact the future of many prized horses. All, as you might expect, had an appreciation for horses, either through riding or profession. None knew the crafting of their back story would be used so poignantly in the coming events.

Two world-stage events, the 1936 Olympics, followed by the Americans entering WWII on December 7, 1941, bring several of the key players together on both fronts. “The Perfect Horse” is what the Third Reich set out to develop in the opening years of WWII, as they conquered the hillsides of Europe. Their war path led to capturing prized breeding stock, among them, Poland’s Arabians and Austria’s Lipizzaners.

As WWII ravaged humankind and animals alike, the safety, housing and feed supply of these prized horses became more and more perilous. Letts scoured research sources and contacted many real people to get the best firsthand account of events and decisions impacting this often-overlooked piece of one of the World’s most devastating wars. Details of these events and decisions – which eventually turned the tide for the majority of the prized Polish Arabians and White Lipizzaners – can now be found in this one book.

Ride Along With Each One of The Key Players

“I believe it would be impossible for any horse lover – or person for that matter – to read this book and not have a deep appreciation for the men and women who played a role in saving something so beautiful at a time of such deep ugliness.”

Letts writes with such clarity of detail that you, as the reader, can sense the danger, cry for the senseless loss, have your heart stop with in-the-moment decisions, and cheer for the victory; it’s almost as if you were standing or riding right alongside each of the book’s key players. I believe it would be impossible for any horse lover – or person for that matter – to read this book and not have a deep appreciation for the men and women who played a role in saving something so beautiful at a time of such deep ugliness.

Now, we, as equestrians, must be the keepers of all the beautiful horses, as our equine friends become less connected to and understood by the general public and whose role in the military is now mostly ceremonial. We must be sure we are doing our part to educate and involve the public, to pass on our horse knowledge and stir an appreciation for horses in the generations behind us.

The Perfect Horse

the-perfect-horse-whole-book-678x1024“The Perfect Horse” is the perfect read for anyone who loves horses and knows the value they bring to humankind. Elizabeth Letts sums up the value and the vision perfectly, as she writes:

“Still as Podhjsky gave his beloved mount the signal to enter the ring, he knew that what made his horse magnificent was not the splendor of his surrounding but the deep beauty of his spirit. Most people in the audience would never know anything about these horses or the hardships they had suffered, but instinctively, they would understand that this performance was a manifestation of humanity’s attraction to the most exalted principles: beauty and harmony, peace and mutual understanding. Each of these qualities seemed to have been lost in the struggle, chaos, and overwhelming sadness of the war. Podhajsky believed that these horses could help people, just for a moment, tap into the sublime. No matter that Africa had never performed alone, nor that these were unfamiliar surroundings. When a man communicates with a horse, he speaks the language of love, and in this manner, he speaks to all of humankind.”

The Perfect Horse is written by Elizabeth Letts. It is published by Ballantine Books, NY and copyright 2016.  If you are looking for a read that will both stir the soul and enlighten the mind, follow the above link or click the bar below and pick up a copy of this incredible tale from* today!

* Just so you know, we do get a little kick-back from Amazon when products are purchased through this link. Your price stays the same and we put the resources to work to bring you more stories. It’s a win-win!

There are so many ways to horse around in stunning SLO County. To keep this info at your fingertips we have developed a FREE Hot Sheet that will direct you to stories which tell you where you can trail ride, stay with your horse, show and taste. We’ll continue to add horsing around stories to our website. You can stay up-to-date by becoming a SLO Horse News herd member. Get your Horsing Around in SLO County Hot Sheet here >.


Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family. Presently she is enjoying riding a Rocky Mounted Gaited horse and exploring Mounted Archery. Her new baby is Whisper, a Connemara filly.

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