, a memoir by Ginger Gaffney is now available in paperback!
Half Broke is the story of Gaffney’s work at an alternative prison ranch in New Mexico. An accomplished horse trainer/riding instructor, she is called to the ranch to assist with “the most dangerous horse situation I had ever encountered.” What she finds at the ranch is the perfect storm of traumatized horses and humans. She uses her uncanny ability to read horses through their movements; “I learned to listen with my eyes” and personal experiences to facilitate healing and connection.
The residents come from generations of poverty, addiction and incarceration. They apply from prison to finish their sentences at the ranch where they are self-governed and must adhere to a strict code of behavior. The horses are wild and have become aggressive towards their keepers.
As the residents learn to communicate with the horses, they begin to understand their own body language and self-image. Gaffney uses her understanding of horses to teach the men and women to walk with confidence, keep present and attentive. Her respect and connection with the horses grows to include the men and women at the ranch and herself.
The story is told predominately in the present tense. We experience even the smallest shifts in fear, anger, joy and ultimately trust between the humans and the animals. The writing is sharp, concise and lyrical. Describing the first horse she trained, Belle, Gaffney writes “this is how she began to teach me her language. That her hooves, her mouth, her brain were all connected down and over the long, lovely line of her body. Her legs were sentences that ended at each hoof. Her body needed the touch of the earth to be heard. I began to see every movement she made as a long paragraph, a story, a way to understand each other. I learned to listen with my eyes”.
Half Broke is an inspiring journey into many lives and a unique insight into how we humans are seen from the horse’s perspective.