HN Reads, The Podcast

Conversations with the authors of horse books, some you have heard of, some you’ll wish you had heard of sooner.

Join host Gretchen Lida as she interviews trainers, novelists, Olympic riders, memoirists, and more about their work in the saddle and on the page.


Episode 12: Never Burn Your Moving Boxes

For our final guest of the 2023 Season of HN Reads is Jolyn Young. She is an author, journalist, mom, wife, and cowhand. Her debut memoir, Never Burn Your Moving Boxes: A True Tale of a Real-Life Cowboy Wife, tells about the joys and hardships of life in some of the most remote cow camps in the American West.

Episode 11: Shoeing the Modern Horse

Renowned farrier Steven Kraus and author Katie Navarra teamed up to create the must-have guide Shoeing the Modern Horse: The Horse Owners Guide to Farriery and Hoof Care. In this expansive conversation with both authors, HN Reads delves into everything from the history of horseshoes to how to be a good client for your farrier.

Episode 10: The Last Ride of the Pony Express

The Pony Express was a 10-day gallop that carried the mail from Missouri to San Francisco. Due to its prohibitive expense, it lasted less than two years, but even now, more than a century and a half later, it is still a household name. In 2019, author and horseman Will Grant set out to do the trek himself, albeit it at a much slower pace. He wrote about that journey in his book The Last Ride of the Pony Express: My 2,000-mile horseback journey into the Old West. Listen in!

Episode 9: Finding Your Superhorse

Horse trainer Lynn Palm’s accolades include 34 AQHA World and Reserve World Championships, seven Western Dressage Association of America World Championships, and four “Superhorse” Championships, the last a title that refers to a horse that can do anything. So how did she make these amazing all-around horses, and how can those of us at home make our own? Find out in this episode of HN Reads and Lynn’s new book Finding Your Superhorse: 8 Keys to Developing the Horse That’s Just Right for You.

Episode 8: The Book of Queens

The Book of Queens: The True Story of the Middle Eastern Horsewomen Who Fought the War on Terror is a tale of powerful women and their horses that crosses continents and generations. Author and President of the University of La Verne Pardis Mahdavi weaves together the stories of an all-female army of freedom fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan and the ancient breed of horse known as the Caspian. Pardis stumbled across the horse and the mighty women who rode them by accident, only to discover that her grandmother also had deep ties to both.

Episode 7: Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of Americas Legendary Racehorse

Kim Wickens spent 10 years writing Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America’s Legendary Racehorse. Her research on this important Thoroughbred sent her to Kentucky so many times that she moved to the state permanently. On this episode of HN Reads, Kim shares the story of Lexington, the famed racehorse, and his life before, during and after the American Civil War, as well as her own story of researching him.

Episode 6: Girls and Their Horses

Deemed the “thriller of the summer,” by the Today Show, Eliza Jane Braizer’s new novel, Girls and Their Horses, has all of the juicy barn drama you could ask for without even having to put your boots on. The book tells the stories of two mother and daughter pairs, a rather problematic trainer, and a heartthrob Grand Prix rider, all of which get tangled in lies, secrets, money, murder and, of course, horses. 

In this episode, Eliza talks about how good horsemanship was core to her writing process. How the characters treated the horses was something she wouldn’t put into question; how they treated each other, on the other hand, was entirely fair game. Listen in!

Episode 5: The Ponies at the Edge of the World

Scottish author and anthropologist Catherine Munro lives in the Shetland archipelago. Her memoir The Ponies at the End of the World: A Story of Hope and Belonging in Shetland tells her own story and that of the world-famous Shetland Pony. In this episode, Catherine tells HN Reads about the ponies, the islands, and her next big project involving horses.

Episode 4: Never Trust A Sneaky Pony: And Other Things They Didn’t Teach Me in Vet School 

Equine Veterinarian Dr. Madison Seamans goofs off with Gretchen on this episode of HN Reads. The two talk about Dr. Seamans’s more than 35 years in practice, the perils and joys of equine medicine, why it’s important not to rely on “Dr. Google,” and his perfectly titled memoir Never Trust a Sneaky Pony.

Episode 3: Once Upon a Horse #1: The Flying Horse

Our first repeat guest! In 2021 Sarah Maslin Nir came on HN Reads to talk about her first book, Horse Crazy: A Women and a World in Love with an Animal. Now she’s back to introduce her brand new children’s series called Once Upon a Horse: #1 The Flying Horse. Sarah is a Pulitzer Prize nominated reporter for the New York Times and amateur rider. She also runs a small business importing and selling horses.

Episode 2: The Yard: How A Horse Healed My Heart

Author Grace Olson joins host Gretchen Lida from across the pond in this episode of HN Reads. Her new memoir, The Yard: How A Horse Healed My Heart, chronicles how returning to horses can return us to ourselves. After a years-long battle with postpartum depression, Grace takes up riding again at the suggestion of a massage client/show jumper named Alexa. Set in Yorkshire, this book is a romp-full of amazing horses and people, including Valerie, an eccentric, larger-than-life boarding barn owner. This conversation spans far beyond the book, however, delving into Grace’s work in equine therapy, where her terminally ill patients often have breakthroughs in the presence of horses.

Episode 1: The Working Equitation Manual

Have you ever marvelled at those YouTube videos of riders cantering around an obstacle course? Horse and rider working together to open gates, cross bridges, spear rings, and traverse hazards, all while keeping a dressage frame. This is working equitation. If you’ve ever thought about picking up a garrocha, this is the episode for you. Ali Kermeen is a master instructor in both English and Western, but her passion is working equitation. She wrote the book on it, The Working Equitation Manual. Listen in to learn about one of the fastest growing sports in equestrian.


Episode 11: Liberty Biscuit

The namesake of the new young adult novel, Liberty Biscuit, is a bedraggled but charming donkey that 14-year-old Katherine Pearl Baker—aka “Kip”—stubbles across in the woods. From that first meeting, the story spins into a tale of family secrets and the perils of equine rescue. The author, Melanie Sue Bowles, has a deep understanding of animal rescue and operates Proud Spirit Horse Rescue, which has been in operation for over 30 years.

Episode 10: On The Hoof Pacific to Atlantic: A 3,800-Mile Adventure

Imagine travelling back to a time when you had to rely on a horse to get from place to place… While this may not be possible in the modern world, Jesse McNeil came close. A serial adventurer, Jesse thought he would try his hand at one with an equine companion and rode from Oregon to New Hampshire with Pepper, a green-broke Tennessee Walker. His memoir, On The Hoof Pacific to Atlantic: A 3,800-Mile Adventure, tells the tale of his cross-country adventure.

Episode 9: Riders of a Certain Age

Many people return to horses in middle age or after they retire. But, when so much time has passed, it can be challenging to figure out where to start or what to consider now that they are older. This week’s guest, Fran Severn, author of Riders of a Certain Age: A Guide to Loving Horses Midlife and Beyond, answers these questions and more with a refreshing clarity you don’t want to miss.

Episode 8: The Last Wild Horses

“What if every single human being chose one threatened animal or insect or bird or fish and decided to save it? I think the world would look completely different if we did that,” says Maja Lunde. The characters in her 2022 novel, The Last Wild Horses, do just that for the Takhi or Mongolian wild horses. In this episode of HN Reads, the Podcast, host Gretchen Lida talks love and brutal truths with the author.

Episode 7: Horse Country

Horse Country by Yamile Saied Mendez is a middle grade book series that chronicles the adventures of Carolina Aguasvivas and Chelsie Sánchez, two 12 year old girls growing up on Paradise Ranch in Idaho. While the two girls come from very different backgrounds, they are brought together by their shared passion for horses and find many friends (both equine and human) along the way. In this episode of HN Reads, host Gretchen Lida and Yamile discuss writing for young readers, life in the west and, of course, the magic of horses and young people.

Episode 6: A Man Walks into a Barn

Chad Oldfather is the author of A Man Walks Into a Barn: Navigating Fatherhood in the Flawed and Fascinating World of Horses. In this interview with HN Reads host Gretchen Lida, he discuss his experiences as a horse show dad and how it influenced his parenting. They also talk about ambition, horse show judging and more!

Episode 5: The Last Diving Horse in America

From the 1930s through the 1970s, the Atlantic City Steel Pier was home to a group of horses trained to leap from a platform 40 feet high into a tank of water 10 feet deep. As a child, author Cynthia Branigan witnessed the spectacle. Decades later, when the last of these diving horses went on the auction block, she got a call to help save them. In her memoir, The Last Diving Horse in America: Rescuing Gamal and Other Animals Lessons in Living and Loving, Cynthia tells the story of how one horse changed her life forever. Press play to hear Gretchen and Cynthia discuss diving horses, the animal rights movement, and Cynthia’s decades-long love for Greyhounds. You can also find more information about Cynthia at on the Make Peace with Animals website.

Episode 4: A Storm of Horses

Ever since she saw it take up an entire wall in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the painting titled “The Horse Fair” has grabbed hold of author and illustrator Ruth Sanderson and still hasn’t let go almost 50 years later. Its hyper-realism, energy, and color were not only ahead of its time, but the massive draft horses parading across the canvas continue to capture audiences today. The Horse Fair’s creator, Rosa Rosa Bonheur, would turn 200 in 2022, so to celebrate, Sanderson has created a fantastic children’s book with a short biography of her life called A Storm of Horses. Tune in to hear Ruth and Gretchen talk about Rosa Bonheur, the joy of making art out of her passion for horses, tips on how to draw equines better, and even the time she got to meet the creator of the Black Stallion, Walter Farley.

Episode 3: The Year of the Horses

When Courtney Maum developed severe depression in her late 30s, she did the usual things many do to treat it, such as therapy and medication. But, as another way to reclaim herself, she also returned to horses after more than two decades away—and then took up the harrowing, high speed sport of polo. She chronicled that journey in her new memoir, The Year of the Horses. In this wide-ranging discussion, host Gretchen Lida and Courtney cover everything from returning to riding as an adult, the life of an artist who also loves horses, and the cultural implications of being a horse girl. Listen in!

Episode 2: The Idea of Order

Since 2011, Dressage Rider, cartoonist, and proud Floridian, Morgane Schmidt has been dazzling the equestrian internet with her webcomic The Idea of Order. These hilarious, beautifully drawn comics capture every aspect of a life with horses, from the drama of purchasing and showing to the ridiculousness of every day care. On this episode of HN Reads, Morgane and Gretchen Lida discuss art, dressage, and the process of publishing the first print collection—and Morgane’s her utter hatred of winter. Her new collection of comics Life with Horses is Never Orderly out now.

Episode 1: From the Horse’s Point of View

Trainer Andrea Kutsch joins host Gretchen Lida to geek out about her book From the Horse’s Point of View: Horse Training’s New Frontier. After many years as a natural horsemanship trainer, Andrea wanted to find a way to prevent many of the issues she was seeing in the troubled horses that showed up for her to train. She and her team partnered with The Lewitz Stud in Germany to scientifically examine stress responses and other cues in horses to understand better how they learned, ultimately creating Evidence-Based Equine Communication.