NPR logo BPP Book Club: Jaw-Dropping Horse Video

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BPP Book Club: Jaw-Dropping Horse Video

One of the famously great things about reading is that it opens up worlds you might never otherwise see. In the case of this month's BPP Book Club selection, Aryn Kyle's The God of Animals, it's the world of horse shows. Western horse shows, to be specific.

In one crucial scene, the main character participates in a reining competition — in which a rider puts a horse through a series of maneuvers including a sliding stop. The key is to be in total communication with the horse.

The scene was so gripping that I wanted to see what reining looks like in real life. Almost immediately I found this remarkable example of a rider named Stacy Westfall, who does something called freestyle reining — no saddle, no bridle, no reins. The video went viral on YouTube a couple of months ago, earning Westfall an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show. It takes a minute or so to really get going, but if you've ever been on the back of a horse — and maybe if you haven't — you'll be amazed that what she does is even possible.

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