I can think of at least two particular readers who ought to pick up Lynn Reardon’s account of following, even making, her dream. She risked leaving a secure job in order to shape a calling around “saving racehorses,” as subtitled on her book, Beyond the Homestretch. Most of us, at some point in our search for meaning, catch the rainbow glint and might be entranced by it enough to lose sight of the hailstones, the messy cleanup, and the sticky humidity. While Reardon’s episodic structure weaves a number of poignant moments that punctuate the pursuit of passion, she paints in heavily the rather-be-anywhere-else necessities like spending her 44th birthday covered in horse mucus due to a rattlesnake bite on the horse’s nose that required her to solo the emergency work in keeping an airway open. The pages also carry the realistic rhythm of pressures to keep finances out of the red, the sacrifices made, and the reassuring bits of humanity that contribute to the good work of hosting about 150 horses that came under her wing in the first half-dozen years of her non-profit rescue ranch. Reardon’s memoir is more than worth reading for anyone who has or has ever had dreamy eyes about saving someone else. The journey is richly textured and better treasured by telling and sharing.
The other audience, also familiar but perhaps a bit more subtle, though certainly connected, shapes more in the personal transformation than in the work itself. Reardon’s early self-portrait, prior to establishing LOPE (LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers) calls herself: “a horse geek, a real goober around the barn . . . gaffes and painfully anxious riding style . . . my poor skills, my fears, and my persistent sense of being an impostor” (all on p. xiii). While this portrayal suggests a bit of self-deprecation, it also brings the heroic work closer to hand, encouraging one to wonder if such a huge leap of faith might be within reach. This recurrent touch of humility also scaffolds the way toward a wonderfully satisfying conclusion.
The anecdotal texture of the book reveals again and again the extraordinarily special act of discerning true capacity. A horse’s huge heart makes her vulnerable to humans’ tendency to impose our own intentions on others. Even a mostly well-intentioned buyer looks for a jumper or a beginner’s lesson horse or whatever. Teachers, parents, and partners do it, too. Only a soul-centered lover looks deeply enough, cares enough, and gives so that authentic nature, often shy or even fiercely guarded, ventures out and stretches into its own beauty and power. Lynn Reardon tells of this.
The treasure at the end of the rainbow waits just inside the heart’s door, but it often takes a thousand miles of walking and someone else’s eyes to reach the key.