In Mark Rashid’s fourth book, Life Lessons from a Ranch Horse, the teacher becomes the student when a nondescript, seven-year-old horse steps into his life. A famous horse trainer, known for listening to horses and working with them in a non-confrontational manner, Mark is faced with odd behavior from this horse, and he must reevaluate everything he understands about horses and about himself, as a trainer and as a person.

Beginning with an untimely balk from Buck, who never falters, Mark tried to find out why it happened. Drawing on experiences as far reaching as the Navajo way and Japanese martial arts, Mark begins to piece together the workings of the mind of his horse. That process and the conclusions he reaches are the heart of this very personal story.

What he finds challenges him to become a better horse trainer, but it also challenges him to become a better person. His argument that Buck, an everyday horse, has the ability to plan ahead and make choices in a consistent manner will challenge the reader to rethink his or her relationships with animals and way of dealing with life.

In separate chapters, Mark describes the six life lessons he learned while working with Buck. Later in the book, he puts these lessons into practice, with topics such as blending, balance, and communication. Throughout the book, a philosophy of dealing with horses and of living life itself emerges.

Mark’s inimitable storytelling skills illuminat e what Buck has to teach. Heart warming but gritty, Life Lessons From a Ranch Horse is not a conventional horse book. But, then again, Buck is not a conventional horse, nor is his owner a conventional horse trainer.